This step by step guide to make a Danish Pastry Braid will teach you how to successfully make a braided pastry that is buttery, flaky and delicious! This recipe makes 2 Danish braids of about 12 inches long. For a braided bread, check out Cinnamon Roll Bread Loaf or Cinnamon Roll Bread with Medjool Date Filling.
One of the utmost joys of baking for me is that I can enjoy a warm, fresh out-of-the oven pastry right in the comfort of my own home. The sight of this Danish Pastry Braid inside the oven is a delight!
If fresh, homemade pastries bring you joy and you want to learn how to make it at home, then hang on here for a while. Let me guide how to make a Danish pastry from scratch, and create a beautiful braided fruit pastry out of it.
Flaky layers of yeasted dough that is filled with sweetened cream cheese and raspberry jam, it is heaven, I tell ya! If you love homemade pastries, you should also check out How to Make Croissants.
Okay, I will be honest to say that making Danish Pastry is not quick. However, the process involves simple steps that you can easily execute with proper guidelines. Making pastry at home should not be really overwhelming.
- First step is to create the yeast mixture.
- Next is to make the coarse mixture made with butter and flour.
- Then, we combine this mixture together to form a dough.
- Then the dough undergoes a series of rolling and folding. The Danish pastry is done!
- Lastly, we create the braid that may look so sophisticated but it is actually simple to make. Are you ready, let’s do it!
How to Make a Danish Pastry Braid
Add yeast to warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let this sit for a few minutes. The mixture will be cloudy or foamy. Stir in the egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Set this mixture aside.
Using pastry cutter. cut the butter into the flour in another mixing bowl. The mixture should look coarse now, with bits and chunks of butter all throughout. Its important not to overwork here.
Dump this entire mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix together just until combined. Again, do not overmix the dough. Some bits and chunks of butter are okay.
Cover the bowl with plastic film, then chill it in the fridge overnight. The next day, generously dust a working surface with flour.
Pat the dough into a rough square, then using a rolling pin, roll it out into a 15 inch square. Fold this square into thirds, as if you are folding a letter to be put into an envelope. This will give you a rectangle dough.
Now, rotate the dough so that the short edge is close to you. Roll this dough out into a 10 x 22 inch rectangle.
Fold this into thirds again, as shown in the photo below. This will give you a square-ish dough.
Roll out the square dough into a 15 inch square. Then, fold it in thirds again. Roll this out once more to a 10 x 22 inch rectangle.
Finally, divide this dough into 2 portions. This recipe makes two pastry braids. If you have other use for the pastry, this dough is ready now.
Assembly of the Danish Braid
We will work with one portion of dough at a time, so wrap the other dough portion and store it in the fridge. On a generously floured surface, roll the other dough to a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.
Transfer the dough into a parchment paper. Spread half of the cram cheese filling down the middle third of the dough. Top this with half of the jam.
Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut slanting lines that are 1 inch thick down the length of each side of the rectangle.
Then, fold one strips over to the center, alternating with another strip from the other side. This will create a braid-like assembly. Brush the tops with egg white, then sprinkle demerara sugar and sliced almonds on top.
Let this rest for 30 minutes. During this time, you can repeat the process with the other portion of the dough.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Bake the braid at 400 F for 25 minutes or until it is nicely golden.
And behold, the flaky crunch, the toasted almonds and the sweet and creamy filling! Life is good!
Pointers and Tips
- Dust your working surface generously to avoid dough sticking to it. Also, use a pastry scraper if the dough sticks to the surface when you lift it.
- If the dough warms up nd soften too much during rolling and folding, pop in the the fridge or freezer to chill, about 5-8 minutes.
- You can use whatever jam you prefer. I have tried this with apricot jam and it is so good too!
- Freezing and storing instructions of the dough are in the recipe card.
Also try these:
- Brioche Braid
- Brioche Bread Wreath with Honey Cream Cheese
- Chocolate Croissants
- Cream Cheese Croissants
Danish Pastry Braid
- 1 Pastry Cutter/ Pastry Blender
- ¼ cup warm water 105-115 ℉
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup milk warm
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 8 oz. butter cubed and chilled
For the Filling
- 8 oz. cream cheese softened
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup fruit jam
For the Top
- egg whites from one large egg
- 2 tbsp. demerara brown sugar
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Add the warm water to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over it and let the mixture sit for a few minutes until foamy or thick.
- Add the milk, egg, sugar and salt. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
- In a large bowl add the flour, then the cubed butter. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with bits of butter here and there. It is these bits that will give us the flaky pastry result, so make sure to not overwork here.
- Pour this crumb mixture into the yeast mixture in the other bowl. Use a wooden spoon to combine, Do not overmix, Again, we want the butter to remain in bits here. Overmixing can yield a tough, non-flaky pastry. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, take out the bowl of dough. Generously dust a clean surface with flour. Turn the dough over and pat into a rough square.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 15 inch square. Make sure to dust your surface well to prevent sticking.
- Fold the dough in thirds to form a rough rectangle. Rotate the dough so that the short edge is closest to you. If needed, use a pastry scraper to lift the edges of the dough if they are sticking.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle that measures 10 x 22 inches. Again, fold this in thirds. If at anytime the dough starts to warm up and soften, pop it in the fridge to or freezer to chill for 5-10 minutes.
- Next, Roll the dough out again into a 15 inch square.
- Fold this in thirds.
- Roll the dough to 10 x 22 inches rectangle once again, then fold this in thirds.
- Cut the dough in half. This recipe makes 2 Danish braid. Store one portion in the fridge while you work with the other one.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. Transfer the rectangle over a large parchment paper. On the center third along the length of the rectangle, spread half of the cream cheese filling. Spoon half of the fruit jam on top of the cream cheese.
- Cut slanting lines that are about 1 inch thick along both sides of the rectangle going down along its length.
- Fold one strip from both sides alternately towards the center to form a braid. Brush the tops with egg white. Sprinkle demerara sugar on top, followed by the sliced almonds.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Let the braided pastry rest for 30 minutes. It will not double, but the dough will soften and puff a little. Bake the Danish braid for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and crisp. Repeat the process with the other half of the pastry and filling, whenever it fits your schedule within a week ( see note).
The Cream Cheese Filing
- Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
- Dough Stickiness. Generously flour your working surface to prevent the dough from sticking. If dough sticks during rolling or folding, use a pastry scraper to lift the dough.
- Do not let the dough warm up. If at anytime the dough warms up and softens too much, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes or in the freezer for 5-8 minutes.
- Leftovers. Store leftover pastry at room temperature for up to 2 days, covered well in a container. Refrigerate the pastry to store it for up to a week.
- The other half of the dough. You can store the other portion of the dough in the fridge for up to a week, wrapped well in plastic. Similarly you can refrigerate the cream cheese filling and the fruit jam for up to a week, until you are ready to make your second braid.
- Freezing the Danish Pastry Dough. You can freeze the Danish pastry for up to a month. Wrap it well in plastic film, then in foil.