How to Make Homemade Danish Pastry
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.
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
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.
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.