growing up, danishes were reserved for special occasions – in particular, christmas and easter morning breakfasts. these were never homemade danishes; they usually came in a big plastic container with bear claws and rugelach, but they were special nonetheless. i tried to recreate what i remember having as a kid, but it was surprisingly hard to track down a good recipe that didn’t start out with ready-made puff pastry. i finally found something that seemed to resemble what i was looking for in the Taste of Home Complete Guide to Baking, a gift from my mom.
this recipe has several parts to it, so i gave myself pretty much a whole day to tackle the danishes. it turned out to be especially challenging for me, mainly because it’s made with pastry dough, which is not something i often use. it was also my first time using shortening ever – i think i could have replaced it with cold butter, but i decided to stay faithful to the directions.
the danishes came out looking great (if i do say so myself), but the pastry was not nearly as flaky as i would have liked. i assembled these without a picture reference, basically wrapping lengths of dough into little birds-nest type holders for the cream cheese filling. you could probably replace the dough recipe below with puff pastry and just assemble these any way you think would look great, but it’s a great experience to work with a sweet yeast dough. to be honest, these didn’t quite live up to the store bought pastries i remember, but they came close.
adapted from the Taste of Home Complete Guide to Baking
1 package instant dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
3/4 cup shortening, divided
1 cup warm milk
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1. in a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. add the milk, 1/4 cup shortening, sugar, 2 eggs, salt, lemon peel, vanilla and 2 cups flour. beat until smooth. stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth an elastic. place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat. cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).
3. punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. roll into a 24×16 inch rectangle. dot half of the dough with 1/4 cup shortening; fold dough in half lengthwise. dot with shortening and fold lengthwise into thirds. dot with remaining shortening and fold widthwise into thirds.
4. roll dough into a 16×15 inch rectangle. cut into 8×3/4 inch strips, coil into spiral shapes, tucking end underneath the coil to form a bottom. place on a greased baking sheet and cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
5. in a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. beat remaining egg, make a depression in the center of each roll and brush with egg. fill each with the cheese filling.
6. bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. remove from pans to wire racks to cool. while baking, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla to form the glaze. drizzle over the danishes while they are still warm.