Follow these detailed instructions and create a flaky, buttery cream cheese danish at home!
One of the kitchen challenges I gave myself last year was to make homemade Danish pastry. You know those buttery, flaky, fruit/cream cheese filled pastries at catered breakfasts and meetings? They’re totally irresistible, I know.
Making Danish pastry at home was extremely intimidating, but I put on my big girl pants last October and spent days in my kitchen trying my hand at it. Call me determined, call me pastry crazy, call me whatever but I finally got it! Lucky for us, the recipe I use to make our beloved pastries at home is a quick-method.
If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time. Don’t be scared; you can do this too!
My Danish pastry dough and method is an adaption of several trusted sources: Cooking Illustrated, Joy of Cooking, and pastry master Beatrice Ojakangas. I studied the three methods and sort of mish-mashed them all together. Using what I learned, I made a beautiful Iced Raspberry Danish Braid and brought it to Kevin’s parents’. If heaven had a taste, it would be my raspberry danish braid.
Baking with Yeast Guide
Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.
In case you missed it a few months ago, let me explain what Danish pastry is.
What is Danish Pastry?
Danish pastry is made from flour, yeast, milk, eggs, and copious amounts of butter. The texture is similar to croissant dough, but tastes sweeter (and has the addition of egg in the dough). Like croissants, typical Danish pastry dough is rolled out thinly, then folded into numerous layers with a butter square. Flaky, buttery layers. That’s what makes it so good!
My Shortcut to Danish Pastry
Rather than laminating the dough with a butter square like Danish and croissant dough typically requires, I cut the cold butter into the dough. Which is a method I use for making my favorite pie crust. You’ll still get the flaky, buttery layers you love about Danish pastries, but you’ll cut a lot of work from the process.
I have a separate page for you dedicated to preparing and shaping this Danish braid. Before you begin, I suggest reading through the entire dough recipe. It takes some planning ahead. Certain ingredients must be at room temperature, certain ingredients must be warm, while others must be cold. Temperature is very imperative to the success of your Danish pastry dough! So be sure to be prepared by reading my instructions first.
The dough must be sufficiently chilled whenever you are working with it.
There are two stages of chilling:
- Chill the dough right after you prepare it. Chill it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours. (And up to 3 whole days.)
- Chill the dough after the “roll and fold” process (of which I detail in the pastry dough recipe) and before you braid it. Chill for at least 30 minutes. During this second chilling time, you could actually keep the dough frozen for up to 1 month. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Because of all the chilling, this pastry is a wonderful recipe to begin the night before and serve as brunch the next morning. Or even prep the dough a few days in advance so your work can be cut down. I detail make-ahead instructions in the pastry dough recipe.
It’s important to know that this recipe makes 2 lbs of dough, which equals 2 braids. The filling and glaze recipes below are enough for 2 braids. 1 braid should serve 4-6 people. Make 2 braids for company. If you don’t need that many tempting danishes around, freeze the second half of the dough for a later time. That’s what we do!
The filling I used is a simple cream cheese mixture. Lightly sweetened and the perfect creamy center for the flaky dough. It sort of tastes like cheesecake. Cheesecake tucked inside buttery pastry. Oh yes. I dotted the cream cheese filling with blueberries and topped the braid with a few sliced almonds before baking. (Also a simple egg wash to leave a shiny finish.)
Once the braid is finished, you’ll drizzle it immediately with a simple glaze. Try to go very light on the glaze because you’ll want the cream cheese filling to stand out. Toasted almonds, cheesecake filling, juicy blueberries, flaky pastry, vanilla glaze. What a combination of flavors this braid has!
Creating homemade danishes at home is totally doable. Just take some time to read through the easy instructions before you begin and plan ahead. That will make the whole pastry-making-process much easier for you! It’s not rocket science, it’s fruity pastry. Don’t be overwhelmed by my wordy instructions. The more thorough I am, the more help you have to make a successful braided pastry.
You can do this!Print
Follow these easy instructions and create a flaky, buttery cream cheese danish at home!
- 1 recipe Homemade Danish Pastry Dough (step-by-step photos included)
Cream Cheese Filling
- 8oz (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
- optional: 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) heavy cream or milk
- Make the cheese filling: You can start the dough (next step) and prepare this filling during one of the chill times. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and egg yolk together on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the Danish pastry dough through step 11.
- Spread 1/2 of the cheese filling down the length of the center of the strip, which should be about 3 inches wide. Dot with 1/2 of the blueberries. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel, or pizza cutter, cut 10 slanting strips (3/4 – 1 inch wide each) along both sides. Fold strips over dough, alternating each side to resemble a twist or a braid. Fold the bottom end up to seal the filling inside. Repeat with the second half of the dough and the rest of the filling and blueberries. The braids may seem very narrow, but they puff up and out as they bake.
- Egg Wash: Whisk the egg wash ingredients together. Brush all over dough. Sprinkle each braid with almonds, if using.
- If you have room in your refrigerator, refrigerate both pastry braids as the oven preheats. If not, set aside at room temperature, lightly covered, as the oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Bake each braid for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Some butter may leak from the dough, that’s completely normal and expected. Feel free to remove the baking sheets from the oven halfway through baking and brush the dough with any of the leaking butter, then place back in the oven to finish baking. (That’s what I do!)
- Remove baked danish braids from the oven and cool for at least 5 minutes before icing/glazing.
- Vanilla Icing: Whisk the icing ingredients together. If you want a thicker icing, whisk in more confectioners’ sugar. If you want a thinner icing, whisk in more milk or cream. Drizzle over warm pastries and serve.
- Braids taste best served on the same day. Dough may be prepared in advance. See make ahead & freezing instructions in the pastry dough recipe.
- Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
Keywords: blueberries n cream danish braid, blueberry danish braid