Homemade Danish Pastry Dough

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Follow these easy instructions and create flaky, buttery Danish pastry braids at home. 

Iced Raspberry Danish Braid - with homemade pastry using the quick method | sallysbakingaddiction.com

My favorite homemade pastry dough. Flaky, tender, and oh-so-buttery. It’s easy to make Danish pastry at home if you take your time and read through all of the simple instructions. There are plenty of visuals below the recipe to help guide you.

The dough must be sufficiently chilled whenever you are working with it. Because of all this chilling, this pastry is a wonderful recipe to begin the night before and serve as brunch the next morning. Or even prep the dough 3 days in advance so your work can be cut down when your guests arrive. Or if you’re super organized (I’m jealous), make the dough 1 month ahead of time and freeze it. (Detailed make-ahead instructions are written in the recipe below.)

It’s important to know that the dough recipe makes 2 lbs of dough, which equals 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.

Feel free to cut the pastry dough into different shapes and sizes, depending how you like your danishes. This recipe details how to make the dough into a braid.

Do NOT be overwhelmed. I made sure to break everything down very easily, so a lot of the text in this recipe is me being as thorough as possible. Be sure to use the photos below this recipe as a visual guide.

Homemade Danish Pastry Dough (Quick Method)

Follow these easy instructions and create flaky, buttery Danish pastry braids at home. Be sure to use the photos below this recipe as a visual guide.

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water, 105F-115F degrees
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 standard package)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature*
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (315g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 14 Tablespoons (210g) unsalted butter, cold

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk

Directions:

  1. Whisk the yeast and warm water together in a large bowl. Allow to sit for 3 minutes until foamy. Add milk, egg, granulated sugar, and salt. Once these wet ingredients are mixed together, set the bowl aside and make your butter/flour mixture.
  2. Cut butter into 1/4 inch slices and add to a food processor or blender. Top with flour. Pulse the mixture 10-12 times, until butter is fairly crumbled.
  3. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Very gently fold the two mixtures together. Do not be angry with the dough! You want to be very, very, very gentle when you are folding the two together. Fold *just until* the dry ingredients are moistened. The butter must remain in pieces, which creates a flaky pastry. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough up tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. After 4-12 hours, take the dough out of the refrigerator to begin the "rolling and folding" process. Flour a work surface. The dough will be sticky, so make sure you have flour nearby as you roll and fold. Using the palm of your hands, gently flatten the dough into a small square.  From there, roll out into a 15 inch long rectangle using your rolling pin. You may have to continue to lightly flour the counter as you are rolling. Fold the dough together as if it were a business letter. And roll it out into a 15 inch long rectangle again. Then, fold again into a business letter. You'll repeat rolling and folding 1 more time for a total of 3 times.
  5. Fold the dough up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
  6. After at least 30 minutes, take the dough from the refrigerator, unfold it, then cut it in half. Wrap 1 half up and keep chilled as you work with the first half. Roll out your dough to make a 12x6 inch rectangle. I rolled this dough out onto a floured work surface, but I suggest you roll it out onto a lined baking sheet. (Lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.) It is tough to transfer the braided dough from the counter to the baking sheet, unless you are very careful!
  7. Cut off two corners of the dough and then two small triangles at the other end. (visual below)
  8. Spread 1/2 of the filling (raspberry or cream cheese) down the length of the center of the strip. Cut slanting strips (3/4 inch - 1 inch each) along both sides. I used a very sharp knife, but a pastry wheel or pizza cutter will work just fine. I find this video VERY helpful. Fold the bottom end up to "seal" the filling in and allow the braid to rest for 15-20 minutes as you preheat your oven. Repeat with the second half of the dough and the rest of the filling.
  9. Preheat oven to 400F. Beat the egg wash ingredients together. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. There will be enough egg wash for both braids. The egg wash gives your pastry that beautiful sheen.
  10. Bake each braid for 15-16 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to rotate the pan at least two times to ensure the braid is browning evenly. My oven has hot spots, so I rotated my braid every 5 minutes. Mine took 16 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Drizzle with glaze, slice, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

*I tested this dough with 1% and skim milk. Would also work with 2% or whole. Avoid nondairy milk.

Make Ahead: prepare the dough through step 3. The dough at this point can be chilled overnight and up to 3 days. OR prepare the dough through step 5. Fold the dough up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. During this second chilling time, you could actually keep the dough frozen for up to 1 month. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you are ready to shape in step 6.

Adapted from Cooking IllustratedJoy of Cooking, and Beatrice Ojakangas

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

 

I made the dough in the evening, so pardon my horrible lighting in these photos.

 

1) First, you must start with the correct temperature of your ingredients. Temperature is imperative to the success of your Danish pastry dough.

Mix 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard packet) of active dry yeast into 1/4 cup of warm water. Allow to sit for 3 minutes until it is foamy. This is called “proofing the yeast.” Once bubbly and foamy, you can proceed to combine the yeast mixture with the other dough ingredients. If there is no foam in the bowl, the yeast is dead and you should start over with a new packet of yeast.

Whisk to mix it all together. Here is my proofed yeast:

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Whisk in 1/2 cup room temperature milk, 1 room temperature egg, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Once these wet ingredients are mixed together, set the bowl aside and make your butter/flour mixture.

2) Cut 14 Tablespoons of butter into 1/4 inch slices and add to a food processor or blender. Top with 2 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pulse the mixture 10-12 times, until butter is fairly crumbled.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

3) Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. VERY gently, fold the two mixtures together. Do not be angry with the dough! You want to be very, very, very gentle when you are folding the two together. Fold *just until* the dry ingredients are moistened. The butter must remain in pieces, which will create a flaky pastry.

Here is my dough about halfway through mixing the wet and dry ingredients:

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Wrap the dough up tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The dough at this point can be chilled overnight and up to 3 days.

4) After 4-12 hours (or up to 3 days), take the dough out of the refrigerator to begin the “rolling and folding” process. Flour a work surface. The dough will be sticky, so make sure you have flour nearby as you roll and fold.

Using the palm of your hands, gently flatten the dough into a small square.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

From there, roll out into a 15 inch long rectangle using your rolling pin.

Be careful. The dough is sticky.  You may have to continue to lightly flour the counter as you are rolling.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Notice all of the butter specks? That is a GOOD thing!

Fold the dough together as if it were a business letter.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

And roll it out into a 15 inch long rectangle again. Then, fold again into a business letter. You’ll repeat the “rolling and folding” three times.

Why are you doing this? Repeating the rolling and folding is creating the flaky layers in your pastry dough. If at any point in this process, your dough becomes way too soft, cover and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. And always, always make sure your work surface is floured since the dough is sticky.

5) After rolling and folding three times, fold it up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

During this second chilling time, you could actually keep the dough frozen for up to 1 month. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you are ready to shape.

6) After at least 30 minutes, take the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. Wrap 1 half up and keep chilled as you work with the first half.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Roll out your dough to make a 12×6 inch rectangle. You’ll want to have a ruler handy to measure.

I rolled this dough out onto a floured work surface, but I suggest you roll it out onto your lined baking sheet. It is tough to transfer the braided dough from the counter to the baking sheet, unless you are very careful!

7) Cut off two corners of the dough and then two small triangles at the other end:

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

8) Spread half of the filling (raspberry or cream cheese) down the length of the center of the strip. Cut slanting strips (3/4 inch – 1 inch each) along both sides. I used a very sharp knife, but a pastry wheel or pizza cutter will work just fine.

I find this video VERY helpful.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fold the bottom end up to “seal” the filling in and allow the braid to rest for 15-20 minutes as you preheat your oven.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

9) Preheat oven to 400F. Beat 1 egg with 2 Tablespoons of milk. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. This gives your pastry that beautiful sheen. There will be enough egg wash left for your second braid.

10) Bake for 15-16 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to rotate the pan at least two times to ensure the braid is browning evenly. My oven has hot spots, so I rotated my braid every 5 minutes.

How to make Danish Pastry Braid (a step-by-step tutorial) by sallysbakingaddiction.com

11) Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Drizzle with glaze, slice, and enjoy!

Iced Raspberry Danish Braid - with homemade pastry using the quick method | sallysbakingaddiction.com

30 Comments

  1. Hi, I have made this Danish Pastry dough numerous times this past month and it is delicious! All your explanations and tips are so very helpful! I have made it with a variety of fruit fillings. Have you made it with almond filling? Should I use almond paste? Or possibly mix almond flavoring with cream cheese? Put almond flavoring in the frosting and then top with sliced almonds? Thank you!

    1. Hi Tracey! I’m so happy you enjoy this Danish pastry dough! I suggest almond paste– will be so delicious! Almond extract in the icing, plus a sprinkle of sliced almonds would be a lovely finishing touch. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. I’m on my second round of this recipe.It is the easiest method I’ve used to make this type of pastry. AWESOME! My husband loves this recipe.

  3. Hi, Made this today and it was delicious! Do the leftovers (with cream cheese and cherry filling) need to be refrigerated? Thanks!

    1. Hi Janet! No need for a mixer, but using one should be fine. A food processor is KEY to breaking up that butter though. If needed, you can use a pastry cutter instead.

    1. My mom is allergic to cheese. She loves danish. There was a danish we used to get at Jewel Osco that was just the danish, glaze and mini chocolate chips. I found this recipe and decided to recreate it. I made two batches. One to make the braids…(brown sugar cinnamon and the other chocolate chip) and the rest of the dough I made individual squares that I put glaze and chocolate chips on. StaThey turned out amazing! I wish I could send you pictures.

  4. Question about direction 6.
    5. fold up the dough. chill.
    6.Do you unfold the dough then, cut a half ?
    I tried to look the photo closely but can’t tell.
    Thank you, Sally.

      1. I know you are a super busy lady, Sally but we all appreciated that you answer all questions we ask. Thank you so much for your hard work and I truly enjoy your site.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful recipe and the great pictures and instructions! Can this pastry dough also be shaped differently instead of a filled braid? I am thinking about round pastries topped with a little filling. Thanks!

  6. Have you tried shaping and then freezing and baking later? Different shaped individual ones, frozen without the filling, then add it in before baking, is what I’m looking for?

  7. Hi Sally! Making this tonight. Can I make it a couple hours ahead of time with filling and refrigerate, and just pop in oven when guests are over? Thanks!

    1. Hi Julie! I’m sorry, I’m just seeing this message now. Yes, you can prepare ahead of time and bake it fresh when ready.

  8. a couple of years ago you had an Apple Danish recipe.

    Do you still have the recipe on your site? or could you tell me how to make the apple filling again?

    It was delicious and I cannot find where my copy is!! 🙁

  9. Hi Sally!

    I am hoping to make individual danishes and would like to use peach filling.

    1. Could I make the filling the same way you would for a fruit pie for the danish?
    2. Would it be too much to add a thin layer of cream cheese and then top with the peach filling?

    1. Cream cheese peach danishes sound SO delicious!!! You can certainly make the fruit filling the same as the pie, but when you scoop it out of the bowl use a fork or slotted spoon so that you leave the liquid on the bottom of the bowl. Enjoy!

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