There is nothing like these freshly baked cheese danish pastries topped with fresh berries for breakfast or any other time of the day.
I don't bake danish pastries often, I would say I do it quite infrequently. Every time I have the motivation to make laminated croissant dough from scratch I go for making croissants. This time around I had a good selection of fresh fruit and berries in the kitchen and I could not resist the temptation to use them with my croissant dough. To hold the berries on top of danish pastries I used my tried-and-true cream cheese filling.
The difference between croissant dough that uses leaven and the one that doesn't is subtle, but noticeable for a discerning palate. Leaven makes the dough more flavorful, adding a slight hint of buttermilk. I find that breads and pastries that use natural leavening last longer, too, and don't go stale as quickly.
The closest you can get to leavened dough is to use poolish. Let the poolish mature overnight in a fridge and it will develop a lot of flavor that will resemble sourdough.
These cheese danish pastries are delicious on their own but if you top them with fruit or berries they will taste even better. My family likes blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and peach. My personal favorites are blueberry and blackberry though as they add the necessary tartness that balances out the sweetness of cream cheese filling.
For softer, more buttery danish pastries, bake them for 25 minutes. If you are looking for crispier crust and more eye-catching colors, leave them in the oven for 30 minutes. They will still be soft and flaky inside, but the outside will be more crispy, with richer golden brown colors.
- 225 g milk whole or 2%
- 300 g poolish see notes
- 500 g bread flour
- 14 g salt
- 42 g sugar
- 5 g active dry yeast
- 200 g unsalted butter cold
- 1/4 cup flour
For the egg wash
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp heavy cream or milk
For the cream cheese filling
- 240 g cream cheese room temperature
- 62 g powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp milk whole or 2%
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Have your poolish ready beforehand. Bring milk to room temperature or microwave for about 40 seconds. In a large bowl, stir poolish and milk together. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Cover with saran wrap and let sit at room temperature for about half an hour.
- Knead the dough in the bowl for 20 seconds, cover and let ferment at room temperature for 1.5 hours, doing stretch and folds every half an hour. Stretch and fold technique is where you take a corner of dough, stretch it and then fold onto itself. Repeat once for each of the four corners.
- Lightly dust the dough with flour, transfer into a plastic bag, flatten into a rectangle, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Mold the butter and 1/4 cup of flour into a 6 x 10 inch rectangle. Do it quickly to avoid letting the butter warm up. I use a pre-shaped envelope made from parchment paper for this task. I cut butter into small cubes, mix with flour, and place into the parchment paper envelope. Then, using a rolling pin, I pound, press and roll it to mold it into a rectangle. Put in the fridge.
- Take out the dough from the fridge and roll out into a 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
- Take out the butter from the fridge and lay it horizontally on the dough. It should cover about ⅔ of the length of the dough.
- Fold the left and the right side of the dough as you would fold a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle measuring about 8 x 12 inches. Do the fold again, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, roll out to a 8 x 12 inch rectangle and fold. This is the second turn.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour and do a third turn. If you want to use the dough later, place it into a freezer proof bag and freeze for up to three days. The night before using the dough, transfer it into refrigerator.
- After the third turn, if using immediately, let the dough relax in the fridge for half an hour, then take out and roll out to about 10 x 18 inch rectangle. The dough should be about ½ inch thick.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal size squares. Transfer the squares onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Prepare cream cheese filling. Place cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract into a medium size bowl. Using a hand mixer mix all the ingredients until the filling is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Put about a tablespoon of cream cheese filling on top of each square and spread a little into a circle about half size the square. Put berries on top and gently press to set them into filling. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Prepare egg wash by whisking briskly egg yolks and cream or milk. Brush the tops of croissant with the egg wash.
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes , until the danishes are deep golden brown, crisp and flaky.
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- 150 g water (warm room temperature)
- 3 g active dry yeast