I love this pastry, it is so delicate and buttery. It can be filled with any thing you might use in a tart or a pie. Even curd or cream cheese fillings are delicious, and someday I plan on trying to make it savoury. But today I had an abundance of blueberries so that was my filling of choice. Plus I love blueberries I think they are delicious and a gorgeous colour contrast against the pastry. If you hate blueberries then just picture this filled with raspberry, or apple, but definitely try this recipe out. This danish braid impresses with its look and taste. I love giving it as gifts when you take the lid off the scent of fresh pastry is so perfect it fills the room. Think I am selling it too hard, maybe, but I rarely say something is great. This. Is. Great.
It starts by making a yeast mixture as if you were making bread and the flour and butter as if you were making pastry. Start by putting warm water in a bowl and sprinkling it with the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it start getting bubbly for about 5 minutes.
While you wait put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix together. Add in the cold butter, and using your hands crumble the butter and flour together until you get coarse crumbs.
Now that the yeast mixture is active add in the beaten eggs, sugar, and cream. Gently mix together. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture.
Using a spatula carefully fold it together until the flour is all moistened (I feel in baking it is the only place the word moist is appropriate…although I am now questioning that). You may need to use your hands to bring the dough together, but just enough until it holds together.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and pour the dough onto it and pat into the shape of a disk. Wrap it tightly (trust me one of the first time I did this it grew out of the saran wrap in the fridge, not good) in the plastic wrap. Even two layers might be a good idea. It doesn’t need to be super tight just well sealed. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I usually make this the day before and leave it overnight.
When it has had a chance to slow rise it will not be overly large, but it will be larger. It will also look like its straining to get out of the plastic wrap. Don’t worry beautiful dough, we will free you soon. Yes I even type-talk to my food.
Cut the dough in half, this recipe is enough for two. You can make two braids, or freeze half the dough it stays good a few months.
Using half the dough roll it out into a large rectangle, about 12 x 16. I find it helps to give the dough a couple whacks with the rolling pin to get it started. Here you can see how there are flakes of butter dotting the rolled out dough, that is a very good thing. You want to see that in your pastry it will makes for flaky little air pockets in the danish.
Now it’s time to do a letter fold, we are going to repeat this process three times. It is a bit of arm work but worth the effort. Start but lifting the bottom of the rectangle and folding it towards the middle of the rectangle. Fold the top of the rectangle over to the middle as if you were folding a letter. The pictures are helpful here as even my written explanation is confusing me.
Now turn the dough 90 degrees and fold in half. Lets take it from the top!!! Ok that wasn’t funny but seriously dough it again. Roll into the rectangle 12×6, letter fold, turn 90 degrees, fold in half. Now one more time! Everybody say it roll, letter fold, turn 90 degrees, fold in half. Ok I think that was three times, if you lose count no worries just do an extra one for fun. This whole paragraph proves I need to get a life, moving on.
Wrap the roll and folded dough securely in plastic wrap again and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. While it chills we can make the filling, I did blueberry, but this could easily be switched to raspberry or strawberry you do you.
Start by getting the ingredients. Blueberries, sugar and cornstarch, lemon juice, and a bit of salt.
Place the blueberries in a pan over medium heat and sweat the berries stirring occasionally. Once they start to release their juice, after about 7 minutes, add in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine.
Now cook the blueberry mixture down until it bubbles and begins to thicken, stirring often. This will only take about 5 minutes, and you will be able to visual see the difference. It will not be runny and will have really decreased in volume.
Once its thickened remove from heat and stir in juice from half a lemon. Place it in a bowl in the fridge to cool down. Guess what? While it cools we can take a break. Or maybe you want to make this in advance, that is a great idea too. This is perfect in a pie, tart, or on top of pancakes.
Now that everything is ready lets assemble the braid. Start by, you guessed it, rolling out the dough into a 12×6 rectangle. If you need to trim up the edges to make it even that is fine.
To make life easy I transfer the dough rectangle on to a place of parchment paper to make lifting it to the tray easier after its braided.
Ok this is the fun part grab a sharp knife, pizza or pastry cutter and lets turn this rectangle into a ghost from PAC-MAN. I could say cut off the top two corners and make two small triangles in the bottom, but somehow I feel like the other description is a simpler task. At least its what I picture doing when I am making it, otherwise my corners aren’t even or my triangles are off center.
Now fill the pasty with a generous layer of blueberry filling down the centre. This will use about half the amount, enough left for the other braid or for something else. Take you cutter and make three slashes on each side of the filling. Try and keep them roughly the same size and make the cut almost touch the filling.
Now place the left slice across the filling to the other side, cross the right piece over top back to the left. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Now make three more slices and repeat the criss crossing pattern. At some point you will realize your PAC-MAN ghost has started to look like a rocket (or something phallic) but it makes sense you’re excited its almost done!
Three more slices and criss cross (will make you jump jump). Once you get to the bottom three slices its time to tuck the end of the dough up to secure the filling.
Fold up the end and criss cross with two of the three slices. You should now have a sealed end and a slice of pastry remaining on each side. Carefully remove those two slices and discard. Allow the braid to rest, covered with a tea towel, for about 15 – 20 minutes.This is the perfect time to preheat the oven.
Once the oven is ready make and egg wash and generously brush the top of the braid. This will make the pastry a lovely golden brown as it bakes. You will notice the braid has puffed back up, but don’t worry this is normal.
Bake the braid in the oven for about 14-16 minutes, depending on your oven. I turn the tray halfway through baking.
Remove the cooked braid from the oven and let it cool 10 – 15 minutes. The first time I made this it looked so puffy I figured I somehow messed up and made french bread filled with blueberry. But as it cools it will start to flatten back out.
Finally its cooled, your kitchen smells glorious, and you just want to eat it. You could eat it, right now if you want, but I like to make a quick glaze to drizzle over the top of the braid.
Take icing sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream and mix until combined. You don’t want this to be runny, add more icing sugar if you need to thicken it up. Using a pipping bag, or spoon, drizzle the icing back and forth over the danish braid.
Now eat it, all of it if you’d like, because you made it!…plus good news you have enough leftover to make a second one to share.
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temp.
1 large egg, room temp.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
15 tablespoons cold butter, in pieces
2 tablespoons milk
- In a small bowl pour the warm water, sprinkle the sugar and yeast on top of the water. Leave for 5 minutes to get foamy
- While yeast is activating grab a large bowl add the flour and salt, mix to combine.
- Pour the butter pieces into the flour mixture, using your hands crumble the butter and flour together. It should resemble coarse crumbs. You want to be able to still see pieces of butter.
- By now the yeast should be waking up, gently beat one egg and add to the yeast mixture.
- Add the sugar and heavy cream to the yeast mixture, using a spatula gently still to combine.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Using a spatula fold the ingredients together until all the flour is wet and the dough is beginning to hold together. Do not overwork.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and pour the dough on top. Using your hands pat the dough into a disk until it all comes together. Wrap securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, up to overnight.
- Once the dough has properly chilled it will be pushing against the plastic wrap and will be ready to roll out.
- Divide the dough in half, either freeze remaining half or refrigerate and make a second braid in the next few days.
- On a well floured counter top roll out the dough into a 12×6 rectangle, trimming the edges if necessary.
- Now make a letter fold by folding up the bottom edge of the rectangle to the middle. Then fold over the top of the rectangle to cover. It is just like you are folding letter to place in an envelope. If it still seems confusing check out the pictures
- Now rotate the rectangle 90 degrees and fold in half to make a square.
- Roll out again into a 12×6 rectangle and repeat the letter fold. Turn the pastry 90 degrees again and fold into a square.
- Last time roll out the dough into a 12X rectangle, letter fold, then fold into a square.
- Securely wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (perfect time to get your filling ready)
- Once its chilled again roll into a 12X6 rectangle. Place the rolled rectangle onto a piece of parchment paper.
- Using a pastry cutter cut the top corner off each side of the rectangle.
- On the bottom of the rectangle cut out two small triangles
- Spoon a generous layer of blueberry filling down the centre of the pastry.
- On each side of filling cut three strips one the left, and three on the right. About 3/4 ” thick.
- Fold the top left strip over to the right. Fold the top right strip over to the left.
- Repeat with the second strip on the left to right, then again right strip to the left
- Once you’ve used all three strips, cut three more strips on both the left and right of the filling.
- Repeat the criss crossing pattern until you get to the last three strips on each side.
- Fold up the bottom of the rectangle, then cross the left strip over to the right. Now cross the right strip to the left. Repeat with the second strip left to right, then right to left.
- You should now have a covered end to secure the filling, gently cut off the remaining strip of pastry on each side of the braid.
- Allow the braid to rest about 15-20 minutes, covered with a clean tea towel.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Once the oven is at temperature the braid should be properly rested.
- Make an egg wash using one egg and 2 tablespoons of milk. Generously brush the top of the danish braid with the egg wash.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 14 -16 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let the braid cool about 15 minutes. This is when I get my glaze ready.
- Now that it is cool drizzle the icing over the braid using a pipping bag, or spoon.
- Slice and serve
2 cups blueberries, washed and debris removed
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbsps. corn starch
pinch of salt
juice from half of one lemon
- Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the blueberries.
- Stirring occasionally cook the blueberries until they start to lose their liquid. This will take about 7, or so, minutes.
- While the blueberries are cooking place the sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a bowl and mix together.
- Once the blueberries have cooked add in the sugar mixture and use a spatula to stir until combined.
- Continue cooking over medium heat until it thickens up, this will take around 5 minutes. It will decrease in volume and longer be runny. It will have a thick consistency almost like making jam.
- Once its reduced remove from heat and add the juice from half a lemon. Stir to incorporate then pour into a bowl and cool in the fridge until ready to use. This stays good about two weeks in the fridge. It can also be frozen.
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tablespoons heavy cream (more if necessary for desired consistency)
- Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined.
- It should be a thick icing like consistency, yet still easily piped. If its too thin add more icing sugar, or more than likely its too dry then add a little more cream a tablespoon at a time.
Once you have desired consistency either drizzle from a spoon, or fill a piping, and criss-cross the glaze over the danish braid.
If you made it all the way to this point, good for you I am impressed. I would love to see a picture, or two, of your effort. If you went to all this trouble you really should show it off.