Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish

If you're as big a fan as we are of the pumpkin and cream cheese combination, we can't recommend this flaky, buttery pastry more highly. The laminated dough is a bit of a process, but your pounding, rolling, and waiting will be rewarded with rich, tender pastries — perfect for enjoying when autumn mornings require a little something extra with your coffee.

1 hr
18 to 20 mins
13 hrs 50 mins
1 dozen Danish
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish - select to zoom
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish - select to zoom
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish - select to zoom
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish - select to zoom


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  1. To prepare the sponge: Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. Beat together the egg and water then add the sugar, flour, and yeast. Mix until well blended. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

  2. To make the dough: Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. When the sponge is ready, combine the sugar, 1 1/4 cups of the flour, dry milk, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

  3. Stir the vanilla and 1 tablespoon melted butter into the sponge mixture, then add the dry ingredients. Mix and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms, adding the additional 1/4 cup of flour if necessary. Pat the dough into a square on a greased baking sheet, wrap it well, and refrigerate overnight.

  4. To prepare the butter: The next day, place the butter in the center of a lightly floured piece of plastic wrap. If you're using two sticks of butter, place them side by side. Pound the butter with a rolling pin until you have a rough 6" square. Use the plastic wrap to make the edges straight and even. Wrap the butter and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

  5. To laminate the dough: Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 9" square; it doesn't have to be exact. Unwrap the chilled square of butter and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square. Fold the sides of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.

  6. Dust the top of the dough parcel with a little flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough to make sure it isn't sticking underneath, dusting with more flour if necessary, then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 14" long by 7" wide. Brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like a business letter). Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they're directly on top of each other. Use a dab of water, if necessary, to get the corners to stick together. This is the first "turn."

  7. Rotate the dough parcel 90° to the right — it'll look like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cool and relaxed, roll and turn it as instructed in the previous step, then wrap it loosely and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If the dough is springing back when you try to roll it, wrap it loosely and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Ultimately the dough should be folded and turned four times, so allow it to rest in the refrigerator as many times as necessary to achieve that.

  8. Once the four turns have been completed, wrap the dough loosely and refrigerate it for 60 to 90 minutes.

  9. To make the filling: In a small bowl combine the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, ClearJel or flour, and salt. Set aside.

  10. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the pumpkin and flavor, and beat again until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients. Set aside.

  11. To shape the Danish: Roll the dough into a 14" x 16" rectangle; if the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest and relax, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

  12. Trim the edges of the dough on every side using a ruler and pizza wheel. This cuts off the folded edges that would inhibit the pastry from rising fully.

  13. Spread the filling over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2" bare strip along one of the long edges. Brush the bare strip with a little water. Beginning with the covered long edge, roll the dough into a log.

  14. Cut the log into 12 slices and place them on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.

  15. Cover the Danish and let them rest/rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425°F.

  16. Brush the Danish with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.

  17. Bake the Danish (one pan at a time, or in two ovens) for 18 to 20 minutes, until they're a deep golden brown.

  18. Remove the Danish from the oven and cool on a rack.

  19. To prepare the topping: Melt the caramel over low heat in a small saucepan or in the microwave, heating and stirring until smooth. Drizzle some of the warm caramel over each Danish.

  20. Store Danish in a plastic bag or an airtight container at room temperature for a day; or wrap well and freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to use fresh pumpkin purée rather than canned? It’s simple to make your own; see how it’s done.