Taste and see …

Cheese danish June 5, 2010

Filed under: Breads,Desserts — F. Penner @ 4:41 PM
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Several weeks ago now, I finally had the time to make cheese danish – all the way from scratch!  I’d had the recipe sitting around for months – it was in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I think possibly one of their Christmas baking issues – and I finally had a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.  So I got everything I needed and set to work making the danish.  In between letting the danish dough sit in the fridge, I also made a couple loaves of bread, but rest assured that I’m not usually that ambitious – I don’t normally set out to make 2 time-consuming things in the same day, at the same time.  It just happened to work out that while I could go back and forth between the two, so I went for it!  (The bread will not be on here, sadly, although it was pretty tasty 🙂 )

So the danish… time consuming and somewhat frustrating for non-pastry chefs…  You have to blend butter and flour together, then mold it into a 5-inch square.  And the dough… I do not like sticky doughs… I’m never sure how sticky is too sticky, when I need to add that last 1/4 cup of flour, etc.  I think that having to scrape the dough off of the plastic wrap it was wrapped in is an indicator that I should have a) greased the plastic wrap somehow or b) added more flour.  I also think that I really wanted to get to bed at a decent-ish time and I might not have let the dough chill as long as I should have… so consequently I think it was a little heavier/denser than it’s supposed to be… However, it still tasted pretty good, and people seemed to like it, so that’s really all that matters, right? 🙂

Danish dough

Dough
  • 1 3/4 (8 3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz.) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Butter square
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces and kept cold
  • 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. For the dough: Whisk 1 1/2 cups of flour with sugar, yeast, and salt in medium bowl.  Place milk and egg in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add flour mixture and knead at low speed until smooth ball of dough forms, 7-8 minutes. (Dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to sides of bowl than to itself, add remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.)  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. For the butter square: Mix together butter and flour and mold into even 5-inch square.  Refrigerate butter square until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Roll dough into 9-inch square.  Place chilled butter square diagonally onto dough.  Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that they meet in middle and pinch ends of dough together to seal.  Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center of dough and going outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften.  At this point, start gently rolling dough into 11-inch square, checking often to make sure dough is not sticking and dusting with additional flour as necessary.  Do not let butter square break through dough.  Fold square into thirds to form long rectangle, as if folding business letter.  (This method of folding is called a “turn.”)  Starting at narrow ends, fold rectangle in thirds again to form square.  You have now given dough 2 turns.  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Repeat step 3, giving dough 2 additional turns (for a total of 4 turns) and chilling again for at least 4 hours.

Danish braid

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On large sheet of parchment paper, roll chilled dough into 14-inch square.  Spread filling (recipe below) onto center third of dough and form braid by using a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the outer thirds into 3/4 inch strips (so that cuts are at an angle to the filling).  Stop cuts 1/4-inch shy of filling.  Alternating sides, fold strips over filling, crisscrossing strips over center and pressing ends to seal, until entire Danish is braided.  Transfer braid, still on parchment, to large baking sheet.  Cover braid loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until puffy (it will not double), about 30 minutes.
  3. Bake until braid is golden brown, 22-26 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.  Place braid on wire rack and brush with glaze (recipe below) while still hot.  Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Using soupspoon, drizzle braid with icing (recipe below).  Slice crosswise and serve.
Cream cheese filling (makes about 1 cup, enough for 2 braids)
  • 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz.) sugar

Using spoon, mix all ingredients together thoroughly in medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Danish glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 5 tsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk ingredients together in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.

Danish icing
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. milk

Whisk ingredients together in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.