Behind the scenes of the bakery: How our Danish are made

Danish, not really, but loved by the Danes nonetheless!

The more we write about our pastry at La Patisserie Francaise in Arvada, the deeper the mystery becomes. 

Last week, we told you about the origins of puff pastry, which we use in several of our tasty treats. Legend has it that a French painter, Claude Gelée — who, by the way, also went by Claudius Gelee and Claude Lorrain — invented the dough in the 17th Century to make a buttery bread for his sick father. 
We salute Claude or Claudius, because without his possibly apocryphal contribution to French cuisine — he started off as a baker’s apprentice, according to lore and later became a painter of some renown — we wouldn’t be able to make all those awesome turnovers, straws, strudels palmier and Napoleon. You rock, Claude. Maybe. 

This blog is ostensibly about another delicacy we offer at La Patisserie. You know them. You love them. We are talking of course about the Danish. 
It’s a flaky, buttery circle of awesomeness perfect for Sunday breakfast or really any other time of day.
Our hats off to the good folks of Denmark for blessing us all with this wonderful pastry. 
Wait a minute? According to the Associated Press, a French baker’s apprentice invented the Danish on accident because he forgot to put butter in the flour and added lumps to the dough and folded it in. To everyone’s surprise, the dough was light and buttery, more so than anyone in France had ever seen. 

So that means Danish are less Danish than our croissant maker, who is only an eighth Danish on his mother’s side.
And who was this inept baker’s apprentice who stumbled upon an ingenious way to make pastry dough? Claudius Gelle again? We are beginning to doubt the veracity of this story. 
But no bother, Danish, whether or not they were invented by Claude or Claudius or whoever, are a sure fire way to brighten your day. 
The Danes eat a lot of them —so much that they are associated with the country — and fill them with jam, fruit, nuts or cream. One of their favorite varieties uses sugar and marzipan topped with slivered almonds, and another uses vanilla custard in the middle. A spiral, rum-soaked version is called a snail and the Danes stuff the pastry with raisins on holidays, according to the Associated Press. 
The Danes call them Viennese, according to various sources. The actual Danish word is wienerbrød. The Viennese call them Dänischer Plunder.  

At La Patisserie, our Danish come are topped off with sweet fondant and various fruit fillings, including blueberry, cherry, raspberry, apple and lemon. We also make them with cream cheese. Like our puff pastry and croissants, we measure out the perfect, high altitude friendly mixtures of flour, margarine butter and yeast and a few other ingredients. We let it chill before we start the lamination process, which imparts that flaky, butter goodness in the finished product. 
Once the dough gets five passes through our West German sheeting machine, we roll it out, apply a thin layer of our house made custard, roll them up, weigh them out and, eventually, add our toppings and bake them to perfection. 

Come on by. It’s impossible to have a bad day after you’ve had a cherry Danish and a cup of cafe Americano. We know. We’ve tried. 

Behind the scenes of the bakery: How our croissants are made

John Bear, La Patisserie Francaise – Dough chef

One bite of a La Patisserie Francaise croissant will instantly transport a person to an outdoor table at a Parisian cafe.

But as recently as the 19th Century, according to the Smithsonian Institute, the French viewed what is arguably one of the most quintessentially French pieces of pastry as a foreign novelty. The crescent-shaped breakfast staple we all know and love is inspired by the kipfel, first made in 1683 to celebrate the the Austrian victory over the Ottomans at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. For a long time, they were only available in Viennese bakeries in Paris. 

Even if they aren’t technically French, croissants are awesome, and bakers at La Patisserie put their heart and soul into the craft. Only a dozen or so people in Colorado know how to make croissants, so we know what we do is special. 

We make our dough in 63-pound batches specially formulated to yield the best results in the higher altitudes of the Front Range. Our ingredients are simple — flour, milk, butter, salt and yeast measured out perfectly and mixed together with varying but precise amounts of water. We watch the amount of water that goes into a batch of dough down to the tablespoon. That’s important, because flour behaves differently based on how much it rained where it was grown and other variables. 

Once the dough is mixed on two speeds for about 15 minutes total, we cut it into nine seven-pound portions called Paton in French. The Paton are covered in plastic and allowed to proof for about two hours. While that happens, we take some already made dough and roll it out to make butter, chocolate, almond, spinach and feta and ham and Swiss croissants. 

When the dough is nearly done proofing, we take 18 pounds of slightly softened butter and pound it flat with a large wooden rolling pin. The bakery fills with the “Boom, Boom, Boom” of the rolling pin the baker swings it up and down onto the butter. If anyone is wondering, yes, this is a highly effective stress relieving technique. 

The flattened butter is combined into two-pound pieces and folded in the Paton.  The mixture is then folded together and run through an industrial size rolling machine in a process called laminating. This will give the final product it’s buttery, fluffy, flaky and slightly crumbly texture. Each Paton gets two passes through the rolling machine and, later on, one more before it is rolled out and cut into croissants. 

The cut out and rolled up croissants are given another chance to proof before being given a coating of egg wash and baked in our large oven until they come out with that perfect, golden brown tint. We make them fresh every day we are open. That’s when they are the best. 

Then it’s up to you. A butter croissant can be eaten plain or topped with bacon and eggs or ham and cheese, pretty much any sandwich topping one could desire. 

We make our own cream that goes in our almond croissants. Our chocolate croissants are every bit as good for breakfast as they are for a late night snack. It’s not unusual for a construction worker to stop by for a hearty ham and swiss. As for our spinach and feta croissant? Who says eating your greens can’t be delicious? 

We put a lot of work into our croissants at La Patisserie. We think it shows. Come by and try one for yourself.

Behind the scenes of the bakery: A series from our staff

We will be posting several articles from our staff that produce our goodies from scratch. It will range from making croissants to how we do our classic cakes, and maybe even our macarons.. We think the process is absolutely facinating, but not many of our customers get to see the behind the scenes work our staff puts in to get our products out. One of our staff is a journalist, and will be putting out the first article on croissants. While we can’t have you all into the kitchen, talking out the process is the next best thing. Enjoy!