Whenever I am travelling somewhere by train and there is a Paul bakery I always buy one of their Escargot pastries. I love their buttery raisin filled flaky dough - especially that first bite. When I saw that this month's Teatime Treats challenge, hosted this month by the inspiring Karen at Lavender and Lovage, could include any sweet pastries and breads the Escargots immediately came to mind. The fact that I'm currently having a love in with all things Danish (The Killing, Borgen, Sarah Lund's jumper collection....) also persuaded me to give them a go. My parents bought me Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef for Christmas which has a whole section on Danish pastries. While I am most definitely no where near the standard of the book's title, I have picked up some good ideas already from this huge tome, one being the honey butter I've used in the filling.
I found the recipe for the actual pastry online but combined it with this gorgeous honey butter. I also took Bo's tip of soaking the raisins in water beforehand to make them plumper. I'm glad I've made these but boy they took some work. The kneading, the rolling, the chilling, the rerolling, the rechilling ... And did I mention THE BUTTER!! There are some things in life it's best not to know and the amount of butter in these is as obscene as a Bunga Bunga party's guest list. But like Berlusconi himself probably thought, life's short so you have to have a few indulgences. Would I make them again? I'm glad I've made them once but unlikely to again - see life's too short point, especially when Paul can do all the hard work.
For the pastry:
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
50 g fresh yeast
250 ml milk
1 egg, beaten
300g butter, sliced (I used 250g as I just couldn't bring myself to use more than one packet!)
a few handfuls of raisins soaked in water
For the honey butter:
170g unsalted butter
55g light brown sugar
120ml half and half (I forgot to buy cream so I missed out this ingredient) and added a splash of milk instead.
To make the pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 230c/gas mark 8. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and cardamom. Mix the yeast with a little of the milk until it is creamy and stir into the flour with the remaining milk and the egg. Mix to a dough and knead until smooth and shiny.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 60cm x 30cmx 1 cm thick. Place the sliced butter over the centre strip of the dough, leaving a gap around the edges. Fold over one side of the dough to cover the butter, then fold over the other side. Chill the dough for 15 minutes. Roll out to the same size again, repeat the folding and chill for another 15 mins. Repeat the process once more. Finally put the dough in a floured plastic bag and leave to rest for 15 minutes before using.
3. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 40 x 15 cm. Spread with the honey butter filling (to make the honey butter just melt all ingredients together in a small pan until they come to the boil, then remove from heat) and sprinkle over the raisins. Press raisins in with a rolling pin. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter.
4. Roll up from the short end to make a swiss roll shape. Cut into 14 slices and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake for about 10—15 minutes until golden.
5. Brush the cooked pastries with more honey butter.