Danish Pastry Recipe – Prune Danish, Lemon Danish, Cheese Danish

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I had been looking and searching for a Danish pastry recipe and had not found one. I looked everywhere; in my cookbooks (even my beloved Secrets of a Jewish Baker cookbook didn’t have one) I searched online – nada. Sometimes you want something more than donuts for your breakfast treat, right?

Then one day I was looking through my King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Cookbook and what do I find? Yup! A recipe for danish pastry. I had the recipe under my nose the whole time and just didn’t know it.  I’ve made the recipe several times now and they always taste delicious. I am not the greatest shaper of danish but as I always say taste matters more than looks – right?

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Table of Contents

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Danish Pastry

Makes 32

3 cups + 2 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 large eggs
2 TBS melted butter, cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup dry milk
3 – 3 1/2 cups bread flour

Butter for rolling in:
2 cups butter just cool to the touch
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Cinnamon sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

egg wash – 1 egg mixed with 1 TBP water

Fillings:

Cheese
6 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 TBS all purpose flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Prune:
1/2 lb dried plums
1/2 cup sugar
water

Lemon Curd

Apricot Glaze

1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup water
1 TBS corn syrup

This is a two day dough so patience is involved. Could be why they taste so darn good.

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Mix the whole wheat pastry flour with the water to soften it. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Add the eggs, melted butter, the 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, yeast, the spices, and the vanilla.

Whisk dry milk with the bread flour and mix into the dough. Put on the dough hook, add the rest of the bread flour and knead for about 6 minutes until smooth.

Remove the dough and pat it into a 9″ square, wrap loosely and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you prepare the butter.

Prepare the roll in butter:
Mix butter and 1/4 cup flour until smooth and well blended. You can do this with a mixer, food processor or by hand with a spoon. Do not make it fluffy!

Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and put the butter on it and pat out into an 8″ square. Cover and refrigerate on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes.

Now comes the time consuming part. Making the “turns”.  I am no expert and my dough was NOT a thing of beauty. I don’t have photos for this part.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to a 12″ square. Put the butter in the center on the diagonal like a diamond. Fold the corners of the dough in towards the center. (This is all beautifully illustrated in the cookbook.) Roll the dough out to a 20″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust off any excess flour. Fold the bottom third up to the center and bring the top third down to cover. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Bring it out with the “open” side facing to the right. Do this THREE more times.

Wrap the dough LIGHTLY as it will rise and put it in the refrigerator overnight. (I told you it was a two day process!)

The next day bring the dough out and cut it in half. This is enough for two batches of danish. You can either make both batches or freeze one half of the dough for later.

Make a cinnamon filling by combining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Set aside.

Egg wash – 1 egg mixed with 1 tbs water

Make the cheese filling:
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth and well combined. Set aside until needed.

Make the prune filling:
Heat the dried plums/prunes in enough water to cover. As they soften make sure they do not burn by adding more water. Add the 1/2 cup sugar. Cook until very soft and thick. Puree in food processor until smooth. Set aside until needed.

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Take half of the dough and roll it out to 22″ x 12″. Brush half with the egg wash.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter.

Fold the dough in half.

Trim the edges so the dough is even and smooth.

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Cut the dough into 16 strips 11″ long by 3/4″ wide.

Twist each strip.

Roll the strips into circles and put them on parchment lined baking sheets. Let rise uncovered for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400*

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Smoosh down the centers and add your filling of choice. Brush with egg wash.

I made cheese, prune, lemon cheese, lemon and apricot cheese. I adore prune danish.

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Bake for 18 – 22 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before glazing with the apricot glaze.

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I must admit that while they weren’t the prettiest things I have ever made they were VERY tasty. For a first attempt I was happy. It won’t be the last attempt.

Make the Apricot Glaze
Mix apricot preserves, water, and light corn syrup  in a small saucepan over medium heat. Break the jam up as you mix. When it bubbles in the center remove from heat and pour through a sieve to remove any chunks. Brush over warm danish and filling to seal.

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How Were the Danish Pastry?

My favorite were the prune. I really do love a prune danish. The filling is so rich and sweet. mmmm.
This recipe is worth the work to me because it makes a pastry as delicious as those you buy in a bakery. It’s light despite using whole wheat flour, it’s crispy and the spices add that “what is that” flavor to the dough.

The danish pastry freeze beautifully after they have been baked. You can pull one or two out at a time and they take about five minutes to thaw. If you are looking for another pastry for your morning breakfast you might like an Apricot Couronne.

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