potato & cheddar danishes

potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

This dreadful idea came to me a few years ago while I was preparing for a university club bakesale: a danish filled with thin layers of potato and cheese. And, even worse, in the form of a neat square-shaped danish which necessitates a neatly cut square-shaped filling.

What a horrendous idea. Each time I make these, I survey a work surface covered in bechamel and swear I will never make them again. Though, given that I’ve made these finicky danishes four times, perhaps they are worth it.

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potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

These danishes are essentially a chunk of potato gratin tucked inside a flaky pastry. There is no way that this quantity of cheese and butter and carb cannot be delicious and so of course these danishes are delicious.

In order to make these danishes, we first assemble the filling as a sort of potato cake – layering together potatoes, a thick bechamel, along with some herbs or other toppings. The “bechamel” is not so much a sauce as it is a vehicle for aged cheddar rendered in a thick spreadable form. It holds the potatoes together and provides the body for the potato gratin-esque filling. This cake is then cut it into squares and tucked inside the unbaked pastry. That is the finicky part.

But the amazing part? As it bakes, the bechamel bubbles, the pastry puffs and flakes, and the potato and cheese on the surface crisps.

potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

There are not too many photos of the actual process because, as hinted: bechamel – everywhere. Potato slices – everywhere. Bits of filling – everywhere. Plus a bit of stress-induced hypertension. However, a tip to reduce the stress of making these danishes is to assemble the potato cake ahead of time – as ahead of time as you like. Putting it in the fridge helps it firm up so it can be cut more neatly, and reduce just how much is going on at once.

In previous renditions, I’ve included caramelized onions and bacon, but in this most recent version I’ve instead focused on additions that balance the richness – plenty of chopped chives and some freshly grated horseradish. It’s been my favourite variation so far!

potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

potato gratin danishes

  • Servings: 6 danishes
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In other renditions I’ve layered caramelized onions and crisped bacon between the layers as well. If desired, feel free to layer those in the potato cake along with the herbs! I have also made the bechamel with half-and-half instead of milk. Milk is sufficient, but your choice…

danish pastry

  • half batch of danish pastry, recipe here
  • this time around I used only 1 egg and increased the water to 85g

bechamel

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 120mL milk  
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g aged white cheddar, shredded
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt, or to taste  
  • Grated fresh horseradish to taste

assembly

  • 150g small waxy potatoes
  • 3 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 40g aged white cheddar, shredded

bechamel

Heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook until it begins to turn a little bit golden. Slowly whisk in the milk and add the bay leaf. Continue heating until the milk is very warm, whisking constantly.

Melt in the cheddar, a handful at a time. Season with plenty of black pepper, salt to taste and some fresh grated horseradish to taste (alternatively, you could add a bit of mustard). Transfer to a container and chill completely.  When cold, it will be like a paste. 

assembly 

Slice the potatoes 1/8″ thick using a mandolin. Cook in boiling salted water until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside to cool.

To prepare the gratin-like filling, we’ll be making a layered “cake” of potato slices. In a rectangular container that is around 15x10cm, set down a layer of parchment paper. Spread the paper with a bit of bechamel. Cover with a layer of potato slices. Spread with some more bechamel and sprinkle with some thyme and chives. Cover with a second layer of potatoes. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the container and put on top of the potato cake.

Chill the potato cake completely to help it firm up a tad. 

Meanwhile, roll out the danish pastry. Roll out the pastry into a shape large enough to be trimmed into a sharp-edged rectangle with the dimensions of 20x30cm or 22x33cm. Freeze the pastry for 30min in order to firm it up before trimming and slicing the pastry. (Optional and time consuming, but I think this helps gives the edges more definition in terms of layers.)

In the meantime, we can return to the potato cake. To remove the potato cake, place your hand on the top sheet of parchment, invert the cake, and lift off the container. Flip the cake over once more, sandwiched between the sheets of parchment paper, so that it is right side up again. Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. Using a sharp knife or bench cutter, trim the edges to make them straight and cut the cake into 6 square pieces, each about 5x5cm or less.

Now that your danish pastry is very chilled and firm, trim it into a 20x30cm rectangle or a 22x33cm rectangle (whichever one fits). Cut into six 10 or 11cm squares. Once the pastry has softened up, fold each square in half and make two cuts, 1cm in from the edge. Open up the square, pick up the borders and flip them across each other to make a set of walls around the danish (see photo for clarity). As the borders are about 1cm, this should be give you a 5-6cm central area depending on how big the danishes were initially. 

potato cheddar danish

Use the bench scraper to slide underneath a square of the potato cake and pick it up. Push the cake off with a butter knife to settle it neatly within the pastry walls of the danish. Pull the corners of the walls outwards a bit to ensure the potato cake is settled in. Smear a bit more bechamel on top and sprinkle with a bit of the remaining thyme and green onion. Place the danishes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining squares to make 6 danishes.

Cover the danishes with plastic and let rise until puffed and about 1.5-2x the previous height, about two hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Sprinkle the tops of the danishes with the shredded cheddar. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature to 350F. Continue baking for another 15-25 minutes (total 25-35) or until the danishes are a deep golden brown. 

Best eaten day of, and even better eaten while still warm. 

 

15 thoughts on “potato & cheddar danishes

    1. Thank you Markus and Micah! Danishes definitely take some time and planning… it’s not something I do very often (while I’ve made these ones four times, that’s been over a period of about 4 years!)

      I do hear that this type of dough freezes well which can help break up the steps. Plus, with a large batch of dough you can experiment with some different fillings too 🙂

      Like

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