Do you want to make this Amish butter-braided pastry at home? You might have been intimated by the delicate and intricate-looking Danish pastry displayed at your local bakery.
Every time you bite through the flaky layers of Danish pastry, tangy cream cheese and a sweet fruit filling you savor the bite indeed.
So why not try making it at home? After gleaning through many recipe books, I got this great recipe in an Amish and Mennonite cookbook.
Though originally from Denmark, the Amish adopted this beautiful pastry and made it popular. If you visit the Amish, you will come across this butter-braided pastry.
With a little practice and following the tips, you will become an expert in making the Amish butter-braided pastry.
What Are Danish Pastries?
Danish pastries are famous for their flakiness and unique battery taste. A legend from France has it that Danish Pastry originated from a mistake.
The baker forgot to add butter to the flour. He later added probably cold butter and the results amazed his employers and clients.
When the dough was baked it turned out light, flaky with so many layers. Danish pastry is versatile, it is suitable for making a wide range of both savory and sweet dishes.
Making Danish pastries requires a bit of time but the delightful results are worth the effort.
I prefer making the dough in the evening and chilling it in the fridge overnight. When the butter is cold, the layers formed will be more distinct making the pastry flaky and puffy.
This dough is leavened by yeast and will require time to rise as well. Yeast gives the Danish pastry a distinct flavor making them irresistible.
A little folding and rolling will increase the number of layers too. Always remember to give it a glossy finish by coating the pastry with a beaten egg before baking.
The shiny appearance is characteristic of the pastry. Let us look at what is required to make this decadent butter-braided pastry or Danish pastry.
Why I Love Amish Recipes
Amish recipes are very simple and call for ingredients that are easy to find. I love Amish farm sales and whenever I go to buy vintage items, I always carry with me several Amish and Mennonite recipe books.
It is good to know about these people whom the recipe is named after! The Amish are a group of conservative religious people who migrated from Europe to America in search of freedom of worship.
They settled in several parts of America, their largest community found in Lancaster, PA.
They are peace-loving people who live secluded lives and most of them do not use modern conveniences such as vehicles, electricity, phones, and colored clothes.
In some places, they are called the plain people. They hold dearly to traditions handed down from their fathers.
The Amish have a culture of sharing meals after every service on Sundays. The women will clean, cook and prepare to host a large group of believers.
They strive to make delicious meals and this is why they have perfected the art of cooking. It is hard to drive past a bakery in Amish country. The wafting scent of baked goods is very inviting.
All-purpose flour is good enough for this recipe. However, pastry flour can be used instead.
Yeast is the leavening agent in this recipe. Yeast feeds on the sugars in the pastry dough, releasing carbon dioxide. This gas makes the dough rise. The yeast flavor tastes great in the pastry dough.
Eggs add moisture to the dough. Eggs enrich the dough with proteins and make the dough very soft and silky.
Moisturizes the dough, water can be substituted with milk. Milk will enrich your pastry with flavor and nutrients.
Sugar sweetens the pastry dough. You can replace sugar with a healthier sweetener such as honey or stevia powder.
Cold butter is a special ingredient, when it is cold it will create layers in the pastry. Butter can be replaced by shortening or pastry margarine.
Cream cheese adds a unique tangy flavor to the braided pastry. It sweetened with powdered sugar balancing the almost tangy and sweet flavor.
You can use your choice of fruit filling, make sure your filling is not runny like mine. Cinnamon and sugar can be used in place of fruit filling too.
Salt complements perfectly with other flavors in the pastry dough.
Pastry blender or food processor
You can cut the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse sand.
You need a mixing bowl to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients.
Rolling pin rolls out the dough.
A pastry cutter is used to cut the pastry dough before braiding. A sharp knife can be used as well to cut the dough.
A bench scraper divides the pastry dough into two parts.
FAQ AMISH BUTTER BRAIDED PASTRY
Why is my Amish butter-braided pastry crumbly and not flaky?
Making perfect pastry requires a lot of practice and patience. The trick here is how cold your butter is.
Make sure to chill as recommended in the recipe. Try and fold as many times as you want to get many distinct layers.
How can I keep my Amish butter-braided pastry fresh?
Since this recipe contains some fresh fruit, it is highly recommended to store the braided pastry in the refrigerator.
Wrap the leftovers with a plastic wrap then keep them in the refrigerator for about 3 days. These Danish delights freeze easily. Wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-friendly bag. The braided pastry can stay in the freezer for 2 months.
Always check on the freshness of your yeast
If your yeast has expired, your pastry dough will not rise. You can carry out a simple test by mixing a teaspoon of yeast, sugar in half a cup of warm water.
Set aside for 7 to 8 minutes. If you find froth on top of the mixture then your yeast is active and good for use.
Handle the proofed dough careful
Once you have braided the pastry and let it rise for the second time, remember to handle it with care. If you band the tray on the kitchen surface or while placing them in the oven, the braided pastry might collapse and lose the air inside.
Do not let salt and yeast come in close contact.
This dough is leavened by yeast which are living organisms. When yeast and salt come in close contact, the yeast will be made inactive.
Mix the yeast into the flour and once distributed, add the salt.
How to make the cream cheese filling
Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, add the powdered sugar, and mix well.
You can use a fruit filling of your choice. Berries of any kind add a unique fruity flavor to the Amish butter-braided pastry.
If you have not made a fruit filling, sprinkle whole berries such as strawberries on the layer of cream cheese.
The results will still be delicious.
Amish Butter Braided Pastry
- 2 cups Cups All purpose flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2 teaspoon Yeast
- 1 cup Water
- ½ cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups Cream cheese
- 1 cup Powdered sugar
- 2 cups Fruit filling or fresh fruit
- Cut the cold butter into the flour until the flour has the appearance of coarse sand. You can use a food processor or a pastry cutter.
- Once you have checked the freshness of your yeast, add the yeast, and sugar into the flour and mix until fully incorporated.
- Add the salt and mix well. Into the flour mixture, add the water and the lightly beaten eggs. Use a wooden spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredients.
- Form a shaggy ball of dough, do not overwork the pastry dough. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- While the pastry dough is chilling, prepare the cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture and fruits or fruit filling.
- On a clean well-floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces using a bench scraper. Roll out each piece into a rectangle measuring 30cm by 15cm. Use a pastry cutter to outline where you will spread the cream cheese.
- Spread the cream cheese in the middle of the rectangle. Spread the filling or fruits on top of the cream cheese layer.
- Cut diagonal stripes on either side of the rectangle as shown in the picture. Weave or braid the pastry dough by crossing the strips, one on top of the other.
- Place the braided pastry on a tray and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Use a pastry brush to coat the braided pastries with egg wash.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. Bake the braided pastries for 40 minutes, till they turn golden brown. When tapped, the braided pastry should sound hollow.
- Let the braided Danish pastries cool before slicing.