Welcome fall with the flavors of pears and figs which combine deliciously in this gorgeous braided Danish. Ginger, autumn spices and a tangy cream cheese base are also stars of this incredible breakfast treat.
You’ll find the process of making your own dough an inspirational challenge, and just one peek at the completed braid will have you in awe of your own abilities. Indulge!
Using the flat beater and dough hook on the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer saves time and results in a perfectly kneaded and uniform danish dough.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle, cutting half inch slits at an angle along each side.
Place your filling lengthwise down the center of the rolled out dough, careful not to overfill.
A close up view of the folded dough, showing the layers that were created during the four folds.
Criss cross the tabs of the dough, covering the filling in a braid pattern. Tuck in and trim any excess pieces.
The Steam-Assist feature on the KitchenAid® 48-Inch Range with Steam-Assist Oven, Commercial-Style is an incredible feature which adds the ability to create a crunchier outer crust and softer bread inside. It works like a charm in this Danish recipe, but is also perfect for fussier breads such as baguettes that really benefit from the harder crust.
The Danish is indeed a challenging recipe, though the most challenging portion is the braiding. It takes a little practice and a bit of patience, but the results are stunning and a true crowd pleaser. Worry not, though – even if your braid looks a little less than desirable, it is 100% delicious!
Fresh Pear and Fig Danish Braid
For the pastry dough
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup apple cider
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the cream cheese filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For assembling the danish
1 recipe Prepared Pastry Dough
1 recipe Prepared Cream Cheese Filling
5 ripe figs
4 ripe pears
1 egg white
To make the dough
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer fit with the flat beater attachment and mix on low speed. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Slowly add sugar, spices, vanilla extract, eggs, and apple cider. Mix well.
Change from the flat beater attachment 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. If dough is sticky, add a bit more flour. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to one hour.
To make the butter block
Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer fit with a flat beater attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the flat beater and continue to beat for 1 minute more, or until very smooth. Set aside. Do not refrigerate.
After the pastry dough has chilled at least 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 14 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter block evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the dough 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 choose another way to keep track of your turns. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After chilling, 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 14 x 18 inch, 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for another 30 minutes.
Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The 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.
To make the cream cheese filling
In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, once again beating until smooth. Set aside until ready for use.
To prepare the Danish
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-inch rectangle, ¼ inch 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.
Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
Spoon the filling down the center of the rectangle, then top with pears and figs. 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 the egg white in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90-100 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
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. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, 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 freeze for 1 month.
Tips & Tricks
Though it is tempting, do not overfill the center of your braid. The weight of each cross piece of dough will cause some of that filling to escape as you braid, so it is best to play it safe.
For an extra crunch, sprinkle on large sugar crystals the egg wash before baking. It adds a nice shimmer and bite to your braid.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*