Real Cheese Danish with Easy Danish Dough

                                                Photo: Marcy Goldman

An Original Recipe by  Marcy Goldman, BetterBaking.Com

Isn't Rosh Hashanah the time to make something special? Come on. Go for it! This really makes any sort of Danish you want. It is a superlative (and easy) real, butter, real Danish Dough – the sort delis and bakeries used to make. As family bakeries bit the dust and/or bakers started scrimping and the buttery (and best) part of Danish began to disappear, the need to make it yourself became clear. This is so outstanding. Why? It tastes like the real McCoy(stein), the dough is supple and a pleasure to work with, the taste is incomparable; the fine delicate/bready pastry is addictive.  You can fill this with the sweetened cheese filling called for here or make it with chocolate or cinnamon smear, or prune or apricot filling. (Recipes for the Chocolate or Cinnamon Smear Danish are in the Complete Recipe Archives; prune or apricot fillings also in the archives or you can opt for a quality prepared filling). Aside from this amazing dough, real bakery style Danish calls for a brushing or two of syrup (it’s included in this recipe) as well as (but this part is optional), apricot glaze. This makes the not-too-sweet pastry just a touch sweeter but also keeps it fresher longer and offers that stickiness you are going to have to lick off your hands once the Danish is a memory. I make batches of this dough and freeze it – which you can do or freeze the whole pastry (a large one or smaller ones) and let it rise in the fridge and bake it fresh for a brunch, breakfast or coffee klatch the next day. If you wonder if real Danish is hard to do, don't. It's easy. If you wonder why do it? Because...where are you going to find real Danish, with real butter, anywhere, anymore. Baker's cheese is also called hoop cheese, dry cottage cheese, old-fashioned cottage cheese. If you cannot find it, use ricotta cheese well drained (overnight, cheesecloth/strainer deal).


1/2  cup warm water
4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sour cream
5-7 cups all-purpose flour

Butter Roll In
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, in 1/4 pats or squares

Cheese Filling
3/4 pound baker’s cheese
4 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
Tiniest pinch salt
1 egg
2 yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
1/2 cup apricot jam

Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Apricot jam, optional
Egg wash (1 egg, whisked)

1 cup confections’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Water, as required


Stack two large baking sheets together and line top one with parchment paper. 

For the dough, in a large mixer bowl, hand whisk the water and yeast together and let stand 3 minutes. Quickly whisk in the milk, vanilla, lemon juice, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, egg yolks, sour cream and most of the flour. Mix and then knead on slowest speed of mixer (or by hand) on slowest speed, gently to make a soft dough. Do not rigorously knead; just make the dough come together and get smooth. Remove dough hook, spray dough with nonstick cooking spray and cover entire bowl/machine with a large plastic bag. Let stand 30 minutes and then gently deflate on a well-floured work surface. Have butter prepared nearby, in pats – ready to use.

For the Cheese Filling, in a food processor, blend the baker’s cheese, cream cheese, flour, sugar and salt and blend slightly. Then add in the egg, yolks, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and juice and blend to make a thick filling or paste. Refrigerate until needed.   To make the Simple Syrup, simmer sugar and water for 10 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved. Cover if using within the day or put it in a jar and seal in the refrigerator. 

To roll the dough with the butter, roll the dough, deflating it if is has risen somewhat, stopping each time the dough resists. Let it rest for 1-3 minutes at a time and roll ultimately, to a 16 by 14 inch rectangle. 

Place the butter all over the dough surface in snug rows and press butter down slightly to stick (somewhat). Fold the left part of the dough to the center as if it was a letter you were folding. Fold over the right side (the remaining third). Press with a rolling pin and then turn dough so the open seams are now outwards (facing horizontally) and roll gently but firmly to make the dough a rectangle of about 16 by 14 again. If it is smaller, it is fine.

Again, taking left hand side of dough, fold into center and then take right hand side and fold on top of this – again, to have a ‘letter’ folded in thirds. Wrap well in plastic and chill 45-60 minutes. Repeat the folding twice more with a 45 minute rest in-between folding. None of this has to be perfect; you will still have great Danish. It is important however not to flour the board too much lest you have heavy Danish. Chill 1 hour or more (overnight is fine) and then deflate a bit with rolling pin.

To make the Danish, roll out on a floured surface to a 15 inch square (again a few inches here or there is fine). Transfer to the baking sheet.

Smear on some apricot jam if using, and then smear on the cheese filling to within ½ inch of borders. Fold the top side in towards the center. Brush this with egg wash. Then fold the bottom side upwards and overlap onto the egg-washed part. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife, make diagonal snips (like a series of gills) on each side. Brush whole pastry with egg wash and dust with sugar (if desired).

Cover gently and let rise 30-60 minutes until a bit puffy but not a lot. 
This is also where you can make a flour-butter streusel and top pastry with this if you like (but then don’t use the syrup or apricot jam finale later)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until well browned, about 35-45 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and brush several times with the Simple Syrup. Afterwards, you can also brush the not-quite-cooled pastry with apricot jam.

For a fondant finish, mix fondant ingredients in a small bowl and then drizzle over top of cooled pastry.


Yield:  Makes one large pastry.

Alternatively, divide dough in two and make a different filling (and shape, or individual pastries) for the second half. Or, freeze the second half of the dough, wrapped well. To use, defrost in the fridge overnight, then roll and fill as per directives for fresh dough.

Recipes: Bread, Sweet Yeast Dough, Danish, Cheese, Dairy, Kosher

© This is a Marcy Goldman/ original recipe
This recipe is for sole, personal use of visitors of BetterBaking.Com Online Magazine. Marcy Goldman/ recipes are for your enjoyment but not to be posted or reprinted without express permission of the author/baker. Thank you kindly for respecting my copyright and happy baking. BetterBaking.Com, established 1997.

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