This apple cream cheese Danish braid is probably one of the most popular items ever on the breakfast menu at my bakery. It was part of our daily offerings and was requested by customers for every holiday. Not technically a danish (the dough is croissant dough), the flaky layers of pastry and cinnamon scented filling are sure to be a hit at your house!
by volume by weight
1 cup soft cream cheese 227 grams soft cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar 37 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla 4 grams vanilla
2 apples, thinly sliced 350 grams apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar 50 grams brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter 28 grams butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon 6 grams cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 2 grams nutmeg
1 egg yolk 18 grams egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream 28 grams heavy cream
Peel the apples and cut the fruit off the core in 4 pieces. (No apple corer necessary!)
Slice the pieces thinly.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the apple slices. When the apples are partially cooked sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the apples.
Continue to cook until the apples are fork tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
While you wait for the apples to cool, mix the soft cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Roll the croissant dough out to a rectangle approximately 12″ by 18″. Be sure to roll cold dough and be careful not to press down so hard that you destroy the butter/dough structure. (Check out the post on croissants to read more.)
Transfer the rolled dough to a piece of parchment paper to make the finished braid easier to move.
Cut the dough on the outer 1/3 of either side of the rectangle into 1″ strips. This creates a space for the filling.
Spread cream cheese mixture down middle third of the pastry.
Place cooled apples on top of the cream cheese.
Fold the cut strips of dough alternately over the filling and angling them down to give a braid like effect.
Mix the egg yolk with the heavy cream and egg wash the finished pastry.
Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes and dust with powdered sugar if desired while warm.
Let cool for another 10 minutes and cut on the diagonal into pieces. ( There will be small trim pieces on the ends also known as cook’s quality control samples!)
This Danish lends itself to a variety of fillings and toppings. Raspberries with cream cheese is a excellent choice. In addition, it isn’t necessary to cook the fruit before assembly. Simply place the berries on top of the cream cheese and braid. (Fresh berries work much better than frozen because the frozen berries will give off too much liquid.) Peaches, apricots, pears and plums work well and frangipan is a great substitute for the cream cheese filling. After egg washing, sprinkle the top of the Danish with sliced almonds or chopped pistachios to add extra crunch or drizzle with chocolate or lemon glaze after baking. Pick your favorite flavors and experiment!