Lemony Cream Cheese Danish

Breakfast, Lemon Love, Meatless / Friday, December 24th, 2010


So, I mentioned that one of my favorite finds of 2010 is Processor Danish Pastry, a really flaky, versatile pastry dough you can make right in your food processor.

Yesterday, I used half of the dough to make six Morning Buns. A half-batch.

What happened to the other half of the dough? Well, you can’t really test danish dough without making a few danishes. Anything for science.

To make the danishes, you roll the dough into a large rectangle, divide it into six squares, and add a heaping tablespoon of filling onto each square. You will be tempted to add more than a tablespoon (we’re talking about a filling flavored with cream cheese, sugar, ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest), but you must resist! Otherwise, the extra filling will seep out of the pastry, and seepage is never good. Even lemony cream cheese seepage.

When the danishes come out of the oven, they’re already lovely, but this is one of those times when it’s nice to gild the lily. While they’re still warm, you’ll brush a clear glaze all over the pastry to add shine and sweetness. Then, once they’ve cooled a bit, you’ll drizzle on the sugar glaze that creates those recognizable squiggles of icing across the danish. These two glazes will make your danishes look and taste like you bought them from a bakery.

Lemony Cream Cheese Danish

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess”

Makes 6


  • A half-quantity of Processor Danish Pastry dough (recipe below), rolled out, and ready to use

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
    Egg Glaze:

  • 1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
    Clear Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
    Sugar Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar mixed with 1-2 tablespoons warm water
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment or SilpatĀ®, and set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolk, ricotta, vanilla, salt and lemon zest, and mix until just combined.
  3. Roll out the pastry into a big rectangle, and cut it in half. Divide each half into thirds, and place 1 heaping tablespoon of cream cheese filling on each piece of dough. (It’s tempting to add more filling, but don’t! The filling spreads, so it will seep out of the pasty if there’s too much.)
  4. Fold the opposite corners up together, and seal them with a pinch.
  5. Place the danishes on the baking sheets, and brush with the egg glaze.
  6. Let them rise until they double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. They should feel like marshmallows.
  7. About 30 minutes before they’re ready to be cooked, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If the corners have become unsealed, pinch them back together.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown.
  9. Transfer the danishes to a wire rack.
  10. While the danishes cool, make the clear glaze by heating the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  11. Brush the danishes with the clear glaze.
  12. When the danishes are a lot cooler, drizzle them with the sugar glaze.

Processor Danish Pastry

You’ll only need a half-batch of this dough for the danishes. Use the second half to experiment with another flavor, make a half-batch of Morning Buns, or freeze it for later.

Makes about 2 pounds

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups white bread flour
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) rapid-rise yeast or 1 tablespoon fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into thin slices
  1. Pour the water and milk into a measuring cup. Add the egg, beating with a fork to mix. Set aside.
  2. Set a large bowl near your food processor.
  3. Using your food processor, pulse the flour, yeast, salt and sugar just to combine.
  4. Add the cold slices of butter. Process briefly so that the butter is cut up a little, though you still want visible chunks of at least 1/2 inch.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the large bowl, and quickly add the contents of the cup.
  6. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together, but don’t overmix. Expect to have a gooey mess with some butter lumps pebbling it.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put it in the refrigerator, and leave it overnight or up to 4 days.
  8. To Turn the Dough Into Pastry: Remove the dough from the refrigerator, let it get to room temperature, and roll it out into a 20-inch square. Fold the dough square into thirds, like a business letter, turning it afterward so that the closed fold is on your left, like the spine of a book.
  9. Roll the dough out again into a 20-inch square, repeating the steps above 3 times.
  10. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, if you haven’t already done so at the earlier stage), or refrigerate half to use now and put the other half in the freezer to use later.

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13 thoughts on “Lemony Cream Cheese Danish

  1. oooh ooooh I have an idea! To get more filling in it, form them in a muffin tin so that it can't seep out! Then you get oodles and oodles of filling and I don't think it'll hurt anything else in the recipe, though it may change baking time.

  2. I'm already looking for my stretchiest pants… I'm afraid I just might have to make these! Great idea, Eva, oodles and oodles of filling could't hurt anything (except the size of my behing) : )

  3. Both these danishes and the morning buns look delicious! I think I may just have to try that processor danish pastry recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. There will be a difference, but you can make the substitution.

      Bread flour contains a higher percentage of protein than all-purpose, so it creates more gluten. Baked goods made with bread flour tend to hold their structure better and be a little chewier.

  4. Danishes are pretty much my bf & I's favorite indulgence. I made these for him for Valentines day, and they were to.die.for. I had a lot of leftover filling – but no problem, I think I'll use the rest of the dough to make a batch this weekend. Thanks – you never disappoint!

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