Many people think of any morning sweet roll as a “Danish.” According to master baker Nancy Silverton, co-owner of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, a true Danish is made with a particular style of yeasted dough, richly layered with butter and fragrant with cardamom and nutmeg. As with doughnuts, a homemade version is a revelation, well worth the bother for special occasions. The multiple steps can be slowed down over several days to better fit into your schedule.
Game plan: Danish pastry benefits from a minimum of strokes and handling. If at any time the butter feels soft and squishy, immediately put the pastry in the refrigerator for a few minutes, long enough to firm it again. If the butter melts into the dough before baking, you won’t get the multiple layers that distinguish this pastry.