A Danish pastry, or simply just Danish, is a multilayered, laminated sweet pastry in the viennoiserie tradition.
A yeast dough is rolled out thinly, covered with thin slices of butter between the layers of dough, and then the dough is folded and rolled several times, creating 27 layers.
It is baked in many shapes and frequently filled or topped with pastry cream, preserves, jam, fruits, dried fruits, marzipan, nuts, cheese, chocolate, vanilla, custard, pearl sugar, powdered sugar frosting or glacé icing.
Around the year 1850, bakers in Denmark went on strike because they wanted to be paid for their work in cash rather than bed and board. Bakery owners had no choice but to hire foreign workers, many of them Austrians who had a certain talent for making buttery, flaky pastries. When the strike was over, the Danish people continued the Austrians’ method of baking, which explains why the word for Danish pastry, “wienerbrod,” actually means Vienna bread.
Danish pastry was brought to the United States by Danish immigrants. Lauritz C. Klitteng of Læsø popularized “Danish pastry” in the US around 1915–1920. According to Klitteng, he made Danish pastry for the wedding of President Woodrow Wilson in December 1915. Klitteng toured the world to promote his product and was featured in such 1920s periodicals as the National Baker, the Bakers’ Helper, and the Bakers’ Weekly. Klitteng briefly had his own Danish Culinary Studio at 146 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Today, Danish pastries are popular around the world.
The different kinds of Danish pastry’s include:
• Kamme — Meaning “Danish pastry comb,” kamme is the almond-flavored pastry known as bear claws in America.
• Frosnapper — A twisted pastry with poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
• Tebirkes — A hollow pastry, slightly resembling a croissant, with marzipan (almond paste) inside and topped with poppy seeds.
• Spandauer — a round, flaky pastry with custard or raspberry jam in the center.
• Snegle — Also called “snails,” snegle is a spiral pastry similar to a cinnamon roll.
• Kringle — A large, oval or pretzel-shaped pastry filled with nuts or fruit and topped with a sugar glaze.
• Kanel-snegl — A cinnamon, kringle-like pastry made in smaller, round pieces.