Danish Braid

The June 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge is brought to us by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?

Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough
Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

To download the recipe in .pdf format, click HERE

Why Danish Braid?

Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered doughs with puff pastry being the ultimate. Danish dough is sweet and yeast-leavened, however, where as puff pastry is not.

The process of making Danish dough is less complex than that of puff pastry, but equally as important to achieve best results, and a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated doughs in general.

Danish dough is extremely versatile, and once made can be used for a variety of baked goods. The possibilities are endless.

Some History:

According to many sources, “Danish” was born when Danish bakers went on strike, and Viennese bakers were brought in to replace them, creating what is referred to as Vienna Bread.

Conversely, it is also said that Danish bakers went to Vienna to learn the techniques Viennese bakers employed, and Danish dough was created there.

In the early 1800’s, C.L. Olsen spent time in Germany, believing in the idea of gaining inspiration from bakers of other countries. He brought knowledge back to Denmark to introduce “foreign” breads to his country, also hiring people of other nationalities to bake in his family bakery.

Why Sherry Yard’s recipe?

The organization of recipes in the book is built upon the philosophy that if we learn basic techniques, many other recipes come from those techniques. This isn’t new information, but it’s the first time I’ve seen the information organized in such an accessible fashion.
Her Danish dough recipe included both cardamom and orange, and the combination sounded intriguing.


Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough

Detrempe – ball of dough

Beurrage – butter block

Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns. Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.

For Your Consideration:

Use well-chilled ingredients. This includes flour, if your kitchen temperature is above 70°F / 21°C.

It is recommended that long, continuous strokes be used to roll the dough rather than short, jerky strokes to make sure the butter block is evenly distributed.

The 30-minute rest/cooling period for the dough between turns is crucial to re-chill the butter and allow the gluten in the dough to relax.

Excess flour accumulated on the surface of the dough after turns should be brushed off as pockets of flour can interfere with the rise.

Yard calls for a “controlled 90°F / 32°C environment” for proofing the constructed braid. Please refer to this chart to assist you in this stage of the challenge:

Proofing Temperature

 photo proofing temps - danish_zpsezncrswt.jpg

When making cuts in the dough for the braid, make sure they are not too long and provide a solid base for the filling.

Additional Resources:

Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There are a variety of filling recipes that work quite well for Danish Braid.

Danish Pastry technique on YouTube. zXn_YpLI&feature=related Interesting general information on laminated dough (not specific to our recipe or Danish Braids). – Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs

Video cut for a Danish Pastry Braid by Beatrice Ojakangas who is the featured baker of the Danish Braid recipe in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Great information.[email protected]/2141409184/[email protected]/2414102571/

Yield: 2 large braids
Preparation time: approximately 3 hours for the dough
Chilling time: 5 hours to overnight
Proofing time: approximately 2 hours
Baking time: 30 minutes


1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk


1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20″ / 38 x 50cm rectangle, 1⁄4″ / almost 1cm thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5″ / 12cm cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1″ / 2 1/2cm apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash

Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking

1. Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90°F / 32°C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400°F / 205°C / Gas Mark 6. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Decrease the oven temperature to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4, and bake about 15 – 20 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen for 1 month.

Danish dough

Makes 2 1/2 pounds / 1.135kg dough


For the dough (Detrempe)

1 oz / 28g fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1⁄2 cup / 120ml whole milk
1/3 cup / 65g sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1⁄4 cup / 60ml fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups (spooned & scraped) / 410g / 14 1/3 oz all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)

1⁄2 pound / 2 sticks / 225g cold unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup / 30g / 1 oz all-purpose flour


Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.

Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.

Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Butter block

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13″ / 45 x 33cm and 1⁄4″ / almost 1cm thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.

Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.

Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed.

Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.

Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left.

Roll the dough into another approximately 18 x 13″ / 45 x 33cm and 1⁄4″ / almost 1cm thick rectangle.

Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.

Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.

The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Apple filling

Makes enough for two braids


4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1⁄4″ / approx. 1cm pieces
1⁄2 cup / 100g granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1⁄4 cup / 60ml fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons / 56g / 2 oz unsalted butter


Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.

Add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.

If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape.

Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.

If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.

After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

The Secrets of Baking
Sherry Yard