Monday, November 21, 2011

Danish Pastry Braid

I have never made pastry. When I was assigned Gitte's blog, My Danish Kitchen for this month's Secret Recipe Club I saw Danish pastry and there was no turning back.

Danish Pastry, also called Wienerbrød, is one of many Danish recipes on Gitte's blog. Gitte is from Denmark but has made a home in the United States with her husband and son. She writes that she experienced challenges cooking in a foreign country with unfamiliar ingredients over the years. She has tapped into her family back home to help her learn to cook. She has a lovely blog filled with an array of recipes both Danish and American inspired.  I'm totally intrigued by Danish treats and see some others on Gitte's site I need to make, like Danish Træstammer, like a marzipan covered cake truffle or Danish Hindbærsnitter, Danish cookies filled with raspberry preserves.  Yum!  Pop over to My Danish Kitchen and check out the great recipes. 

Making pastry takes planning and patience, two things I could be a lot better at. So I knew I wanted to give this a go.

The first order of business was to purchase cardamom. My local chain grocery store had it....for $11.79 for a 1.25 ounce bottle! I didn't really want to invest that much money for a spice I wasn't sure I would use again. So I went to a nearby Persian grocery store where I knew they would have an array of spices. I was able to get 0.75 ounce for $1.99.  Now that's what I'm talking about!  Cardamom has a spicy fragrence that reminds of spices similar to allspice and cloves.  I was worried it might be overpowering, but the cardamom flavor was extremely mild in the finished product. 

The dough needs resting time so plan  to make it the night before you want to have it for breakfast.  And then get up (really early) to roll and fold the dough (3 times), chill it again for 30 minutes and then roll it one last time, fill it, braid it, glaze and top it, bake it, ice it and finally cut and serve it.  Phew...I'm out of breath!  It's really not that bad.  Each step is pretty straightforward.  I would plan to allow at least 90 minutes of prep and cook time the morning you want to make this.  I didn't get up as early as I wanted to, but the Danish pastry was done technically done in the (late) morning hours.

A few notes.  I accidentally omitted the sugar in the dough.  I didn't even notice until I was typing up Gitte's recipe.  Whoops.  It still turned out great despite this omission.  There is plenty of sweetness from the filling and icing to make up for it.  Speaking of filling I used ollalieberry preserves that I had on hand in place of raspberry preserves.  Use your favorite preserves.  I had a little trouble braiding the pastry.  First off, I rolled it out too long (about 18 inches instead of 12).  I had too many strips to braid so I ended up cutting about 6 of them off.  This error wasn't noticeable in the finished product either. My braid baked for 15 minutes exactly and could have used 2 more minutes in the oven. 

Check out the big pieces of butter in the dough...this was the first of three times rolling and folding the dough

This is after 3 times of rolling and folding the goes back into the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes

Ready for braiding

The braid gets glazed with egg wash and topped with pearl sugar and sliced almonds

Fresh out of the oven

The result? Despite things not coming together perfectly, it was still a delicious, flaky fruit filled pastry. This beautiful pastry would be great for a special breakfast or for brunch. The recipe makes two 12 inch braids. I made one and froze the dough for the second one. So another Danish pastry is in my future.  I'm already thinking about filling it with apple pie filling.  Mmmmm.


Danish Pastry Braid {Wiernerbrød)
from My Danish Kitchen

Makes two 12 inch pastry braids

Pastry Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

Seedless raspberry preserves

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
Pearl sugar, for topping
Slice almonds, optional, for topping

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons warm milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Place flour in the bowl of (an 11 cup) food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cut butter into 1/4 slices and add to flour. Pulse until the butter is the size of kidney beans.

Dissolve yeast and warm water in a large blow. Let stand for 5 minutes and stir yeast until smooth. Add in cream, cardamom, salt, eggs and sugar and stir until combined. Turn the butter flour mixture into the liquid mixture and use a rubber spatula to carefully mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Dough will have large pieces of butter and may look slightly crumbly. Cover dough and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or up to 4 days.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the dough and your rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough to make a 16 to 20 inch rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds longwise, rotate dough 1/4 turn and fold into thirds again, make a small rectangle. Turn the dough over. Repeat the rolling and folding 2 more times (making it a total of rolling and folding 3 times). You will end with a small rectangle of dough. Wrap dough and chill for 30 minutes to overnight. (I chilled for an hour)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the chilled dough into two parts. Roll each half into a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. If you are not making both braids at the same time, wrap the second half of dough and place in the refrigerator until ready to roll. Dough can also be frozen and unthawed in the refrigerator overnight.

Spread the filling down the length of the center 1/3 of each rectangle. Cut slanting (45 degree angle) 3/4 inch strips along both sides such that there are equal number of strips on each side. Carefully transfer the braids to the baking sheets and let dough rise for 15-30 minutes until it appears slightly puffy (it not double in size). Lightly beat the egg and water for the glaze. Once the dough has risen, brush the pastry with the glaze and sprinkle with pearl sugar and/or sliced almonds.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Make icing by mixing powdered sugar, milk and almond extract until silky smooth. Drizzle icing on the top and let set. Cut crosswise into 2 inch slices.


  1. Oh my! This is a work of art. Your photos are fabulous, and the braided pastry is beautiful. Yummy too, to be sure! Great SRC pick.

  2. This looks incredible! I love that you made the pastry instead of using frozen puff pastry. This was an ambitious recipe for the SRC but I'm so glad you chose it. The next day I have some extra free time (ha!), I'm so making this!

  3. Oh my goodness, that braid looks wonderful, just like it came from the fanciest bakery. I've never made puff pastry from scratch before and it looks like it is worth the effort. Great SRC recipe choice!

  4. What a great blog you got for SRC. Danish pastry braid, you picked a wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This looks absolutely beautiful!!!

  6. Wow, I am impressed! Pastry does take time and patience. I wouldn't mind having it for lunch!
    Your braid is beautiful. Isn't it fun to have yummy food in the freezer. I have a few unbaked pumpkin scones that will be breakfast soon.
    Great SRC post.

  7. Oh wow, Gloria, your braid is gorgeous! I've wanted to make one for ages, but I know I wouldn't have any self control around it so I've held off :)

  8. You have never made pastry before??? This is outstanding! What an absolutely picture perfect danish! Your photos are beautiful and I can only imagine how good this was! Great job!

  9. You did an excellent job on the Wienerbrød, it looks so good makes me wanna run in the kitchen and bake some right now :) And I am glad you didn't pay $11 for the Cardamom, that's way too expensive.

  10. Yummm...this will go on my weekend baking list right now! Happy new follower :-)

    Ps. I host a Pin'Inspiration Party on Thursdays, hope that you can join in on the fun this week.

  11. It is SO beautiful! I've made a pastry braid before...but I used canned crescent rolls so I can't really count it! haha! It was good, but this look outstanding. I'm saving this and hope to make it for a special breakfast. Maybe not Christmas morning since my schedule is weird this year, but maybe next year.

  12. This pastry looks amazing! You chose a great recipe for the Secret Recipe club. Here is what I cooked up from group C: :)

  13. Oh my gosh!! That looks absolutely amazing - your braid looks perfect. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe - I can't wait to give it a try (this will also be a great way for me to use up some of the cardamom i bought for a recipe I made a while ago!!)! :)

  14. oh my goodness! This looks beautiful! Can't wait to try it!

  15. Dang Gloria, I am impressed! I love danish and have been wanting to make my own for a while but the time and effort makes me think twice. I have a family brunch coming soon so these might be a good entry for me, could the dough be used in a different shape or does it have to be a braid?
    Great post and awesome pics as usual.

  16. @Gerry - This would be great for a brunch. I think you could get creative with the dough and lay it in whatever pattern works for you. I think it's nice to have the fruit filling peeking through. I will say this isn't technically a braid (which normally has three pieces interlacing). Don't get too caught up in what the pattern looks like...once you put on the almond slivers, pearl sugar and then drizzle with the icing and cut it in slices, any sense of a pattern goes out the window.

    Stay tuned this week...I made the second half of my dough into danish for Thanksgiving morning with an apple pie like filling. It was a big hit with my family. I have just been slacking and haven't had a chance to post it yet.

    Have fun with your brunch!

  17. That is just simply a pure labor of love! Great great meeting you last night (:

  18. Wow! How beautiful!! Very impressive and professional looking!

  19. Such a beautiful, beautiful job you did making your first pastry dough...just gorgeous! You have given me the courage to do the same!

    ~avril (from SRC Group D)

  20. Wow, this looks beautiful! It is so much work, but it's delicious.

  21. do you know how to alter the recipe if i want to substitute the jam with say, chocolate! was planning to make normal chocolate danishes but your braid pastry is so gorgeous i must make them this week! :)

    1. This would be delicious with chocolate! Great idea. I think the easiest way would be simply replace the jam with Nutella. Or you could sprinkle chocolate chips or chunks down the center. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. :)

  22. Hi i just did the dough and over pulsed my flour/butter mixture (because i did it by hand) and i think my butter is a little too much but only by a little. And i ended up with a really wet dough ):
    I chilled it for 10 hours, and i just finished rolling the really wet mixture with much difficulty. and chilling it now.
    Is it ruined, or will the end product just be not as flaky, or do i try to salvage it by adding lots more flour?

    PS i halved the recipe and followed it to a T except for slightly overdosing the butter by say 20g at most?

    Hope you could reply soon! Thanks so much :)

    1. I would suggest using a generous amount of flour when you roll it out and fold it (a total of three times) to counter balance the wetness in the dough. Best of luck!

    2. Hi Anon,

      I too got a really wet dough mixture, but as Gloria suggested I just added a crapload of flour and it all came together well.

      Thanks for the fab recipe Gloria! It worked a treat. I still have half the dough left, so I may try a custard filling soon.