Aliza Green

Chef | Consultant | Author

First Christian Church

Danish Pastry Braid with Goat Cheese & Cardamom

Danish Pastry Braid

Yield: About 2 pounds dough, enough for 2 large Danish; about 1 pound filling, enough for 1 large Danish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package (21/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 pound (3 cups minus 3 tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Grated zest of 1 orange (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits and softened
  • 6 ounces (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • Filling and Assembly
  • 1/2 pound mild goat cheese, substitute farmer cheese or dry-curd cottage cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for the egg wash
  • Crystallized or raw sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Make the dough: In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, yeast, and sugar and allow the mixture to proof until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, white whole wheat flour, salt, and cardamom. Add the yeast mixture, orange zest, vanilla, egg, and egg yolks, and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Gradually add 1/4 pound (1 stick) of the butter and continue beating until the dough is smooth again. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning so all the dough is coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Punch the dough down, cover tightly, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Place the chilled butter on a work surface and lightly dust with flour. Using a rolling pin, beat the butter until it is malleable and about the same consistency as the dough. Keep it in a rough block shape.

Roll out the chilled dough into a large square, forming a double-thick section in the center about the same size as the butter block. Place the butter block in the middle. Fold the edges of the dough over the butter so as to totally enclose it. Using the rolling pin, beat the dough package in parallel lines 4 or 5 times to spread out the butter evenly, then turn crosswise and beat again crosswise. This will seal the butter inside the dough package.

Turn the package upside down and roll it out into a large rectangle. Fold both edges in toward the center, then fold in half, making a rectangular shape. Cover the dough and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer, until firm but not brittle. Roll out again and repeat the rolling and folding. Chill and repeat twice more, for a total of 4 times. This will make a many-layered dough, similar to puff pastry. (Note: If the dough ends up in a long narrow shape, cut it in half crosswise and place one section over the other to make a squarish rectangle, then roll it out lightly to flatten slightly before chilling and rolling out again.) You will need 1 pound of dough to make one large braided Danish pastry. Wrap the remaining pastry and freeze up to 3 months, defrosting overnight in the refrigerator.

Make the filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, and sugar until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, cardamom, lemon zest, vanilla, and butter, and beat again until smooth, scraping down the sides several times. Add the flour, beating only long enough to blend. (The filling may be refrigerated up to 2 days before using.)

Assemble the pastry: Roll out 1 pound of the dough into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper, and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes, until the dough is firm but not hard. Cut off the edges to make clean straight edges all around that will rise well.

Spoon about 11/2 cups of filling down the center of the dough rectangle into a layer about 4 inches wide, leaving a 1-inch border at either end. (Use any extra filling for individual bear claw or pinwheel pastries or to fill crepes, sautéing the filled crepes in butter till brown. See directions below.) Cut the edges on either side of the filling in a V-shape into strips about 3/4-inch wide and about 4 inches long. Fold the top edge over pressing firmly to seal the ends. Alternate folding the strips of dough from one side over the filling followed by a strip from the other side. Repeat until all the dough strips have been folded, yielding a long pastry with a top that appears as though it is woven. Fold the bottom edge over to seal the other end, pressing firmly to seal.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with the crystallized sugar. Drape the pastry with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise at warm room temperature for about 45 minutes or until nicely puffed.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the pastry for 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and well-puffed. Cool to room temperature before cutting into portions. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

(from Starting with Ingredients: Baking)