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"Danish" pastry vs. "French" pastry

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As I munched on some little pastries today from my local bakery, I pondered yet again the difference between the doughs used in "Danish" pastry (which I think is actually more German/Austrian in origin, and is the "default" pastry for traditional American baked goods) and French pastry. Why is it that no matter how flaky and crisp it looks, "Danish" pastry is always softer, less crisp, dare I even say soggier?, than French pastry.

Is it the ingredients? The technique? Do some people actually prefer it?

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  1. I could be totally "off" here, but I have always thought that most French pastry is puff pastry based which is those lovely gazillion layers of dough & butter whereas the "Danish" was a yeast based buttery thing. Of course this is grossly simple and there are myriad variations, and as a pastry person of the Austrian ilk, I think the field is too vast to generalize. As for preferences- as a breakfast I like yeasty soft, and with cafe I like crisp contrasted with creamy.

    1. In my understanding, Danish pastry is yeasted and contains eggs, whereas French pastry is always a variation of butter + flour.

      2 Replies
      1. re: piccola

        French dough can be yeasted (croissant dough is yeasted, and some French pastries use croissant-type doughs), but I think you hit on something with the eggs -- that would definitely give it that softer, moister texture.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          True re: yeast. Though I think the proportion of butter to flour is different in French pastry than the Danish kind.

      2. Google "wienerbrod," the Danish word for Danish pastry. (wien, of course, is Vienna) and you'll see the recipes for creating the pastry. To me, the method looks similar to making croissant dough.

        I do remember crispy Danish pastries in Copenhagen. I've also had soft, authentic croissant. Maybe it has to do with how many hours the pastry has sat around or whether it was wrapped in something. That's my take on it.