This gluten free Danish pastry is the real deal – perfectly flaky and buttery, with a wonderful lamination, and generously filled with vanilla pastry cream and plump, juicy sultanas. It has the characteristic swirl shape of a proper pain aux raisins with gorgeous caramelised edges. While it does require a few steps to make, it’s not overly complicated – and the end result is just incredibly delicious. You couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free!
75g(⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
30g(¼ cup) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
30g(2 tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
For gluten free Danish pastry:
10g(2 tbsp) whole/rough psyllium husk (If using psyllium husk powder, use only 8g.)
120g(½ cup) cold water(See Note 1.)
155g(¾ cup + 3 tbsp) potato starch(You can also use an equal weight of arrowroot starch, cornstarch (US) or cornflour (UK), or tapioca starch.)
130g(¾ cup + 1 tbsp) brown rice flour (finely milled), plus extra for flouring the surface(You can also use an equal weight of millet flour.)
25g(3 tbsp) sorghum flour(You can also use an equal weight of buckwheat, white teff or gluten free oat flour.)
50g(¼ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
5g(1 ¾ tsp) xanthan gum
5g(1 tsp) salt
8g(2 ½ tsp) instant yeast(If using active dried yeast, use 10g. Also see Note 2.)
100g(⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) whole milk, cold(See Note 1.)
2UK medium/US largeegg yolks, cold(See Note 1.)
200g(1 ¾ sticks) cold unsalted butter(For the butter block.)
You will also need:
100g(⅔ cup) sultanas or raisins
1UK medium/US largeegg, whisked(For glazing the pastries.)
For vanilla pastry cream:
In a saucepan, cook the milk and vanilla bean paste over medium-high heat until boiling.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and the mixture forms a ribbon when you lift the whisk. Add the cornstarch and whisk well until combined.Tip: Whisking the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth is called “blanching”. The sugar essentially protects the egg proteins, preventing lump formation and "curdling" during cooking.
Pour the hot milk in a slow stream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the mixture into the saucepan and cook over high heat with constant whisking until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.Tip: This process is called “tempering” and prevents the egg yolks from scrambling – as they would if you added the egg yolk mixture all at once into the hot milk. By tempering, you gradually increase the temperature of the egg yolks while simultaneously diluting them, ensuring a silky-smooth pastry cream.
Remove from heat and add in the butter. Whisk well until the butter has melted and is completely incorporated.
Allow to cool completely, stirring or whisking occasionally to prevent skin formation on top. Set aside until needed.
For gluten free Danish pastry dough:
In a small bowl, whisk together the psyllium husk and cold water. After about 20-30 seconds, a gel will form. Set aside until needed.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer, if using), whisk together the potato starch, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and yeast.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the cold milk, egg yolks and psyllium gel into it.Tip: If using active dried yeast, see Note 2.
Using a wooden spoon, mix well until the dough starts coming together. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, making sure that you scrape down the sides of the bowl to remove any dry, un-mixed patches of flour.
Once it starts coming together, knead it by hand until you get a homogeneous dough with no dry patches of un-mixed flour. Just squeeze the dough through your fingers, going around the bowl until you’ve incorporated all the flour. The final dough will be fairly firm and should come away from the sides of the bowl. (Again, you can also use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook).
Set aside for a few minutes while you prepare the butter block. Tip: If your kitchen is very warm, you can place the dough into the fridge while you prepare the butter block.
For the butter block:
Cut the cold butter into slices and arrange it in the middle of a large piece of baking/greaseproof paper, in an approximately square shape.
Fold all four sides of the baking paper over the butter, so that you get an approximately 8 inch (20cm) baking paper square that completely encloses the butter.
Flip it over, so that the baking paper folds point downwards, and firmly hit the butter with a rolling pin. Make sure to hit it with the rolling pin all over and in all directions.Tip: The friction from being hit with the rolling pin will slightly soften the butter and make it more malleable/pliable, without melting it.
Once slightly softened, roll the rolling pin firmly over the butter block, so that you get the butter into all the edges and corners of the baking paper square. Make sure that the butter is of an even thickness all over.
You should be left with an 8 inch (20cm) butter block that’s fairly malleable/pliable (you should be able to gently bend it) without being too soft or squidgy.Tip: If your kitchen is very warm, you can chill it briefly in the fridge for about 5 minutes, but you don’t want it to firm up too much. (I didn’t need to chill it at all, and my kitchen was at a pleasant 70ºF (20ºC)).
Laminating the gluten free Danish pastry - first book fold:
Lightly flour your work surface. Tip: I like to work on a large piece of baking/greaseproof paper, as this allows me to slide the dough onto a baking sheet and into the fridge at any point, if the dough or pastry feels too warm or too soft. I recommend you do the same, especially if this is your first time making gluten free Danish pastry (and also if your kitchen is on the warmer side).
Place the dough onto the floured surface and sprinkle it with flour. Roll it out into an approximately 8x16 inch (20x40cm) rectangle, so that the shorter side is closest to you. At regular intervals, check whether the butter block fits comfortably onto the rolled-out dough. The dough should be a few millimetres wider than the butter block, but not by much.While you’re rolling, make sure that the dough isn’t stuck to the surface, by sliding your hands under it and gently lifting it up.
Once you’re happy with the size of the dough, place the butter block on one half of the dough and peel away the baking paper. Fold the other half of the dough over the butter block, end to end, enclosing it completely.
Turn the dough by 90 degrees, so that the two opposite “open ends” of the pastry point towards and away from you.
Use the rolling pin to gently “tap” the pastry all over – that is, gently press down on the pastry with the rolling pin at regular intervals along the length of the dough. This will ensure that the butter block adheres well to the dough and that it rolls out evenly together with the dough, rather than in uneven patches.
Roll out the dough into an approximately 8x22 inch (20x55cm) rectangle. This doesn’t have to be very precise, you just want to make sure that the rectangle is long enough to easily make the book fold in the next step.While you’re rolling, make sure that the dough isn’t stuck to the surface, by sliding your hands under it and gently lifting it up.
Fold the two ends of the rectangle inwards towards the middle, so that they meet in the centre. At this point, use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour. Fold this new rectangle in half (along the centre line), as if closing a thick book. You’ve just made a book fold!
Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Tip: Don’t chill it for any longer than that – if you do, the butter will firm up too much and will break when you roll out the pastry in the next step.
Laminating the gluten free Danish pastry - second book fold:
The second book fold is essentially a repeat of the first one.
On a lightly floured surface, position the pastry so that the two “open ends” point towards and away from you.
Gently press down on the pastry with the rolling pin at regular intervals along the length of the dough. Then, roll it out into an approximately 8x22 inch (20x55cm) rectangle. Make sure that the pastry doesn’t stick to the surface. .
Fold both ends of the pastry rectangle towards the middle, so that they meet in the centre. Then fold the resulting rectangle in half.
Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Assembling and proofing the gluten free pain aux raisins:
While the pastry is chilling, in a small bowl, pour boiling hot water over the sultanas or raisins until completely covered. Set aside for about 10 minutes, until the sultanas/raisins have plumped up and re-hydrated.Drain the water, making sure to squeeze out any excess water from the sultanas/raisins. Set aside until needed.
Line two large baking sheets with baking/greaseproof paper.
Roll out the chilled pastry until it’s slightly larger than 10x16 inch (25x40cm), then trim it down to a 10x16 inch (25x40cm) rectangle. It should be about ⅓ inch (8mm) thick.
Briefly whisk the cooled vanilla pastry cream until it's smooth, then dollop it on top of the rolled-out pastry. Using a small offset spatula, smooth it out into an even layer all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle evenly with the re-hydrated sultanas or raisins.
With the pastry positioned so that that the shorter side is closest to you, roll the pastry towards you. You will end up with an approximately 10 inch (25cm) long log. You can use the baking paper to help you with rolling, if needed.Tip: If the pastry feels too warm or too soft at this point, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before proceeding with the next step.
Use baker’s thread or unflavoured dental floss to slice the log into the individual pastries, each about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Fold the end of the swirl of each pastry underneath the pastry (see blog post for photos) – this prevents the end of the pastry from unfurling during baking.Tip: Much like with cinnamon rolls, using baker's thread or floss preserves the shape of the pastries and ensures that you’ll get the most beautiful swirl. (Using a knife, on the other hand, would likely squash the pastry.)
Place the individual Danish pastries onto the lined baking sheets, spacing them out so as to allow for their expansion during proofing and baking. This recipe makes 10 pastries in total, I like to bake them 5 per baking sheet. Ideally, allow at least 2 inches (5cm) between the pastries.
Cover them lightly with cling film and allow to proof in a warm spot for about 2 hours or until lightly puffed up. The pastries won't double in volume – see blog post for photos.
Baking the gluten free pain aux raisins:
While the pastries are proofing, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 430ºF (220ºC).
Once proofed, brush the pastries lightly with egg wash all over – make sure to egg wash both the tops and the sides.
Bake the first baking sheet with the Danish pastries at 430ºF (220ºC) for 5 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC) and bake them for a further 20 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Remove the first baking sheet with the pastries from the oven, and immediately increase the oven temperature to 430ºF (220ºC). Once the oven reaches that temperature, bake the second baking sheet with the pastries as per the instructions above.
Allow the pastries to cool on the baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes before transferring onto a wire cooling rack to cool until warm or completely cold, depending on how you'd like to serve them.
Optional: You can brush the pastries (while they're still warm) with some apricot jam that you've heated up on the stovetop or in the microwave.
These gluten free Danish pastries are definitely at their very best still slightly warm from the oven or on the day of baking.However, they keep well for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature, you’ll just need to reheat them briefly in the microwave (for about 20-30 seconds) to soften them up again – once re-heated, they’re just as soft and delicious as they were on the first day, but they won't be quite as crisp.
Note 1: Using cold milk, water and egg yolks in the dough allows you to skip the initial refrigeration step of the dough that's often recommended in Danish pastry and croissant recipes. For more information, refer to the "Making the gluten free dough" section of the blog post.Note 2: If using active dried yeast, you’ll need to activate it beforehand. In this case, you will need to use warm milk with a teaspoon or so of sugar (as the yeast is difficult to activate in cold milk). You should still use cold water and cold egg yolks. Also, if using active dried yeast, you’ll need a sightly larger quantity than the one listed in the recipe due to the way in which it’s produced and processed, use about 10g.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).