By far this was the sweetest food item that I’ve ever made, to date. Usually sweet is not a bad thing either with me or my husband. This time, however, it was a bad thing. This Danish was absolutely fantastic, except that it had way too much icing on top. Next time (I’ve reflected the change in the directions below to save some of you from several dentist trips), I will not do the glaze but just the drizzle and use only a half recipe at that. I guarantee it will taste a hundred times better that way. The way it was, we couldn’t even finish eating them and normally I love pastries. The filling though was the best part, by far, of this entire recipe. It tasted absolutely amazing! This is a recipe that is time consuming, but it’s so very much worth it in the end.
Apple Cream Cheese Danish
Adapted from: Annie’s Eats, originally Baking Illustrated
For the dough:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, extra for rolling
1 ½ tsp instant yeast
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
For the butter square:
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ tsp lemon zest, fine
2 Tbsp sugar
For the apple filling:
1 Tbsp butter
2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch grated nutmeg
For the drzzle:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk, plus more if needed
To make the dough, combine 1 ¼ cups of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Place the milk and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the dough hook. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and continue to knead until a smooth dough ball forms, about 8 minutes. Check to make sure the dough is sticky but doesn’t stick to the bowl. If needed, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the butter square, combine the flour and butter on a clean work surface. Mix together with a bench scraper (or similar tool) until uniform. Wrap the combined butter mixture loosely into plastic wrap and form into a 5-inch square. Place in the fridge until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Place the dough onto a well-floured work surface and roll into a 9-inch square. Remove the plastic wrap and place the butter square diagonally on top of the dough, with each of the four corners of the butter square pointing towards the corners of the dough. Fold all four corners of the dough into the middle and pinch together all the seams. Take a rolling pin and tap the dough horizontally from the center out to make the butter soft and more malleable. Gently roll the dough into an 11-inch square, re-flouring the surface as needed.
Fold the dough into thirds, vertically like a brochure or business letter. Repeat the folding but in the other direction so you end up with a square again. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll dough out into an 11-inch square and repeat the folding process and wrap and refrigerate. Keep in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.
To make the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well until blended together and smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
To make the apple filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Combine and add the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Cook until most liquid has evaporated and apples are tender, about 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool before using.
Roll the refrigerated dough into a 14-inch square on well-floured parchment paper. Spread the cream cheese filling down the middle third of the dough. Lay the apple mixture on top of the cream cheese filling. Using a pizza cutter, slice the outer thirds of the dough into ¾-inch strips diagonally downward. When looking at the dough, the strips should be pointing down and to the left and right sides. Then, carefully fold the strips, alternating sides, across the middle third of the Danish. This will make a braided pattern.
Transfer braid and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Bake 22-26 minutes, rotating halfway, until the braid is golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.
To make drizzle, combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time as needed to make it a drizzly consistency. Drizzle the Danish with the drizzle mixture, only using as much as you see fit. I think half would work perfectly.