How to Make Bakery-Style Apple Danish at Home

March 28, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Heather Hands from Flourishing Foodie is sharing a recipe for a delicious -- and jaw-dropping -- danish braid that will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Apple Danish  

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During the formative years of my life, when getting out of bed before noon was completely foreign and eating a healthy meal meant adding a slice of tomato on top of my burger, my mother struggled to get me to eat a good breakfast before I ran out to catch the school bus. Since I lacked enthusiasm for breakfast cereal and had no desire for whole grains or yogurt, the only thing that she could conceivably get me to eat was danish. I wasn’t picky in this regard; I enjoyed a whole multitude of flavors, like cherry, raspberry, blueberry, and apple. Back in the sheltered days of my youth, this was eating at its finest. 

More: Make every breakfast the breakfast of champions.

This apple cinnamon danish braid is a tribute to my childhood and the result of a personal quest to make something that was -- and still is -- so close to my heart. The dough needs to be made ahead of time, so a little planning is required, but once you remove that warm cinnamon apple braid from the oven and cover it with a glaze and powdered sugar, you’ll understand why all of the time is worth it. I like to eat my danish with a slice of aged cheddar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Apple Cinnamon Danish Braid

Makes 1 danish braid with leftover dough


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg white plus 1 teaspoon water


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, proof the yeast with the warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar and let stand until it foams. Add the egg, milk, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and salt to the yeast and stir. Set aside.

Place the flour into a large bowl with the cold butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour into tiny pieces. (You can also use your food processor for this step.)

Add the wet ingredients to the flour and butter and combine with a spatula until the dough starts to come together. Place the dough onto a floured work surface and shape into a square using your hands. Roll the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. 

Fold the dough lengthwise into thirds like you’re folding a letter to fit into an envelope. Roll the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle, and then fold into thirds again. Repeat this process twice more, until you’ve done the rolling and folding a total of 3 times. Cut the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight.

After a good night’s sleep, you’re finally ready to make your Danish braid! Peel, core, and slice the apples. Brown the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop over low heat. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Once the butter is brown, add the apples and the cinnamon sugar mixture to the pot and toss to combine. Cook on low heat until all of the liquid has evaporated and the apples are tender. Remove the apples from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

Before you begin to make the braid, preheat the oven to 400º F. Remove one piece of dough from the fridge, and save the other for a rainy day. (The dough keeps for one week in the fridge and two months in the freezer.)

On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. Place the apples down in the middle of the dough.

With the dough laid in front of you and the shorter side facing you, make 1-inch diagonal cuts down the left and right sides of the dough -- imagine you are drawing a Christmas tree. Once you have reached the bottom, cut away two triangle pieces, so that the dough now has a tree trunk. Fold the tree trunk flap over the apples, then go back to the top and fold each strip over the apples, alternating from left to right and moving towards the bottom.  

Carefully place the parchment paper with the braid on top onto a baking sheet. Brush the top of the pastry with an egg wash of one egg white and a teaspoon of water. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. 

Now, for the icing. In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and the vanilla. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if the icing is too thick -- it should be pourable, but not so thin that it drips off of the pastry. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the braid and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

If you don't finish the danish braid the day you bake it (which is highly unlikely), store it in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, for 3 to 4 days. Reheat the danish in the oven or microwave before eating.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Heather Hands

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • lj
  • Kristina Nikolova
    Kristina Nikolova
  • gwyn
  • Cathleen
  • Candaceelise
I was born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada. I ate corn on the cob, sour cherry pie, sweet peaches, and big Beefsteak tomatoes in the summer, and pancakes with maple syrup tapped from the trees out back, in the winter. I now live in Seattle, WA, a place I call home. My summers are now filled will blackberries from the vine, Rainier cherries, and foraged mushrooms in the winter. I am a dietitian, nutrition educator, and as of a few years ago, I'm now a food blogger. My hobbies include: gardening, making pie, and brewing beer. I'll never turn down a glass of wine or slice of cake. I like to cook with good olive oil, Maldon salt, and a whole lot of garlic. If I was stuck on an island and I could bring only one thing to eat, the answer would be pizza. The answer should always be pizza.


lj January 8, 2017
What I done in the past with apple pie, and I believe it with work in this case as well, all that "great" juice, take it out put on a pot on middle hot heat add little of scratch mix until gets tick and put it back, this way you don't lose it in the cooking process
Kristina N. November 26, 2014
My dough turned out quite well and went for its beauty sleep in the fridge just now. To those of you whose dough turned out to be too wet, I'd recommend to chill the flour butter mixture after you've cut the butter into it. That extra step helps ensure the butter hasn't melted during the cutting process.
gwyn April 6, 2014
my dough was also very wet. too wet to roll. i added probably 1/2 more flour. also, the directions say to cook the apples and sugar mixture 'until all of the liquid has evaporated.' although there appears to be a good amount of liquid with the apples in the photos above. i tried to find a middle ground. my fear was all that liquid would make the crust soggy. apples are cooling now--i'll guess i'll find out!
Heather H. April 8, 2014
You want to cook the apples until most of the liquid has evaporated. Some apples are much juicier than others, so it may be a challenge to get all of the liquid to evaporate. If you have a small amount that spreads out onto the dough, that is perfectly fine. The crust will still bake up nice, and wont become really soggy. I prefer my apples a bit juicier anyways, I think it adds to a nice texture. As for the dough being a bit wet, that is normal. You can use some flour to roll it out, preventing it from sticking to surfaces. You could also try chilling the dough once it is mixed.
Cathleen April 5, 2014
This looks to be unbelievably delicious, but so far the dough has come out extremely wet, more of a batter than the dough. It's reminding me of donut batter, is that how it's supposed to look. I added a good 1/4 cup of flour, but it remained fully spreadable. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Heather H. April 8, 2014
Was the butter chilled when you cut it into the flour? Did you over mix the ingredients? You want to combine the wet and dry ingredients just until wet. Beside that, I really can't think of any other reasons, unless there was a too much liquid added. The dough should be a stickier, wet dough, but not spreadable or batter. Sorry, I wish I had some sort of solution.
Cathleen April 8, 2014
I probably did over mix the ingredients, I definitely stirred the dry/wet, rather than merely combined them. My butter was definitely chilled when it was cut in, although I'm not sure how that would affect whether the dough became a batter. It looked nothing like the dough square in the picture, it really looked like spread out donut batter, which I just kept drenching with more flour. That said -- I confess that I did not cut to tiny pieces, with pie dough I usually leave a few bigger pieces so I went ahead and did that here. Meanwhile, I haven't actually had time to finish it, so it's chilling nicely. I'll report back tomorrow, hopefully!
Candaceelise March 28, 2014
Mmm this makes me think of cheese danish
Kate March 28, 2014
Beautiful! And what a fun challenge for a weekend. I love the idea of eating this with cheddar cheese.