The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

A Really Good Danish Dough

baltochef's picture

A Really Good Danish Dough

I am relatively new on this forum..I have been perusing the various sub-forums to read old threads so as to get a sense of the forums..I noticed that many people have been requesting recipes for a danish dough that tastes good..I believe the following recipe will satisfy the most descriminating pastry lover..It is a modern distillation of a commercial recipe given to me in my first bakery job while I was attending culinary school..I have made substitutions for the home baker as regards to ingredients that are not easy to come by outside of commercial bakeries..For instance, we used orange icing fruit as a flavoring ingredient in the dough..I have chosen to use a combination of fresh orange zest and Boyijan orange oil as a substitute..I have found that orange oil is preferable to orange flavorings, as the orange flavoring seems to get lost in the background of some of the other flavors..This is not a quick and easy recipe to execute..It will require several days time before one can roll out the dough to actually form pastries from it..Nevertheless, it is well worth the time and effort to make this dough..The following recipe will make approximately 7 lb. 12 oz. of danish dough..It will completely fill a half-sized sheet pan several inches thick..This recipe is one-eighth of the recipe that I used to make 5-6 times a week back in the early 1980's..


Danish Dough

Butter To Roll Into The Dough: Cold Weather--Room temperatures below 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit

32 oz. unsalted butter

4 oz. King Arthur bread flour

If the room temperatures are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit then add an additional 4 oz. of bread flour to the flour mix.This will give the butter / flour mix more mass and allow the baker to roll the dough in hotter temps without the butter melting as quickly..

Wet Ingredients

17 oz. whole milk, 100 degrees Fahrenheit

13.25 oz. whole large eggs (1 1/2 cups by volume) (approximately 9 eggs) (room temperature)

4.75 oz. large egg yolks (1/2 cup by volume) (approximately 8 egg yolks) (room temperature)

8 oz. light brown sugar

1 tbsp. bourbon vanilla extract

1 tsp. oronge oil

Zest from 4 large oranges

Dry Ingredients

48 oz. King Arthur bread flour

1/2 oz. fine sea salt, or table salt

2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. ground cassia cinnamon

3 1/4 tsp. SAF Gold instant yeast


I make the butter mixture up the day before I am going to make the dough..This gives it time to get as cold as possible before the rolling in process..I place it in the coldest section of my refrigerator..I allow the butter to soften at room temperature until it is soft enough to be easily worked in the mixer..You want to completely incorporate the flour and butter together without developing the gluten any more than is absolutely necessary..When the butter and flour are evenly incorporated, remove the mixture from the bowl onto a well-floured surface, divide it into two equal parts by weight, and roll each piece out into a rectangle that measures approximately 12" x 17"..This is 1" less in width and length than the dimensions of a standard size 1/2 sheet pan..Brush off any excess flour clinging to each side of the rectangle..Place each rectangle of butter and flour between two sheets of parchment paper, stack the rectangles onto a 1/2 sheet pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 8 hours..

I place the wet ingredients into the bowl of my DLX mixer..I stir the flour, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom togrther with a whisk before adding the instant yeast, which I stir evenly into the flour mixture..I add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and knead for approximately 6 minutes..This should be a somewhat sticky dough..A lot of flour will be incorporated into the dough during each stage of the rolling out / folding process..The dough should temp 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit when fully developed..I remove the scraper arm and the roller, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and proof until doubled..

When the dough has doubled in volume, it is turned out onto a large, well-floured work surface, flattened into a rough rectangle, dusted generously with flour, and rolled out until it measures one times the length and three times the width of a standard 1/2 sheet pan..It helps greatly to have a heavy, large diameter rolling pin that is 13"-16" wide when making danish dough, or puff pastry..Any excess flour is brushed off the top side of the dough..This is now going to form what is called a book fold..The first rectangle of cold butter / flour is now placed onto the exact center of the brushed off dough..Bring the left side of the dough over top of the butter to the right completely covering the butter..Pinch it down around the edges of the butter..Brush any excess flour off of what was once in contact with the work surface..Now, set the second rectangle of cold butter / flour directly on top of the dough-butter-dough..Bring the right side of the remaining dough over to the left, covering the second rectangle of butter / flour..Pinch this down tightly around the edges..Flour a 1/2 sheet pan generously, place the dough-butter-dough-butter-dough rectangle onto the floured sheet pan, and using your rolling pin, gently roll the dough mass to fill the sheet pan in all directions..Slide the sheet pan containing the dough into a tall kitchen plastic garbage bag, gently press out as much air as possible, secure the bag with a twist tie, and place the covered dough into the refrigerator to relax and get COLD..This might take as long as 2-4 hours..The dough and butter should be as cold as possible from this point forward when statrting the rolling out and folding process..Seperate layers is the goal here..If you have hot hands, as I do (high, active metabolism!!) then I might suggest encasing your hands in 3-5 layers of latex or vinyl gloves to insulate them from the dough while working it..Speed is of the utmost essence during rolling out and folding..A heavy rolling pin, a cold kitchen, a stone work surface, cold hands, anything that can keep the butter cold, and make the process go faster is to be desired..At the end of this initial roll / fold process you have 3 layers..

When the dough-butter-dough-butter-dough mass is truly cold it is removed from the refrigerator and plastic bag, and turned out of the sheet pan onto a well-floured work surface..It is now rolled out to measure one times the length and four times the width of the 1/2 sheet pan..The top surface is brushed free of any excess flour..Both the left and right edges of the dough are brought over towards the exact middle of the dough rectangle until they meet in the center..The excess flour of what was once in contact with the work surface is now brushed off..The dough is now folded one more time to create a rectangle the same size as the 1/2 sheet pan..The dough is placed back into the floured sheet pan, gently rolled with the pin to evenly fill the pan (if necessary), placed back into the plastic bag, the air pressed out, the bag secured, and placed back into the refrigerator to relax and get cold..You now have 12 layers..

The process of rolling the dough out and folding four times is now repeated three more times..After the fourth 4-fold the dough is returned to the sheet pan, covered with the plastic bag, sealed, and allowed to rest / cold slow proof overnight..The dough will grow to several inches thick overnight, and be ready to use the following day..This is where most recipes fall short..The average home baker simply does not want to spend the better part of a 16 hour day to accomplish in the home what might take 4--5 hours in a bakery with commercial equipment..A bakery's refrigerators will chill the dough far more quickly than a home refrigerator will, speeding the process up considerably..Many recipes stop with the second 4-fold..The more folds, within reason, the greater the number of layers, and the flakier the pastry will be..

Book fold= 3 layers

First 4-fold= 12 layers

Second 4-fold= 48 layers

Third 4-fold= 192 layers

Fourth 4-fold= 768 layers

A really good basic filling to put between the layers of the rolled out danish dough prior to twisting into shapes is:

Almond Smear

16 oz. almond paste

16 oz. granulated sugar

24 oz. yellow cake crumbs

2 tsp. ground cassia cinnamon

Sufficient water to bring the above ingredients to an easily spreadable consistency at room temperature that will not tear the danish dough when spread with an offset spatula..


I hope this recipe helps those that have been searching for a tasty danish dough recipe..






SylviaH's picture



This sounds like a wonderful recipe...Thank you for your time to write it down.  I have made a copy and hope to enjoy this recipe in the near future!  Sure wish you had some pictures of your danish!  It's still a very large recipe....but very nice!


baltochef's picture

I must have proof read the above post at least 10 times before posting to try and eliminate any mistakes, or errors in spelling / punctuation..Nevertheless, I COMPLETELY FORGOT to put the sugar in the recipe..So, I went back and edited the recipe to reflect having the eggs at room temperature before cracking them, and to add the 8 oz. of light brown sugar to the wet ingredients..A trick that can be utilized with citrus zests in any sweet recipe calling for sugar is to put the sugar for the recipe in a large bowl..Then place the grated zest on top of the sugar, and rub the sugar and zest between the palms of one's hands vigorously..The essential oils in the citrus zest will then adhere to the sugar molecules in the crystals..This will more evenly incorporate the flavors of the citrus into the recipe..

Sylvia--You could always cut this recipe in half so as to fit the dough in a 1/4 sheet pan..

Anyway, sorry about the mistake with leaving the light brown sugar out of the recipe!!!



SylviaH's picture

Was just on way back to make a print of recipe! 



holds99's picture

I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to post this recipe.  Very nice job.  It sounds wonderful.  I have taken some pastry courses in the past and the dough looks as though it might be similar to mille feuille.  I will definitely try it...SOON!


baltochef's picture

As an aside to the above recipe, please do not stint when choosing fillings / toppings for this danish dough..The dough from this recipe, given to me by an "Old-School" German-Jewish baker (he did not consider himself either a chef or a pastry chef), truly demands the best in fillings or toppings..At the bakery where I learned this recipe, the danish dough far outclassed the fillings..The fillings were run-of-the-mill fillings out of #10 cans; apple, blueberry, cherry, lemon, poppyseed..Still, and all, the pastries made with this dough tasted far better than the ones made with traditional low-cost sweet dough made with shortening..I am sure that the experienced bakers here already know this, but the final glaze on the hot pastries should be made with a diluted apricat glaze..Applied directly after the pastries come out of the oven, the glaze will dry in minutes, as well as add an additional layer of flavor to the pastries....

nbicomputers's picture

math correction from baker to an another

it is very close to my formula but i use white sugar and 1 pound of it in the dough rathar than the 8 oz in this formula but the correction is in the layers

you start with dough butter dough butter dough

thats 5 layers not 3 after the folding you will have a lot more layers than stated

5 x4 20

20x4 80

80x 4 320

320 x 4 1280

baltochef's picture

n bicomputers


Your math is correct..The difference between your calculations and mine was that the baker that taught me the recipe only counted the layers of dough, not the two layers of butter sandwiched between the initial folds..Properly executed, the liquids in the butter flash into steam when layered pastries such as danish and puff pastry are baked..I suppose in actuality there are microscopic layers of butter solids left sandwiched between the layers of dough after the liquids in the butter evaporate..

Either way that one calculates the layers, when properly made the danish is tender and flaky, with an incredibly rich taste..

nbicomputers's picture

Its a opinion i guess more than a rule.

i baked for more than 25 years and at the time i had to quite due to health reasons was considered a master baker. it is allways nice to talk shop with another pro

glad to have you here

SylviaH's picture

The apricot glaze sounds so much better than using a sugar/water glaze...I have used apricot glazes on tarts and it always tastes and looks so lovely and shiny!  Apple jelly makes a nice glaze on apple tarts!  Im just a novice baker but enjoy making pastries and breads.  Fresh fruit really tops off a nice pastry dough and there is so much available here in So. California.  Thanks again for sharing your recipes!



baltochef's picture

Something that just came to mind that will probably make the process of rolling out the two butter / flour layers easier, would be to use a pair of Matfer silicone non-stick mats to actually roll out the butter on..I happen to own a pair of these that I purchased mainly for baking sticky cookies like tuilles, and for candy making..It occured to me that one could flour the mats and form the 12" x 17" butter layers directly on the silicone mats..Then the baker would have the butter on a more easily handled surface that can be transfered to a sheet pan to be bagged and to chill overnight..Also, when it came time to apply the butter layer to the dough for the book fold, it would peel off of the mat easier than it would parchment paper..I am planning to make a batch of danish dough soon, so I will try this out..My best guess is that it will be much easier than trying to move around a thin layer of butter on a wooden table surface..Just a thought..


Yars1's picture

Hi Bruce, 

I am a newbie in the field of baking. I wanted to give your recipe a try but need some clarifications. Sorry if my questions are basic or sound stupid.

I wanted to make half of your recipe as the amount of dough in the full version is too much. Can i still roll out the dough to the same measurements as listed in the full recipe (i.e the measurements of the standard 1/2 sheet pan)?

As you stated the average home baker does not want to spend 16 hrs of the day making the dough. Can I leave the dough in the refrigerator for longer than the 2-4 hour time periods and complete the process of laminating the dough over the course of a few days?

 After the 4th fold and the overnight cold rest the dough is rolled out and shaped. How long would you let it rise for prior to baking? If one wants to freeze the dough after it is made you would put it into the freezer right after the fourth fold and overnight cold rest?