This feels good.
This writing, posting, trying thing. It feels good. Right. I’m in the zone, wrapped up in the flow. It’s a combination of therapy, personal growth books, trusting my gut, and ignoring my fear. It’s also a touch of CBD oil for the nerves and a good cry when necessary.
But I’m doing it all for this. Right here.
This perfectly flaky, ridiculously crispy, and delightfully easy Braided Apple Danish.
I’ve been puttering around in the kitchen with Danish for a few weeks (months?) now. This recipe is inspired by my love of Great British Bake Off and my determination to avoid using a yeasted recipe or any method that was too complicated. My friend, Elise, and I were just having a conversation about how we were going to willingly give up baking projects, shed the tasks that don’t serve us. Be it sourdough starter or perfect macarons. For her and for me, and for many of you, I’m sure, baking is meant to be an activity that relieves stress and eases tension. I’ve accepted the fact that complicated pastry technique has the exact opposite outcome for me.
And y’know what? That’s totally ok! I still love and appreciate those wares. And will gladly eat them. But idk that it’s something I want to put my effort and energy into anymore/at the moment. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I was an early morning croissant shaper and the head of a pastry program. I’m good.
This Danish is better. So much better than my previous attempts and so right on the money that Seth actually teared up when he ate a slice! Now, the process really isn’t complicated or too time intensive, but it does still require a little bit of planning to execute well. I’ve discovered that making the components the day before and letting them get a good night’s sleep in the fridge leads to the best results. Plus, if you’re anything like me and are hungry the moment you wake up, the less time spent prepping in the AM the better!
Perfect layers of rich, buttery dough are wrapped around a well-spiced (and lightly boozy!) apple filling in this delicious Braided Apple Danish. Decidedly decadent, but oh so worth it, this recipe is perfect for both cold winter weekends or a dinner's dessert course!
Braided Apple Danish
- Prep Time: 30 minutes + chilling
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 75 minutes + chilling
- Yields: 16 servings
For the rough puff:
- 2 1/3 cups + 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, shredded and frozen, divided*
- 1 TBSP sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 TBSP ice water
- 4 TBSP cold whole milk
For the apple filling:
- 1 ½ pounds apples, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 TBSP corn starch
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. apple pie spice
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 TBSP orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
Directions: For the rough puff: In a small bowl, toss together ½ cup (1 stick) of the butter with the 1 TBSP flour and set aside (preferably back in the freezer). In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in remaining 1 cup shredded butter. Add water and milk, working gently to combine until a crumbly dough forms. Knead together into a small disk, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. After the dough has rested, on a lightly floured surface roll disk out into a 12x9inch rectangle, with the long end running horizontally to your workspace. In the center of the rectangle, place 1/3 of the reserved butter mixture and fold over either end of the dough (like folding a letter!). Rotate the rectangle 90 degrees so that the long end is once again running horizontally along your work surface. Roll dough out into another 12x9inch rectangle (Congrats! You’ve just completed what is typically called the “first turn”). Place another 1/3 of the reserved butter into the center and repeat the folding, turning 90 degrees, and rolling out process. Repeat a third time for a total of “three turns.” When that is complete, fold the dough once more like a letter but do not reroll or press or work the dough anymore. Simply wrap the folded dough in plastic wrap again and let rest for at least two hours, preferably overnight. While the dough is resting, make the apple filling. For the apple filling: In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients before placing in a large skillet and cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples and juices are reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place in fridge for at least two hours, preferably overnight, to cool. For the Danish: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the rough puff dough from the fridge and let warm up at room temperature for about 10 minutes, so it is easily workable, but still quite chilled. On a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, place folded dough in center so that the long end of the rectangle is running horizontally to you (just like with the folding). Without unfolding the dough, roll out into a 16x11.5inch rectangle, or a large rectangle that is 1/4 inch in thickness, trimming any wonky edges as necessary. Working 3.5 inches from each long edge, cut diagonal strips going down the entire length of the dough. These will become the strips for our braid! Place dough back in fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes. After chilling, spread apple filling in a thin layer down the center of the dough before folding alternating strips down the length of the Danish to create a braided pattern. Pinch each end closed and brush away any excess flour. Whisk together 1 egg + 1 TBSP water to create an egg wash and lightly brush surface of Danish with it. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until deeply golden and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving warm with a cup of really good coffee.
*I can never manage to shred butter that is already frozen so I will take sticks straight from the fridge, run them along a grater, and pop in the freezer for about an hour, or overnight.
*Here is a helpful guide for braiding the Danish!
*Rough Puff recipe and technique adapted from and inspired by Bon Appetit!