Buttery, tender, and flaky after baking, this Danish pastry is the most delicious pastry dough recipe you can get your hands on to make sweet and savory baked goods. With simple ingredients and no special equipment, it’s easy to make at home.
Danish pastry vs puff pastry vs croissant pastry
To make each of these pastry doughs, you will need to enclose butter in a rough dough and then do a series of folds to create flaky layers. However, there are some differences between them.
The puff pastry has the most amount of layers in it. After you finish folding it, it will contain 1028 layers of dough and butter. Also, puff pastry has the least amount of ingredients. You can make it just with flour, water, salt, and butter. It has no yeast in it and you can freeze it in one thick block. Puff pastry is not enriched with eggs.
Croissant dough is very similar to Danish pastry because it is also a yeast pastry and can contain either milk or a mix of milk and water. Usually, it contains no eggs and is folded, so a classic croissant will have 55 layers of dough and butter. However, different bakeries experiment with the number of layers and the dough can be folded to get more of them.
Danish pastry is the richest of all doughs because it contains eggs. You can make croissants with it, too, and the number of layers will vary on the recipe. With my recipe, you will get a total of 73 layers.
Why you should try this recipe
It’s utterly delicious. There’s no question that store-bought puff pastry can’t be compared with homemade Danish pastry. Your world will never be the same after you try to make homemade Danish dough and bake delicious desserts with it, like this Cream cheese Danish.
You can enjoy it without any filling. It’s so delicious and flavorful after it’s baked that you don’t have to add anything on top of it. This pastry is great to enjoy on its own.
You can freeze it. There are some nuances you should consider to freeze the dough, which I will cover further in the post, but you can make several batches and keep them in the freezer for several months.
Small batch. This Danish pastry dough is perfect for those who just want to try to make it for the first time.
You can double the recipe. If, however, you need a recipe that will feed a large group of people, or you like to cook and freeze for the future, you can easily double the recipe by multiplying each ingredient by 2.
What butter to use
You should use cold butter that has 82% fat per 100g of product (so-called European-style butter). The reason is that it has less water than regular butter, which means that it stays more pliable even when cold.
This is very important, especially since you want to bend it inside the dough and create dozens and dozens of thin layers.
What flour to use
I highly recommend using bread flour even though there are recipes that call for all-purpose flour. Bread flour is stronger, and when the gluten has developed, the dough stretches easily without tearing. This is important for Danish pastry because we want the butter to stay inside.
If you use weak flour, the dough can break at some point, and your butter will leak out during baking. It’s not the end of the world, of course, and your baked goods will still turn out very delicious even with some tearing, but too much tearing in the dough can ruin the whole batch for sure.
Other ingredients you will need
Yeast – Use either instant yeast or active dry yeast. If you use active dry yeast, don’t forget to activate it in the milk before adding it to the dough.
Salt and sugar – Danish dough has a very pleasant, sweet flavor because of the large amount of sugar and salt in it.
Milk – Use lukewarm whole milk to create a comfortable environment for the yeast.
Egg – You will need one large egg at room temperature.
Weigh all ingredients using a digital kitchen scale. This recipe likes precision; adding too much or too little of something can ruin your dough.
The better you prepare your butter block and initial dough slab, the easier it will be to work with the pastry. Prepare a pencil and ruler to draw a square on parchment paper to create a very precise butter block. Also, use the ruler to measure the dough slab that you will use to encapsulate the butter. Only this will give you a great starting point in the recipe.
Chill the dough well between folds. Every time you roll out the dough, it becomes warm, soft, and easy to damage by exposing all the butter layers. So leave your dough in the fridge or freezer until it’s cold but pliable. Also, chilling the dough gives the gluten time to relax, which means further rolling becomes easier.
Brush off the raw flour. Dusting with flour is essential in this recipe. Don’t be afraid to dust the surface you’re working on and the top of the dough during each step. However, once your slab is at the correct size and you’re ready to fold it, remove visible excess flour. Only then should you fold or your dough layers won’t connect well.
Try to keep your slab in a rectangular shape. The less rounded ends you have, the easier it is to work with the dough. Before folding, give yourself some time to adjust the shape of your slab. Gently pull the corners to make them 90 degrees, then adjust the width and length of your slab.
Step by step directions
Making the dough
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine the bread flour, instant yeast, white granulated sugar, and salt.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead for 4 minutes on medium speed or until the dough has formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Deflate and roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 5” by 10” (13cm by 26cm) rectangle. Wrap it in plastic wrap or parchment paper and freeze it for 20 minutes.
Creating the butter block
1. Arrange pieces of the butter on parchment paper into 4 ½” by 4 ½” (12cm by 12 cm) square. Fold the parchment paper on all sides, closing the butter completely. Gently beat it with the rolling pin.
2. Roll the butter within the envelope, gently forcing it into the corners and creating a square. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
1. Place the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and position the butter block in the middle.
2. Fold the bottom and top dough overhangs towards the center of the butter block, so they meet. Pinch them and the dough on the sides to seal the butter.
3. Rotate the slab 90 degrees left and add some flour underneath. Gently beat it with the rolling pin elongating the dough. Then, roll it into a 7” by 14” or 17 cm by 35cm slab.
4. Brush off the visible white flour (do this every time before folding the dough).
5. Perform a book fold, aka a four-fold turn. Then, cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
6. Remove from the fridge and place the dough on the rolling surface, rotating it 90 degrees left so the book opening is on the left side. Roll the dough into a 7” by 14” or 17cm by 35cm slab.
7. Perform a simple fold, aka a three-fold turn. Then, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
8. Turn the dough 90 degrees left, so the exposed end of the spiral is looking to the left side before you start rolling. Repeat the three-fold turn and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
9. Now, your laminated dough is ready to be rolled out, cut, shaped, proofed until puffy, and baked.
The dough is shrinking all the time when you try to roll it. The gluten is very tight and it needs additional time to rest. Stop rolling your dough if you’re struggling and carefully transfer it onto a plastic wrap. Close it and place it in the freezer (if it has become too soft) or fridge for another hour. The gluten will relax and stop resisting so much.
You see a lot of air bubbles inside the dough when you roll it out. This means that you either captured a lot of air when you were closing the butter block in the dough, or your dough was too warm so the yeast developed too much CO2. Small bubbles are okay and you can ignore them, but large ones should be gently burst with a toothpick. The dough should then be pinched to seal the hole.
Danish dough should not be stored in the fridge for longer than overnight once you’ve finished folding it. The reason is the yeast! The yeast is working even in the fridge, making your dough puffy with all the CO2 it produces. So, if you store the dough in the fridge for a couple of days and then reroll it before cutting it, you might burst all those air bubbles, tearing all those layers you were working on.
The only way to store this dough for a longer time is to freeze it. First, you need to roll out the final slab (which you would cut into portions for baking). Cover this slab with plastic wrap and then in a piece of foil, then freeze for two-to-three months. Before baking, thaw in the fridge until softened. Then, cut, shape, or fill with the filling of your choice, proof at room temperature until puffy, and bake.
You can also pre-cut the slab into portions or even shape them before freezing.
How to use this pastry dough recipe?
You can make world-famous, buttery, and delicious Danishes with cream cheese filling and any other toppings that you can imagine. You can go ahead and check my Cream cheese Danish recipe for inspiration.
If you want to bake plain squares of pastry, you can fancy them up with egg wash and pearl sugar.
I bake Danish pastries at 190C (370F) for 17-18 minutes. If I want to bake the dough without any filling, I bake it for 15 minutes at the same temperature. The baking time and temperature may vary in your oven.
The initial dough (without the butter block inside) can be stored overnight in the fridge. Once you laminate the dough, you can store it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for 7-8 hours (overnight) and bake it first thing in the morning. Or, freeze the dough right away after lamination.
Yes, you can! The instructions are in the notes section of the recipe card below.
More recipes you may like
- Stand mixer with a hook attachment or hand mixer with a hook attachment and a large mixing bowl (the recipe can be made 100% by hand as well)
- Parchment paper
- Rolling Pin
- Plastic wrap
- 250 g bread flour
- 4 g instant yeast
- 35 g white granulated sugar
- 5 g salt
- 115 ml whole milk lukewarm
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 15 g unsalted butter melted
- 135 g unsalted butter slightly cold
Dough (read how to make the dough by hand in the notes section below)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the bread flour, instant yeast, white granulated sugar, and salt.
- Add the milk, egg, and melted butter and knead for 4 minutes at medium speed until the dough has formed. Shape it into a ball on a lightly-floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Alternatively, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- Deflate and roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 5” by 10” (13cm by 25cm) rectangle. Be as precise as possible. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for 20 minutes.
- Draw a 4 ½” by 4 ½” (12cm by 12cm) square on parchment paper using a ruler and a pencil. Arrange pieces of the butter so they approximately fill in the square. Fold the parchment paper on all sides, following the lines enclosing the butter. Gently beat it with the rolling pin, evenly spreading and connecting the pieces.
- Roll the butter within the envelope, gently forcing it into the corners, creating a precise square that is even in thickness. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until cold but still bendable.
- Place the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and position the butter block in the middle so it has thin dough borders on the left and right sides.
- Fold the bottom and top dough overhangs towards the center of the butter block so they meet. Pinch them and the dough on the sides to seal the butter inside.
- Rotate the slab 90 degrees left and add some flour underneath. Gently beat it with the rolling pin, elongating the dough and filling the possible space inside the slab with butter. Roll it to make it even and adjust the ends so the dough keeps a rectangular shape. The slab should be approximately 7” by 14” or 17cm by 35cm.
- Brush off the visible white flour (do this every time before folding the dough).
- Perform a four-fold turn, aka a book fold: fold the bottom and top ends towards the center of the dough, leaving a small gap in between them. Then, fold the slab in half. It should look like a closed book. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove from the fridge and place the dough on the rolling surface, rotating it 90 degrees left so the book opening is on the left side. Roll the dough into a 7” by 14” or 17cm by 35cm slab. If any air bubbles appear on the surface, gently burst them with a toothpick and seal the dough again to prevent the butter from leaking out down the road.
- Do a three-fold turn, aka letter fold or simple fold: fold the bottom third over the middle third. Then, fold the top third over the bottom third that you folded previously. From the side, this fold should look like a spiral. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees to the left, so that the exposed end of the spiral is facing the left side, before you start rolling. Repeat the three-fold turn and refrigerate for 1 hour. Alternatively, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, freeze it for 40 minutes to slow down the yeast, and then refrigerate it for 6-8 hours (overnight) to bake first thing in the morning. In total, you should perform one four-fold and two three-fold turns.
- Now, your dough is ready to be rolled out, cut, shaped, proofed for 20 -30 minutes or until puffy, and baked. The baking instructions will vary depending on the size and type of pastry you want to make, but in general, this dough is baked at 375F (190C).