A week before Thanksgiving I called my mother looking for a Danish Pastry Ring recipe. I hadn’t seen her make it in years… like maybe 25… but the moment I said “do you remember that pastry wreath?” she knew exactly what I was talking about.
I asked her why she stopped making it and her response was “It was too much work. All of the rolling, folding and chilling and then repeat.” I won’t sugar coat it- this recipe is likely the most advanced, time consuming and technical of all the recipes I have on my site. We’ve recently added more step-by-step images to help you make this and feel confident in your abilities.
What's In This Article
Danish Pastry Wreath- A Family Tradition
Yea, I know, the blogger cliche of telling a personal story, but let me tell YOU how many personal stories I get about this recipe every single year around the holidays? Some have made me cry!
Few recipes will stand the test of time, but it seems that I am not the only one. I’ve received the most heartfelt messages about posting this who people who share the same nostalgia as me.
For those looking for a trip down memory lane, one reader, Melissa Combes, shared these with us. The original pages from McCalls Magazine!
Zwieback Cookies Substitution
Remember Zwieback cookies? The biscuits marketed for teething children? The ones that also tasted good enough for mom to snack on? Well Nabisco discontinued them. Another brand called Brandt makes them and calls them rusk.
I could not locate them, so needed to find a substitute. Overall, aim for a soft, moist cookie or cracker.
- Graham Crackers– this is what I ultimately used, but they are slightly drier than Zwieback, so I added a small amount of water to the almond paste mix.
- Nilla Wafers- Or vanilla wafers.
- Other vanilla teething biscuits
This coffee cake ring is made special through a process called laminating the dough. Simply put it means that the dough and butter is rolled out and layered on top of itself several times.
It creates super thin layers alternating dough and butter which gives the honeycomb interior structure- lightly and fluffy. It is the same process used for many pastries and also croissants.
It also what makes this a fairly lengthy process and advanced baking recipe.
I wish I could say the ingredient list was standard pantry essentials, but it is not. Head to the store! Please note this recipe makes two pastry rings. It can be divided, but honestly what are you going to do with just 4 ounces of almond paste and why go to all the trouble to just make one?
- Unsalted butter- I have to stress to use unsalted for this recipe. One of the trickiest parts is making sure the dough doesn’t dry out and salt does speed up that process. We also add salt to the dough. If you have to use salted butter, omit the additional salt.
- All-Purpose Flour– This recipe calls for a good amount and you’ll need more to flour the surface, which the recipe accounts for so the first rolling might be a fairly sticky dough. While I want you to flour liberally to prevent sticking, also brush off any extra as this can also lead to drier pastry. Use a dry pastry brush before wrapping and chilling.
- Whole milk– Yes, you need whole for this one, no swapping out reduced fat milk. The fats are essential to the puffing of the dough. The milk also needs to be scalded, which is the process of heating it slightly, but not to a boil, that reduces the water content and helps the yeast to bloom.
- Sugar- Plain white sugar for the dough!
- Coarse Kosher Salt– Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt gives the cleanest salt flavor. Because the dough has time to rise several times and the salt is added at a liquid stage, it is fine to use coarse. If opting for fine, reduce to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Dry Active Yeast- Make sure your yeast isn’t expired!
- Hot Water- Using the correct temperature of water is imperative to making yeast bloom. Too cold and it does nothing, too hot and it kills it. Aim for between 105°F-110°F using a digital thermometer. This can generally be obtained using hot tap water.
- Eggs– Help to bind and provide structure.
- Graham Crackers– We used 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs. These can be bought in a box already ground or grind your own. It takes about 6 full crackers (large with 4 quarters) plus 1-2 quarters to get the full cup.
- Almond Extract- This goes into the filling and we have increased the amount for more almond-y flavor. Vanilla extract can also be used.
- Almond Paste- Almond paste is made from ground almonds or almond meal (which is essentially super fine almonds) along with sugar, although it doesn’t have a super sweet flavor. It is thick and a little greasy, because almonds have their own oil. It can be found in the baking section in a tube or roll and usually pretty pricey because well, so are almonds! You can also make your own.
How to Make It
We are including lots of tips, tricks and images in this section because they are helpful. The printed version doesn’t go into this much detail and has half of the images. Please note that you can opt to not print any images- it does end up being about 3 pages long if you do, but some readers find them helpful and didn’t link when we took them all out.
Make the Dough
- In a medium bowl, beat butter and 1/4 cup flour until smooth, fluffy and butter lightens one shade. Adding a smaller amount of flour will help the butter keep its shape.
- Spritz a medium rimmed baking sheet and cover with wax paper or parchment paper. The moisture will help it stick while you spread out the butter mixture. Mark a 12×8 rectangle lightly with pencil or eyeball it. Fit butter mixture into this shape. I happen to have a baking sheet exactly this size, but otherwise do your best.
- Place in the refrigerator. It will need to chill for a minimum of 1 hour to re-firm to the typically butter texture, but it can go overnight if needed.
- Scald the milk and then reduce heat to low and stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Adding it too hot to the yeast will kill the yeast, so measure and make sure it has reduced to below 110°F.
- Place the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water (between 105°-110°F) in a large mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooled milk mixture, eggs, and the remaining flour (3 3/4 cups). Beat until smooth, but don’t overmix. Overmixing leads to overworking the gluten which can results in dry pastry dough. The dough will be soft and sticky- this is normal and to account for several generous flourings and rollings. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Alternately, you can turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten with your palm. This helps to chill faster without losing moisture.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, clean counter or rolling mat. Knead the dough a few times to improve elasticity. Flour the rolling pin and flatten into a 12×16 rectangle. Remove cold butter mixture from the refrigerator and set onto one half of the dough. It will look like an open book. Carefully pull up non-butter side of dough and cover (like you are closing a book). Press edges together with your fingers so it resembles a closed book.
- Continue generously flouring rolling surface to prevent sticking, if it does stick, use a pastry scraper to gently nudge it up. Rotate the dough to fit better on the rolling mat. Roll out again to a 16×8 rectangle. Fold this rectangle into thirds, pinching edges together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap to hold in moisture and chill for 1 hour. Remember, if there is excess flour on the dough, please brush it with a pastry brush to remove.
- Remove the dough and roll again to a 16×8 rectangle on a well-floured surface. Fold into thirds and chill again for 30 minutes. Roll out one more time, fold into thirds one more time, then wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Leave the plastic with a tiny bit of slack because the yeast will rise a bit.
Make the Filling
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, almond paste, water and almond extract in a bowl. If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend using it. Blend until smooth and soft, which can take up to 5-7 minutes. it will start off being hard and slapping the bowl, but as it warms, it will become more malleable. Set aside at room temperature until you are ready to use it. The filling can be made in advance and just covered and set aside until needed.
- Remove the dough and divide into two equal portions. Return one half to the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll the remaining dough into a 22×9 inch square on a floured surface. Cut dough lengthwise into 3 equal strips approximately 3 inches wide.
- Spread 1/3 cup of almond filling down the center of each strip. I found it easiest to roll into small worm like pieces instead of spread it- this prevents the dough from splitting.
- Fold over and pinch all edges together as best you can. You can even use a pastry with water to connect them if they are too floured to stick. We are trying to prevent them from popping open while rising or baking
Braid the Pastry
- Braid the three strips using a standard braiding technique.
- Gently form into a circle with a 6-inch diameter center, you can even put a 6 inch bowl in the center to help you measure. Pinch ends together so filling does not escape. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a slightly moistened towel and set aside to rise for 45 minutes. Do not overproof the dough! While it won’t hurt it in the long run, the wreath will be super big and the braids will start to split with filling escaping out.
- Continue with second set of dough.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the pastry ring, without moistened covering, into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Every so often, spray a water bottle into the oven to create steam. If the top starts to brown too fast, place a leaf of aluminum foil gently over the top.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool fully.
Icing & Garnish
The topping is a standard powdered sugar glaze made from powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. The original recipe uses red candied cherries, but sometimes we switch it up and use green, a mix or even sliced almonds. The icing should be skipped, it is really the only sweet element to the recipe, however skip the cherries if you want to keep it more towards the savory spectrum.
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and 3-4 tablespoons milk in a small bowl until it is a drizzling consistency and free of lumps.
- Drizzle over the cooled pastry rings.
- While the icing is still tacky, add cherries and/or almonds.
- You are now ready to enjoy this delicious creation and the product of all your hard work, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.
Storage & Freezing
Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, but wrapped well in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It is best enjoyed within 3 days of baking. I also like to warm it for just a few seconds in the microwave. It warms the butter and bring back its original glory.
This recipe makes two wreaths. Unless you plan on serving a crowd or selling them at a bake sale, you’ll likely want to freeze one.
You’ll also love these fruity breakfast and brunch ideas!
- Easy Apple Cream Cheese Strudel
- Peach and Cherry Cobbler
- Cherry Dumpling Casserole
- Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Danish Pastry Ring (Danish Pastry Wreath)
Make the Dough:
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter and 1/4 cup flour until smooth, fluffy and butter lightens one shade.
- Spritz a medium rimmed baking sheet and cover with wax or parchment paper.
- Mark a 12×8 rectangle lightly with pencil and spread butter mixture into this shape. Place in the refrigerator. It will need to chill for a minimum of 1 hour to re-firm.
- Scald the milk by placing in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes (never to a boil) and then decrease heat to low and stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Place the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooled milk mixture, eggs, and the remaining 3 3/4 cups flour. Beat until combined and smooth, but do not overmix. Dough will be soft and sticky. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough with your hands a few times. Flour a rolling pin and flatten into a 12×16 rectangle. Remove cold butter mixture from the refrigerator and set onto one half of the dough. It will look like an open book. Carefully pull up non-butter side of dough and cover (like you are closing a book). Press edges together so it resembles a closed book.
- Continue to generously flouring rolling surface to prevent sticking. Rotate the dough so it fits better on the mat. Roll out the dough again to a 16×8 rectangle. Fold this rectangle into thirds, pinching edges together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Remove dough and roll again to a 16×8 rectangle. Fold into thirds and chill again for 30 minutes. Roll out one more time, fold into thirds one more time, then wrap dough in plastic wrap with a little slack and refrigerate overnight.
Make the Filling:
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, almond paste, water and almond extract in a bowl, blend until it is smooth and soft, which can take up to 5-7 minutes. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use. This will be used for both rings, so divide into two equal halves.
Stuff & Braid the Dough:
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. Wrap and return one half to the refrigerator. Roll the remaining dough into a 22×9 inch square on a floured surface. Cut dough lengthwise into 3 equal strips, 3 inches wide.
- Measure out 1/3 cup and roll into ropes, placing down the center of each strip.
- Fold over and pinch all edges together. If the dough is too floured, use a pastry brush with water to make it stick together.
- Braid the strips using a general braiding technique. Gently form into a circle with a 6-inch diameter center. Pinch ends together to connect.
- Place the ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a slightly moistened towel and set aside to rise for 45 minutes. Continue with second set of dough.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the pastry, without moistened covering, for 30 minutes. Every so often, spray a water bottle into the oven to create steam. If the top starts to brown too fast, place a leaf of aluminum foil over the top. Also consider rotating throughout baking to evenly brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Drizzle & Garnish:
- Whisk the powdered sugar, almond extract and half of the milk in a small bowl. Add remaining milk in small volumes until it is a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled pastry.
- While the icing is still tacky, decorate with candied cherries and/or sliced almonds.
- If you've tried this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!