Easy Cheese Danish – Let the Baking Begin!


 

Cheese Danish is a pillowy soft breakfast pastry that’s perfect for eating any time of day. A rich cream cheese filling topped with an easy streusel recipe made this one of my most shared Instagram posts of all time! It’s fantastic.

If you love cheese Danish, you’ve also got to try my Hot Cross Buns, Easter Bread Recipe, and these amazing Apricot Almond Pastries. Yum!

Baking dish filled with freshly made cheese danish, some with strawberry filling.

Breakfast Pastries

I’ll admit it – it isn’t very often that I enjoy breakfast pastries. Mornings are quite too often a hectic rush at our home. I’m much more likely to eat a bowl of oatmeal or a chunk of farmer’s cheese and toast.

However, isn’t the point of the weekends to slow down and do all the fun things we don’t get to do during the week? Why not set aside one morning to make a batch of fresh breakfast pastries? I guarantee these will drive your family straight to the breakfast table once they get a whiff!

Make creating breakfast pastries a part of your Saturday morning routine. You won’t regret it! I’ve found this is a great activity to do with my girls and teach them one of my favorite things in the world…baking. It makes for a fun (and delicious) way to pass the morning. 🙂

Close up of breakfast pastries with a cream cheese center and streusel topping on a white plate.

They’re so, so soft and fluffy!

Cream Cheese Danish

One of my favorite recipes to bake is this cream cheese Danish. I sometimes call these cheesecake buns, but they are so similar to a Danish that my family uses the term interchangeably.

The cream cheese Danish is known for it’s characteristic sweet and slightly tart cheesecake-like filling. This recipe is no exception!

In fact, the filling is what makes this treat so good. It’s easy to make and contains just three ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Whip them together until smooth and you’ll be amazed at how delicious the simple combination becomes!

Cream cheese danish before baking with freshly made cream cheese filling.

Pastry Dough

On the other hand, I’m not giving this recipe justice if I don’t stop to talk about the pastry dough. I often see people use pre-made dough for recipes like this. That’s fine in a pinch, but I highly encourage you to make your own, delicious, highly enriched pastry dough if you have the time!

It’s not hard to make (mixer does all the work for you), and the end result is so worth it. This dough makes pillow-like, perfectly airy pastries that your teeth can sink into.

Another reason I really like this pastry dough recipe is that this dough is also super versatile. You can use it to make any kind of pastries, rolls or sweet breads. I’ve made poppy seed rolls, apple-filled piroshky and even Challah type bread with this pastry dough.

Woman pulling apart the pastry dough with a freshly baked cream cheese danish.

Tips for Making the Cheese Danish Pastry

  • Make sure the butter is softened. If your butter is too firm, it will crumble and disperse unevenly. Melted butter will not give you the correct consistency. Let your butter sit out for a few hours before baking with it to get it softened..
  • Use good flour: high protein all-purpose flour like Canadian Flour or King Arthur’s flour is your best friend when making pastries. Otherwise, use any other regular all-purpose flour.
  • Use Red Star platinum yeast is possible: it’s highly forgiving, so if you’re not much of a baker with this yeast your chances of extraordinary perfection are very high.
  • Use a scale: Use it not just for weighing your ingredients (to get consistent good results), but to divide the dough into equal pieces which will help with even baking of the cheese danishes .
  • Brush your dough with egg yolk before baking. This adds shine and will enhance the golden color of the cheese Danish pastry.
  • Choose your toppings. The basic recipe below for the cheese Danish pastry doesn’t include this, but if you like you can add a few frozen cherries to the hallowed center along with the cheesecake filling before baking. You can also top it with slivered almonds.

Rows of cheese danish pastries baked on a metal baking dish. Several of the pastries have cherry-cheesecake filling while others have simply cream cheese filling.

For detailed recipe instructions see the recipe card bottom of the post.

1. Before starting, ensure that your yeast is active by combining yeast, milk, sugar and then allowing it to proof.

2. The kneading process of the dough can be done either in a bowl of a stand mixer or by hand. Your choice. Either way, you’ll want to knead all the ingredients except for the butter until the dough is fairly smooth. Lastly, you’ll add the butter and continue kneading until it’s tacky to touch and stretchy without tearing.

3. Next is the proofing process. I preheat my oven for 3 minutes at 250F, then turn it off and set my bowl with the dough in there.

4. While the dough is proofing, you’ll make the cream cheese filling, egg wash, and the streusel topping.

5. Once doubled, punch down the dough and divide it into 16 equal pieces. Shape into balls and make an indentation with a bottom of the glass in the middle.

6. Fill each indentation with cream cheese filling. You can also add a teaspoon of jam to the middle of cream cheese filling or sprinkle with plumped up raisins if you wish. Now allow the danishes to proof until doubled in size.

7. Brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle with the prepared streusel and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Easy Cheese Danish

This simple Cheese Danish recipe is the perfect breakfast pastry to make for the entire family. The pillowy soft dough is filled with a cheesecake-like topping, then topped with a sugar streusel before baking – yum!

Pastry Dough:

  • 1
    cup
    warm milk
  • 2
    tsp
    active dried yeast
    (Platinum Superiror Baking Yeast is the best)
  • 4
    egg yolks
  • 2
    Tbsp
    sour cream
  • 1/3
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 3
    cups
    all-purpose flour
    (high protein flour like the Canadian Flour or King Arthur Bread Flour is best)
  • 1/4
    tsp
    kosher salt
  • 3
    oz
    unsalted butter
    , room temperature

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 1/3
    cup
    of cream cheese
  • 1/2
    cup
    of sugar
  • 1
    tsp
    of vanilla
  • 1/2
    cup
    jam of choice (*Note 1)
    (optional); strawberry, peach and apricot are our favorite

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/3
    cup
    of flour
  • 1/3
    cup
    of sugar
  • 3
    tbsp
    of melted butter
  1. Check the yeast: If you’re unsure if your yeast is fresh and active, combine the yeast with 2-3 tablespoons of the milk from the overall amount and 1 tsp of sugar from the overall amount. Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Allow to proof for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture should rise and look frothy. If it does not, discard the yeast and do not start until you have good, active yeast.

  2. Make the Pastry Dough: In a bowl of a stand mixer mix the remainder of the 1 cup of warm milk, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 4 egg yolks, 2 tbsp of sour cream, remainder of 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 tsp of dried active yeast (or the frothy yeast mixture if you had to do step 1), and 3 cups flour together on the 3rd speed of a mixer for about ten minutes.

  3. Add butter & knead: Add 3/4 stick of softened butter to the dough mixture in quarters and knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the wall, and feels tacky to touch. If you stretch the dough, you should be able to form a thin film without it tearing.

  4. Let rise until doubled: Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl, then cover the outside of the dough with some oil as well. This will keep it from cracking and drying as it rises. Cover the bowl with a tea towel. It is best to set the dough in a warm place (between 80°F-90°F). I turn the oven to 250°F for 3 minutes, then turn it off and set my bowl with dough inside the oven with the oven light on. Top of the refrigerator or any other warm, draft-free place will work as well.

  5. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese filling: Whip together 1⅓ cup of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla until smooth. Cover and set aside.

  6. Make the streusel topping: Combine 1/3 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 3 tbsp of melted butter with a fork or hands until crumbly. Refrigerate until later.

  7. Make the egg wash: Whisk together with a fork 2 egg yolks and 1 tbsp of water. Cover and set aside.

  8. Divide & shape the pastry dough. Once the dough is doubled, punch it down. Next, divide the pastry dough into 15-16 equal pieces. The most accurate way to do that is to weigh your dough, then divide the total by 16.

  9. Shape each piece of dough into a ball by tucking the ends underneath itself until you get a smooth surface on top. Set the rolled danish buns on a 12″x18″ foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, evenly spacing each piece of dough. If you would rather have the buns not touch, divide the danish pastries between two 12″x18″ baking sheets. Let rest for 10 minutes, then dip the bottom of a glass or a cup into flour and press with it in the middle of each bun to form an indentation.

  10. Fill with cream cheese filling: Use a medium ice cream scoop to fill each indentation with 1 scoop of cheesecake filling. Otherwise, just spoon the cream cheese filling with a regular spoon. If you would like to add some jam to the middle as well, use a teaspoon to spoon 1 tsp of jam or preserves in the middle of the cheesecake mixture.

  11. Let rise until doubled: Put the baking pan with the filled danishes back into the oven (with the heat off, oven light on) or top of the fridge. The danishes should double in size in about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  12. Brush with egg wash & top with streusel: Once the dough has doubled, brush the outside of the danishes with the egg wash, then sprinkle generously with streusel pressing gently to adhere it if needed.

  13. Bake: In a preheated to 350°F degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until the outside is golden in color. Then, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly before enjoying.