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Easy Danish pastries

Updated: Tue, 8 August, 2023

Easy Danish pastry, and it’s not an oxymoron. No laminating, only minimal pastry folding and the end result is delightful. Plus two kinds of filling for the pastries included in the recipe.

easy danish pastries

Easy Danish? No such thing!

I have made Danish, aka laminated pastry quite a few times and though the results have been decent, it’s not an experience I’m keen to often repeat.

The block of butter never wants to roll out evenly, the dough tears on contact with said butter which stubbornly peeks through, and the less said about folding the dough with the butter inside, the better.

So I was very distrustful towards the recipe featured in New York Times Cooking.

What? An easy take on the laminated dough classic? I thought it was not going to resemble even remotely what is achieved through toil and slog of making proper Danish. Which, incidentally, is called Viennese in Denmark.

Here you are supposed to simply mix the butter with yeasty flour and some liquid, rest it in the fridge and then roll out once or twice.

At a glance, I hadn’t expected it to work. I’d thought it might be a nice product but would not resemble the flaky and layered genuine article.

What do you know? It does.

It compares really favourably with the real laminated pastry.

It isn’t quite as stratified, nor are those strata as distinctly, airily separated but if sampled side by side, you might have difficulty telling it apart from the true Danish. Considering the substantially smaller effort involved in the making, it’s a triumph.

easy laminated pastries

How to make easy Danish pastry

The process starts like shortcrust pastry. Aha, you think, I’m making a pie! But you don’t really because there’s yeast in the mix.

It’s a very simple process, like making biscuits. Dry ingredients, flour, sugar, yeast and salt are stirred together and ice-cold diced butter is cut into it.

cutting butter into flour

You can use a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, a food processor or just cut the butter into the mix with two knives. Whichever way, it needs to be brief: the point is to coat each globule of butter with the flour mix rather than disperse it into tiny crumbs.

When you’re done, there should be clearly visible pea-sized dots of butter in the bowl.

Wet ingredients are one egg, some milk and a little water beaten together. This should be lightly folded into the dry ingredients until absorbed.

And that’s the first stage – the dough, shaped into a rectangle, will now be wrapped in cling film and stored in the fridge for up to two days.

easy danish dough

The folding stage – but it’s easy

If you have tried yourself or even watched videos showing how to laminate dough, you know it’s a daunting exercise.

This is nothing like it. All you need to do is to roll out the butter-studded rectangle of dough, straight from the fridge, into three times its length, then fold back like an envelope. Give it a quarter turn and roll out again, this time in the opposite direction.

You can dust the dough and the rolling pin with extra flour as necessary. Fold it over again and do the final turn, roll and fold.

Re-wrap the dough and return it into the fridge for an hour, after which time repeat the process exactly. It should become smoother and more pliable by then.

After a longer spell in the fridge, three hours or overnight, it’s ready to roll out, cut and shape.

rolling out easy danish

How to shape simple Danish pastries?

The simplest pastries, Danish style, are made from the dough rolled out to a large square, cut into individual squares as large or small as you wish.

Fold the corners of each square into the middle, diamond shape, and let them proof for an hour or so at room temperature, covered with plastic wraps.

cutting danish pastries

After they’ve puffed up significantly, they can be topped with jam, preserve, candied fruit, cream cheese filling, curd or whatever else you fancy.

It’s better to add the filling after the shaped pastry has risen. Otherwise as it rises, the folded corners might spring open and jettison the filling to the side.

shaped danish pastries

Filling for Danish pastries

I have provided below two easy filling recipes: raspberry and apple. Both are quick to make and worth making in larger quantities, to be frozen for the next pastry or pie occasion. Both are barely sweet if compared with jams, and the addition of some cornflour slurry to the fruit compote is what holds it in shape when spooned onto pastries.

Raspberry filling can be made with frozen or fresh berries and it involves briefly cooking the fruit with a little sugar, then thickening it with some cornflour.

raspberry filling for pastry

Apple filling uses the same method, with cooking apples chopped into pieces simmered with sugar and cinnamon. They need to be mashed a little when sofetned, then also thickened with cornflour slurry.

apple filling for pastry

Both fillings keep well in the fridge so can be made ahead.

You can use the same recipe for a different kind of fruit, to make blueberry or apricot, strawberry or peach filling.

easy apple danish

Is the dough suitable for croissants?

It’s a wonderful dough/pastry and a massive shortcut as compared with proper laminating, but unfortunately it’s not suitable to make croissants.

Instead of layered, flaky pastry you’d get a lumpy crescent which, though perfectly edible, does not merit to be called croissant.

easy raspberry and apple danish pastry

More pastry recipes

Butter tarts with maple syrup, traditional Canadian treats. Classic butter tarts with flaky pastry, they should be filled only halfway up to stop the filling from boiling over.

Kouign amann, pronounced kween ah-mon, is Breton butter pastry, similar to croissant but with added sugar and extra butter. My recipe is a cheat’s kouign amann, easier to make and not quite as calorific as the traditional pastry from Brittany.

Hamantaschen are Jewish pastries filled with utterly delightful poppy seed mixture. 'Haman's pockets' or oznei Haman are a traditional treat for the celebration of Purim.

easy danish

Easy Danish pastries

Servings: makes 9 pastriesTime: 3 hours plus chilling pastry over 2 days


  • For the dough:
  • 200g strong white bread flour, plus more for the work surface and the rolling pin
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 3g (1 tsp) instant yeast
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 60 ml whole milk, cold
  • 1 beaten egg, for brushing
  • For the raspberry filling:
  • 200g frozen raspberries
  • 100g water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 15g cornflour
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • For the apple filling:
  • 2 small dessert apples (200g when peeled and cored)
  • 100g water
  • 70g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 15g corn flour
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • a small handful of sultanas


1. The dough is mixed ahead as it needs to sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

2. To make the dough, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a food processor or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and briefly whiz to combine: it should not get incorporated in the flour but still be visible in the shape of small peas.

3. Whisk together the egg, milk and 2 tbsp water. Add to the flour mixture and fold it in with a spatula until absorbed. Turn the dough out onto cling film, pat into a rectangle, wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

4. When you’re ready for the folding stage, roll the dough out on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin to a rectangle of about 20 x 40cm.

5. With the short side facing you, fold the dough in thirds like a letter, bringing the top third of the dough down, then folding the bottom third up. If it sticks, dust with more flour and use a dough scraper to detach it.

6. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat the rolling out and folding process, then rotate the dough once more and roll and fold again. As you work, dust the work surface, your hands and the rolling pin with flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

7. Repeat the entire three-times-rolling-and-folding process again at which point the dough should start to become smoother. If it’s still sticky, chill it for a bit longer. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

8. To make the raspberry filling, place the frozen raspberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the raspberries have broken down. Stir the cornflour with the 2 tbsp water into a slurry, whisk it in and let it bubble for another 5 minutes until it thickens considerably. Transfer it to a bowl and cool completely.

9. To make the apple filling, peel, core and roughly dice the apples. Place them in a pan with the water, sugar and cinnamon and cook for 15 minutes, like the raspberry filling. When the apples start to soften, mash them roughly with a potato ricer. Make the cornflour slurry and whisk it in, add the sultanas and let it bubble for another 5 minutes until it thickens. Transfer it to a bowl and cool completely.

10. When you’re ready to make the pastries, roll the chilled dough out to a 30 x 30cm square. Trim the edges and cut into nine 10 x 10cm squares using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter.

11. Brush the corners of each square with a bit of the beaten egg, then fold each corner into the centre and press down gently. Transfer the squares to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover them loosely with cling film or place in inflated plastic bags (just blow into the bag and tie the ends!) and leave to prove and puff up for 1 – 1 ½ hour.

12. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. When the pastry has risen, gently spoon a portion of the filling into the middle of each one. Brush the top and sides of the dough with the beaten egg and transfer to the oven.

13. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190C/375F/gas 5, rotate the baking sheets if baking two at the same time and bake for further 7-10 minutes until golden brown.

14. Cool on the trays and drizzle with simple water-icing sugar icing if you like.

Originally published: Wed, 13 April, 2016

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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