Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cheese Danish

I've been under a bit of a food curse lately...I haven't made anything I'm really that proud of over this break. I've also made a few things that were downright inedible. My first batch of whoopie pies were both burnt and flavorless, my challah got charred, my macarons were undercooked...frustration. Making something fantastic has become kind of a necessity, even if only to boost my ego.

Not sure what spurred it, but my mom suggested I make danishes last night. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to break my curse. I'm getting less afraid of making laminated dough like this, ever since making croissants in the summer. The first time I tried to make puff pastry was kind of a mess, but that's another story. 

Oh my goodness they are so delicious. I think something may have gone slightly wrong in the process, since they were oozing butter in the oven, but they still turned out with tons of flaky, beautiful layers. My brother said they tasted like toaster strudels, which I think is a good thing, coming from him. I'll try and give directions the best I can here, but it is a long, multistep process. I'm going to heavily rely on Joe Pastry's tutorials for guidance. Let me know if I can clear anything up for you guys. 

Cheese Danish
from Joe Pastry

Dough (feel free to double, triple, whatever the recipe, cause this is a lot of work and you might want some in the freezer for another time)

For the dough:
5.5 ounces (2/3 cup) milk
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) instant yeast
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose (AP) flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg

For the butter slab:
8 ounces butter
2 tablespoons flour

Combine all the dough ingredients (not the butter slab!) in a mixer and, using the dough hook, mix about five minutes until the dough is smooth and uniform (it will be somewhat sticky…this is what you want). Turn it out into a dough rising container and let it ferment for half an hour at room temperature, then put it in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight. 

While that is hanging out, you can make your butter block. Put your butter on a double layered piece of plastic wrap, and sprinkle the flour on top of the butter. Cover with another double layer of plastic. Now, with a BIG rolling pin, beat the crap out of it. Seriously. Here is what Joe Pastry has to say:

"What you’re shooting for here is a butter consistency rather like play dough. Not too firm, since you want it to spread as you roll the dough out. But then not too soft either, since if the butter actually melts it’ll soak into the dough and ruin the layering effect. What you’re after is a plastic texture that isn’t at all greasy looking or feeling. If the butter starts to shine, it’s too warm. Put it back in the fridge for half an hour and start over with the tension release"
When it has reached the proper consistency, shape it into a square and set aside. 

Roll out your dough into a square slightly larger than your butter block. Position your butter block on top of the square at a 45 degree angle, so it looks like a diamond on the square. Like this  Bring the corners of the dough into the center as tight as possible, so the butter is covered. Close all the openings, using a little water if necessary. You should now have a square filled with butter! 

Time for more beating. Whack the dough across, making an X, then vertically across, turning it until the butter is evenly distributed inside. You want butter within a half inch of every edge. Now, roll out the dough until it is about 1/3 longer than it is wide. Now fold it like you fold a letter to fit into an envelope. Repeat the rolling and folding process two more times, letting the dough rest 20 minutes between each one. I might stick it in the fridge during this resting period. 

Okay! Finally ready to rock & roll. If you're not into cheese danishes (you monster! Just kidding. Sort of.) there are tons of other variations to try. And prettier shapes. But I'm gonna go with this one. 

Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients a bowl and beat until fluffy and uniform. 

As for the pastry portion, begin by rolling about three quarters of a pound of pastry dough into a rectangle about a quarter inch thick (exact dimensions are not important). Then simply cut it into squares with pizza cutter. I made 12. They were sort of big. Spoon about tablespoon of filling into the middle of the square, then fold in the the first two corners. Bring in the third corner and using your finger, dab a little bit of the cheese filling on it as a sealing compound. Fold in the last corner and you’re done! Brush with an egg wash.  Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how big they are.  Cook until golden brown. You're done!! 


  1. If it makes you feel any better, I made coconut macaroons for Christmas and I adapted the recipe from metric measurements, all I ended up with were green and red piles of goo! Yummy, but not pretty.... I adore a good cheese danish, these look delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Aw, thanks! An inexpensive kitchen scale is seriously an invaluable tool though, you should totally get one ^__^


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