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How to Make Homemade Danish Pastry

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

For most people the idea of making homemade Danish pastry is daunting. It does take a bit of time but the sweet, flaky results are so superior to purchased Danish that is it well worth it to take a Saturday off and make this delicious breakfast treat.

This dough can be used for large pastries, as here, or individual pastries, and can be used in any recipe that calls for a Danish dough. Danish pastry is a laminated dough, which means that many layers are created by folding and turning. The butter creates pockets that will make the dough flakey and light when it is baked.

The unbaked Danish dough freezes well, so when you make it make several batches and freeze it after the final turn. It will be good for three months in your freezer. Just thaw and use as directed. Baked dough can be frozen for a month. When ready to use do not thaw but place in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes or until warm all the way through.


Ingredients For the Danish Pastry

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • ½ cup flour

Ingredients for the Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries or other fruit

Make the Danish Pastry Dough

Add ¼ cup lukewarm water to the yeast in a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes or until the mixture is foamy. Stir in the sugar, salt, egg yolks, vanilla, and milk. Begin adding flour stirring until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a soft and sticky dough.

Butter the top and cover tightly. Chill the dough for one hour.

Make the Butter Layer

For successful laminated dough the butter should be kept icy cold at all times. Rub the countertop with ice and then place a sheet of wax paper over the chilled countertop. Place the butter on the wax paper and beat with a rolling pin until it is smooth and easy to work with but still cold. Add the remaining ½ cup flour and work it into the butter until the mixture is smooth. Form the mixture into a six inch square and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill it for 30 minutes.

Dough after the first turn is completed. (c) Marye Audet 2008
Dough after the first turn is completed. (c) Marye Audet 2008 | Source

Laminating the Dough

On a surface that has been well dusted with flour roll the dough into a 12 inch square. Lay the butter diagonally in the center of the square and fold the corners of the dough over the butter. Be sure to enclose the butter completely. Seal the edges of the dough by pinching.

Flatten the dough gently by pressing the rolling pin into it. Roll from the center outward. Do not roll over the ends but stop rolling when you are within ½ inch of the ends of the dough. Turn the dough 180 degrees and roll the dough in the same way. Continue to roll the dough until you have an 8 inch by 18 inch rectangle. You may need to flour the counter a few times to keep the dough from sticking. If it is a warm day or the butter starts to melt just immediately stop and chill the dough for about 15 minutes before proceeding.

When the rectangle is the correct size, brush off any flour that might be on the dough. Fold the top quarter of the rectangle down to the center of the rectangle. Now fold the bottom to the center, leaving some space between the two ends. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half and close like a book. Turn the dough 90 degrees so that a short side faces you and roll it into an 18 x 8 rectangle again. Fold it again just as before. Mark the lower right corner of the dough by pressing a finger into the dough. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Two turns are completed.

Repeat this process two more times always beginning with a short side facing you. Chill the dough between the turns. After the last turn chill the dough, tightly wrapped, overnight.

Folding and Shaping Laminated Dough

The filling is spooned down the center of the dough.
The filling is spooned down the center of the dough. | Source

Make the Filling

You can certainly use any filling you like in this. Poppyseed Nut Almond Paste Fruit Preserves Dried Fruit Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie Filling. These are the instructions for the cream cheese filling, which I covered with fresh strawberries.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, salt, lemon and orange zest and flour until the mixture is smooth. Chill over night.

The unbaked Danish Braid.
The unbaked Danish Braid. | Source

To Assemble the Pastry

Roll each half of the dough into a 16 x 8 inch rectangle. Trim the edges evenly.

  • Spoon half the filling down the center of each rectangle.
  • Cut the long edges of the rectangle as if you were cutting fringe.
  • Fold first one piece of fringe over the filling then fold the corresponding piece from the other side, as if you were braiding.
  • Brush the pastries with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water and sprinkle with sugar crystals.
  • Turbinado crystals work best for this because the crystals are large.
  • Let rise for one hour. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 30 minutes or until golden.


Make the Glaze

  • 1 ¼ confectioners' sugar

  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together until a smooth, pourable glaze is formed. Add a little water if the glaze is too thick. Drizzle the glaze over the warm pastry.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i am curious about using butter or shortening for making danish...i sincerely hate butter and i have made danish with the special baking shortening for making turnover..just wondered if that is how pastry chefs make danish or croissants

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      "I'm looking for a receipe for what I call danish pastry sold in bakeries or grocery stores. the dough does not seem to have yeast.... more sweet than bread-like"

      It may be puff pastry that you are looking for. Danish Pastry dough is similar except the Danish dough traditionally includes yeast and eggs.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As a professional pastry chef, I do all of my own baking at home............everything from danish to bread, cakes, cookies and even some of those things many wouldn't, such as english muffins, once you make your own you won't be back paying $4 for 6 english muffins barly fit to eat!

      As with anything else, you have to put some "effort" in if you want a return!

      Once you have mastered danish dough go ahead and do puff pastry, croissants, and even phyllo! There isn't a grocery store in America selling anything even close!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Loove this recipe:) I now want to learn how to do it.

    • profile image

      John New Zealand 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the recipe will try it tomorrow, I used to make puff pastry, book folding is the same.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am very interested in baking, im only 12 and hope to be a pastry chef some day, in school we're doing a Cafe Around The World type thing and i picked Denmark, gonna try this recipe, im so excited, thanks Marye.

    • profile image

      Jeremy and Jenny 

      8 years ago

      Just finished making these and they are divine! Most certainly worth the time and effort. we used fresh picked raspberries for the fruit and added a little orange and lemon juice to the glaze. thanks for the recipe!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Marye Audet, excellent!, I'm an old sour dougher, I think this time tomorrow I'll be able to tell you how it turns out. The method of braiding was the one thing I really lacked to get away from twists. Thank you, 50

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i'm looking for a receipe for what I call danish pastry sold in bakeries or grocery stores. the dough does not seem to have yeast.... more sweet than bread-like


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have made danish for years... it is a FAV of my now grown/with children of their own.. This is a GREAT demo and I am pscyed to try your way... the strawberries look awesome... and NO BAKERY BOUGHT DANISH TASTES HOMEMADE !!! U ROCK !!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm so excited to make this I was dreaming of danish pastries I cant wait to try this recipe ! and I agree people have become so lazy everything has to be fast and easy!? I have just recently started making everything we eat from scratch and it is sooo worth it, it does take allot of time but I include my children to help me prepare food and they love to bake so I get to spend time with my family and my girls learn to cook it doesn't get any better. I'm a believer that the family should be spending more time together less time working and watching t.v.

    • profile image

      s. tyler 

      8 years ago

      my daughter wanted danish{she has celaics} so I used this recipe using flour from a gluten free bread mix (bob's red mill) and itturned out great and she was very happy with the taste and texture.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful to see people passionate about good food. Unfortunately laziness is upon some, I say keep up the good work. Its people like you, that inspire me to cook and research new recipes. Your recipes are delicious!

    • Treleven-Vilceus profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      mmm... looks really nice I have to try that one especially for my kids. Thanks

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice Marye. And you're definitely right, nothing is as good as home made. I started baking my own bread last year and I'll never go back to buying any. Yes, it takes time, but the phrase: "nothing worth while is easy", comes to mind.

      Thanks for the guidance...

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      betty...maybe. but not nearly as good.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      way to much time to make lot easier and cheaper to buy already made

    • profile image

      G. R. Nickel 

      9 years ago

      I lost my orignal recipe. This one is the closet that I have found. Most people think it is so difficult to make. NO WAY! Just takes a little time. But ejoy a cup of tea or coffee while you wait for the dough to chill. Keeping the dough chilled is the secret to making "Danish". Don't let the recipe intimadate you, it is so easy to follow!

    • 2patricias profile image


      10 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      This recipe might be possible! Thanks for a yummy hub.

    • jim10 profile image


      10 years ago from ma

      This danish pastry recipe sounds so good. I love to bake but you are right making Danish pastry does sound very difficult. But with this recipe and the I think I might give it a try. There is a Danish Pastry a few town over from me and their pastries are amazing. I only wish it was closer so that I could go more often. I don't think I will be able to compete with theirs. Your fringes look tricky. But, I'm always up for a challenge.


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