Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Apple Cream Cheese Danish

Ever since trying the croissants last spring, I’ve been wanting to take a shot at making a Danish. It’s hard to even compare this homemade version to the one you purchase from a store. The dough is time consuming, but it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight before baking for breakfast. The spiced apples and cream cheese filling are delicious for fall, other fruits could easily be substituted for some variation. I think a cranberry-orange combination would be amazing on Christmas morning!

Apple Cream Cheese Danish

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the counter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast (or rapid rise yeast)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Butter Square

  • 12 tbl. cold unsalted butter, cut in 1 tbl. pieces
  • 1 tbl. all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbl. sugar

Apple Filling

  • 1 tbl. butter
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used Granny Smith)
  • 2 tbl. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg

Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 5 tsp. milk, plus additional if needed

Drizzle

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbl. milk, plus additional if needed
Directions
  1. Make the dough by combining 1 1/4 cups of flour in a small bowl with the yeast, sugar and salt. Whisk together then set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk and egg. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and knead until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 7-8 minutes. The dough should be sticky, but if more than half of the dough is sticking to the bowl of the mixer then add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tbl at a time, until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. To make the butter square, combine the butter and flour in a mixer and mix just until smooth and combined. Place the butter mixture in a plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form the butter into a 5 inch square. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, lay the dough on the work surface and roll into a 9-inch square. Unwrap the butter square and place the butter diagonally on top of the dough. Fold in the corners of the dough over the butter so they meet in the middle. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Tap the dough with a rolling pin from the center moving outwards until the butter begins to soften and become malleable. Roll the dough into an 11-inch square, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. Fold the outer thirds of the dough towards the middle with one overlapping the other, similar to folding a business letter. Repeat this the other direction to make a square (this completes two turn). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Roll the dough into an 11-inch square and repeat the process above, first folding like a business letter, then into a square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight)
  5. Make the cream cheese filling by mixing the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Prepare the apple filling by melting the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15-18 minutes. Set aside to cool before using.
  7. When you’re ready to bake the Danish, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Roll out the dough on a large piece of well floured parchment paper until it is a 14-inch square- be liberal with your use of flour, you can always dust the extra off but it’s very frustrating to have your dough stick! Spread the cream cheese filling down the center third of the dough, top with the apples.
  9. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut 3/4-inch strips diagonally along the outer thirds of the dough. Cross the strips over the dough, alternating sides to make a braided patter. Continue until the whole Danish is braided. Transfer the parchment paper and Danish to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until slightly puffy, about 30 minutes.
  10. Bake for 22-26 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Combine the glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth. Transfer the parchment paper and Danish to a cooling rack and brush with the glaze while the Danish is still hot. Then let sit and cool to room temperature. Combine the drizzle ingredients and drizzle over the Danish. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Source: Annie’s Eats
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