Saturday, December 27, 2008

Danish Puff on the 3rd Day of Christmas

Willow noticed that our Christmas celebration had a decidedly Danish theme to it, at least food-wise. It's one of those traditions that my immediate and extended family enjoy a lot. Since all of my ancestry is Danish, my family would often prepare Danish food for celebratory meals when I was growing up; however,
I've been more conscious of preparing Danish food at Christmas time since writing my master's thesis on food in ethnic literature. Immigrants would have to give up so much culture-wise when they came to the U.S. Often it would only take a generation for kids to lose their parents' native language and knowledge of the old country traditions, except for the food traditions. I'm a second generation Californian and a fourth generation American, and I still eat herring for Christmas Eve. (Although I have to admit that it tasted pretty gross this year) Anyway, my point is that food traditions help define us and keep us in contact with our origins. Fortunately, most Danish food is really good, so my kids have something to enjoy handing down to their kids too, something to help them create a "hyggellig" (Danish for cozy..kind of) environment for their own kids.

One of my favorite decadent Danish treats is kringle. It's basically layers of butter and pastry and sugar..layers and layers. One Christmas when my sister and her family lived in California she and her husband brought some from a Danish bakery in Los Angeles, but usually I've either made it myself, which takes forever; or we've bought it in Solvang, which is less than two hours from us, or we've ordered it from O &H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. I didn't think to order any in time this year and didn't feel like baking it either, so I kind of cheated and baked "Danish puff." I don't know why I say it's cheating exactly. I have just always thought that it was something that Danish descendants made up to seem like kringle without all of the work. I've had a recipe from my great aunt for years, but I've never used it, even though I have tasty memories of her fixing it for me and my friends when I was in college far from home and would walk down the hill to her house on Saturday afternoons.

I've seen the error of my ways now though. I made Danish puff this week, and it is wonderful. I even found it in a Danish cookbook I have, and they called it "vandbakkelse," which roughly translates as water pastry. Here's the recipe.

Danish Puff

1 cup butter, divided
2 cups flour, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cold water

1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. almond flavoring
3 eggs

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Cut 1/2 cup of the butter int 1 cup flour mixed with the salt to a consistency of course meal. Add cold water and blend well. Divide dough in half and press each half onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Four boiling water into saucepan and add remaining half cup of butter. When butter melts, remove from heat and add flavoring. Stir in 1 cup flour all at once. Beat until smooth and let cool. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each. Divide in half and spread this mixture over the pastry crusts on the cookie sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 mines longer. Watch carefully.

Mix frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Frost while hot and add some sliced almonds. Slice and serve warm.


Willow said...

I do understand about ethnic foods connecting people to their past. The Professor's heritage is Swedish (meatballs and limpa), mine is English and German (those sugar cookies and kuchen) AND we lived for many years in Indonesia and our kids love their adopted country/heritage, so we regularly eat Indonesian food.

Solvang is one of my favorite fun places--pastry, embroidery, and yarn!

Anonymous said...

OMG....that snowman is so cute...I need one!!! And to bring up was so cute/fun when we went. I wish you could taste my new Xmas tradition...Cranberry, toasted almond/coconut white chocolate bark....the best...

Miss you!

JayJay said...

I am 5th generation and we have kept a lot of our German foods. I really need to work at making them more often so my daughter will experience them (we would have dampfnudel or potato dumplings with sauerkraut, yum). What a cool thesis topic.

My mom used to make Danish Puff pastry! We aren't the least bit Danish. She just found a recipe and loved it. Thanks for sharing!