Blame it on the 'buttah'

Don't ever bake Danish pastries in a springform pan! Let me explain. Fridays have become my baking day. It started when our sons were involved in Friday night football. They would come home from games tired and hungry, and looking forward to something good to eat.

Sometimes I would make a pie or a cake. Brownies were a favorite, as were chocolate chip cookies.

When our sons left for college and marriage, I still had one person at home who liked goodies: my husband. So now I bake for him – and also in case we have drop-in guests over the weekend.

I like to bake breads as well as desserts. My husband thinks someone should make a perfume with the smell of yeast dough. It would be an instant bestseller, he says.

This week I baked Danish pastry. If you've ever made it, you know what a challenge it can be. Genuine Danish pastries take all day to make – and sometimes overnight.

In one recipe I have, it says, "The longer you knead, the lighter will be the bread. Knead 10 minutes, let the dough rest, and knead again for 10 minutes." I like the part about letting the dough rest. The baker may need to rest, too.

Danish pastries contain plenty of "buttah," as the Two Fat Ladies of Food Channel fame have said. The "buttah" is what makes the pastries delectable.

Knowing that – and knowing that I didn't have all day to make them – I decided to take a shortcut. I used a boxed mix for yeast rolls, which cuts down on the kneading time.

My intent was to make something called Seven Sisters, which are six rolls in a circle with another one in the middle. But my pan was still too small to hold them.

The only large pan I had was a springform. This was where I made my mistake. A springform pan has a removable bottom – or removable sides – whichever way you look at it. The point is, where the bottom and the sides meet, there's enough space for melted "buttah" to ooze out of the buns and seep through the bottom seam.

And so it did. It dripped through onto the bottom of the oven. Smoke billowed out the oven door, which set off smoke alarms all over the house.

My husband came running and sniffing. "What is that heavenly smell?" he asked. Not, "Why is the house on fire?"

"Shortcut Danish pastry," I answered, "and I'm not sure it worked. The 'buttah' has bubbled out and over the sides."

He peered in the oven. Behind the clouds of smoke were perfect rolls. "I think they're ready to come out," he said licking his lips. "How long do we have to wait to taste them?"

Butter still dripped from the bottom of the pan as I took it from the oven. But the pastries were beautiful. They were such a success that my husband had to call our son.

Son said, "I wish you could send me some." So out came the digital camera, and we e-mailed him a picture. When he got it, he said, "They look yummy. I can even taste them."

Can you?

Shortcut Danish Pastries

1 box hot roll mix
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
1 cup hot water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), divided

3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom, nutmeg, or cinnamon (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine hot roll mix, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and dry yeast in a large bowl and mix well. Blend in hot water. Add beaten egg and mix.

Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. With floured hands, knead dough for 5 minutes until smooth. Cover dough with inverted bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.

Roll to a 15-by-10-inch rectangle and thinly slice half of the stick of cold butter into the middle of the rectangle.

Fold one side of the dough to the middle and spread with thin slices of the other half of the stick of cold butter. Then fold other side over, making an envelope. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling: Cream together 3 tablespoons of softened butter with 3 tablespoons sugar. Add cardamom, nutmeg, or cinnamon, if desired. (You may also add raisins and sliced almonds.)

Roll refrigerated dough out into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle and spread with filling. Roll up tightly from the 9-inch side, pressing edges to seal. Cut into 7 buns and place in an 8- or 10-inch round cake pan, or in a 13-by-9-inch rectangular baking dish lined with parchment paper (to catch the butter). (To make individual buns, see note at end.)

Cover with plastic wrap and then a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F., for 20 to 30 minutes, until rolls have risen and are golden.

While rolls are baking, stir together glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

When rolls are done, invert pan over a plate and dribble glaze over warm buns.

Yield: 7 rolls

Note: To make individual Danish, sprinkle dough with cinnamon-sugar filling (to which you may add 2 to 3 tablespoons of raisins) and roll up from the long side to the center. Then roll from the other side so the two meet in the center. Brush edges with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water). Cut into 7 pieces and place on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Bake as above.

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