Luscious Warm Danish and a Tearful Farewell

A night's baking, as Michael likes to say.

I’m crying as I write this, late at night, with a pan full of warm Danish next to me.

Tonight was the last night of the 8-week unit on batters & doughs in our pastry techniques class at L’Academie de Cuisine. I know I should be excited about the next 12 weeks of mousses, Bavarians, cakes, chocolate, ice cream, and small plated desserts. And I am. But I love dough. To paraphrase Woody Allen, I don’t just love it. I luffff it. I lurv it. I love it so much that it actually worries me a little bit. So I’m sad to leave it behind.The pâte à choux that became adorable little cream-puff swans, éclairs and Paris-Brest! The pâte sucrée that made us melt as it encircled warm chocolate and lemon fillings! The pâte brisée that made our quiche a flaky wonder! The puff pastry, croissant and Danish dough that produced trays and trays of delicious treats. [audible sigh] How wonderful it all was!

I know, however, that I will keep making many of the things Chef Claude taught us (most of which my pastry partner Michael Edwards and I have photographed for you in this blog). I’ll do my best to chronicle my awkward attempts at those projects–the ones Chef makes look sooooo easy when he shows us in class.

But for now, before I tumble into bed, let me show you the Danish we made tonight (from the dough we made last week). Classic square shape with cream cheese and brandy-soaked cherry filling:

Diamond shape with almond paste and apricot filling:

And the cool pinwheel shape with pastry cream and walnut filling:

I know that you are astute enough to have noticed the two lovely croissants in the photo at the very top of the blog post. And you are saying to yourself, dang, she is about to sign off without telling us about those croissants. What could she be thinking? What the hell happened? Simmer down, now. Here’s the deal: We did bake off a few more croissants, because we had the leftover dough, and because Chef thought it would be good practice for us (which it was). Okay? Can you relax now?

I promise that I will blog tomorrow (or really soon) about how you shape, fill and bake each of the Danish in the photos here. And I will also let you know what Chef theorized went wrong when I had my not-so-stellar croissant-baking adventure at home yesterday. But for now, good night and sweet pastry dreams.