This Danish Braid recipe is a lovely study in contrasts, from soft, tender dough, to sweet crunchy topping, and a tart jam filling.
- 3 C (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. (42 grams) white sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. (9 grams) instant yeast
- 1 tsp. (2 grams) cardamom (optional)
- 1 tsp. (7 grams) salt
- 2 Tbsp. (18 grams) soft butter, unsalted
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) whole milk
- 1/3 cup (79 ml) water
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Butter Block
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. (253 grams) salted butter
- Flour for sprinkling
For the Filling & Topping:
- 4–6 Tbsp. jam, your flavor choice (see notes)
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
To Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, white sugar, yeast, salt (put it on the opposite side from the yeast), cardamom, and softened butter. Using the dough hook, mix until they are combined, then slowly pour in the milk, water, egg, and vanilla. Continue mixing on low until the dough is combined and cohesive, then turn the mixer up to medium and allow it to knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be soft, but should form a cohesive ball.
Oil your hands and a clean bowl, and shape the dough into a bowl then place it in the bowl. Cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it has double in size. Place the dough in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled.
To Make a Butter Block: Generously sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with flour, the place the butter on it. Sprinkle the top of the butter with more flour, then place another piece of parchment on top of it. Using a rolling pin, smash and roll the butter into a sheet until it measures 6”x12”. Return it to the refrigerator until it cold but still pliable. Do not keep in the refrigerator until it is completely hard, or it will shatter into chunks when you roll it into the dough.
To Laminate the Dough: On a generously floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 7”x18”. Cut the butter block in half, and place one half in the center of the dough. Fold one end over the butter, place the other half of the butter block on top of it, then fold the other third of the dough over the top of the butter. Pinch the edges of the dough to seal in the butter, then roll it out into a rectangle about 12”x8”. Fold it into thirds again, then wrap it in plastic wrap and place it back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill it all again, then repeat the folding and rolling three more times for a total of 4 folds. The dough is now read to be shaped, or can be kept in the refrigerator overnight at this point.
For the Crumb Topping:
Melt the butter down, then stir in the almond extract, sugar, and flour until it forms a smooth, slightly crumbly paste.
To Make the Braid:
Preheat the oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that’s 15″x9″. Score it lightly into three 3″ sections lengthwise, then cut the two outside sections into 1″ sections all the way down at about a 45 degree angle. Spread the jam in an even layer along the center section, then bring the sections across the top of it, alternating sides. Pinch along the ends to seal them and move it carefully to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in a clean plastic bag to rise for about 2 hours.
Once the braid has risen, brush the top of the dough with whole milk. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top, gently pressing it into the dough. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, then drizzle glaze across the top and cut into sections to serve.
- A tart jam makes a nice contrast to the sweetness of the topping and glaze, and I used Bonne Maman Four Fruit Preserves. But you can really choose any flavor you like!
- Pinch the ends of the braid quite well, and cross the strips as snugly as possible. It will rise in the heat of the oven, and if you don’t keep it fairly tight it will all open and explode while baking.
- Rise times vary depending on temperature and humidity, so go by how the dough looks and feels rather than a set time. The braid is ready for baking when it looks soft and puffy, and gently touching it leaves an imprint in the dough (it will rise again while baking).
- I like to use a milk wash instead of egg wash on my pastries. I find that egg can catch and darken faster than I would like for the “doneness” of the inside, but if you prefer egg that’s completely fine.
- Category: Breads and Pastries
- Method: Lamination, Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Danish Braid, Crumb Topping,