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A Danish pastry or Danish, is a sweet bread product made with raised dough. Originating in Austria at an unknown date, the Danish pastry grew to fame in Denmark and has become a popular breakfast or snack treat throughout the world. Danishes come in many varieties and are often filled with fruit, jam, or cream.
Danishes are made from a pastry dough rich in butter, mixed with eggs, flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Spices may be added to the basic dough for additional flavoring, including cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. The dough is rolled out into thin layers and often coated with more butter, before being shaped into individual pastries. Often, Danish dough will be chilled before baking, or rolled out and buttered repeatedly to increase the flakiness and texture of the dough.
Fillings for Danish pastries are as variable as can be. Traditionally, fruit preserves and custard are commonly found in Denmark, although chocolate filled Danishes are also popular. In other places, Danish are filled with sweet cheese, whole pieces of fruit, or nuts and spice mixtures. A Danish pastry can really be filled with whatever you enjoy the most, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
When baked, the dry yeast used in the dough causes the Danish pastry to rise, creating a flaky and rich bread that will crumble easily. Much like their cousins, the croissant, Danish pastries are a favorite breakfast food in many places. The Danish is quite versatile, however, and may also be enjoyed as a late morning or afternoon snack, perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
In 2006, the Danish pastry found itself at the center of a startling international controversy, following the publication of some political cartoons by a Danish cartoonist. The comics depicted the prophet Mohammad, seen as a religious affront to some Islamic practitioners. In response, the confectioner’s union of Iran decided to symbolically boycott products from Denmark by renaming Danish pastries “Roses of the Prophet Mohammad.” This was met with mixed reactions in many quarters.
Regardless of their international brush with politics, Danish pastries are enjoyed all over the world. Their flaky and buttery dough seems irresistible to those in search of an early morning sweet treat, and the variety of flavors available can certainly provide a Danish for most tastes. Danish pastries are readily available at coffee shops, bakeries and grocery stores, and usually are priced between $1-$4 US Dollars per pastry.