Ever since I was a child, I remember my mother making the most amazing cheese danish. My grandmother made them as well. But the recipe didn’t start there. It started back in Vysoka, Czechoslovakia in a small house where my Great-Grandmother used to make it for my grandfather and his brother.
I have stories that my grandfather has written where he talks about his mother making the danish and how the smell would travel through the house. His mother would tell him and his brother not to touch the danish until they cooled off, but with their room so close to the kitchen, they couldn’t resist. When my mother used to make them, my father and I were the same way. As soon as the danish came out of the oven, we were there, waiting for the first one to taste. There’s just something so comforting and utterly delicious about these light, fluffy pillows of puff pastry and cheese.
Now I make them and have taught my children how to make them as well. I love the idea that they are now doing what generations have done before them. It’s those types of traditions that I hope they continue when they have their own children and I hope they share the stories as well. So much gets lost these days, that I try to maintain whatever traditions we have had in our family and cheese danish is one of them.
I will tell you, this is a labor intensive recipe, but oh so worth it! Plus, if you get the puff pastry part down, the sky is the limit for what other things you can make! You do have to follow the directions EXACTLY. When it calls for very cold butter, make sure you use very cold butter. When it says to place it in the refrigerator to cool, you have to do that. Especially if you live in a warm climate or it is warm in your house. If the butter starts melting, you will have a mess on your hands. I have NEVER used a mixer for this dough, so I cannot tell you how it would work if you did this in a Kitchen Aid. Those weren’t invented back when my Great-Grandmother was alive!
So, here we go! Homemade Slovakian Cheese Danish, soon to be made by YOU!
Homemade Slovakian Cheese Danish
Basic Danish Pastry Dough:
3 envelopes active dry yeast or 3 cakes compressed yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups sifted flour
3/4 pound (3 sticks) very cold butter
2 packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (in the box)
Real Lemon flavoring (in the lemon container or bottle)
Place cream cheese in a bowl and mash until softened. Add a few drops of lemon and a little bit of sugar at a time. You want the flavor to be slightly tart and sweet, but not too much.
1 jar of Simon Fischer Lekvar Prune Filling (usually found in the aisle with jams and jellies.
NOW TO MAKE THE DANISH!
1. Sprinkle or crumble yeast into very warm water in a large bowl. (comfortably warm when dripped on wrist) Stir until yeast dissolves, then stir in milk, egg, sugar, and salt.
2. Stir in 3 1/4 cups of flour, beating as you add, to make a soft dough. (set remaining 3/4 cup flour aside for next step) Beat dough vigorously about 2 minutes, or 300 strokes, or until shiny and elastic.
3. Sprinkle board, table, or counter with 2/3 of the remaining flour. Turn out the dough, form into a flat ball, sprinkle with remaining flour. Roll out to a rectangle approximately 12″ x 18″.
4. Slice VERY COLD BUTTER into thin strips lengthwise, place over 2/3 of dough to form a 12″ square.
5 Fold dough, brushing off excess flour each time this way. Fold unbuttered 1/3 over middle 1/3. then opposite and over top. Now fold into thirds crosswise to make a block, 6 x 4. It will be 9 layers deep. Repeat rolling and folding as above 3 more times while rolling. If dough becomes too soft, put in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, otherwise there is no need to chill. If butter oozes out while rolling and folding, ease it back in and spot area lightly with flour. Sometimes it’s necessary to use a little more flour while rolling out, than the recipe calls for. That’s a judgment call. Try to keep the dough as soft as possible and yet workable. When you’re finished with the rolling and folding, the dough is ready to shape, fill and bake!
6. Roll out the dough. If your work area is small, cut the dough in half and pinch cut top edges (top to bottom) together. Work 1/2 dough at a time. Roll out so that dough is thinner, about 24″ x 24″. Cut into squares with a knife. Fill as desired with about a teaspoon of filling.
7. For the prune or fruit filling, take one corner to the middle, opposite corner over the middle and tuck under to hold.
8. For the cream cheese, Make a pillow. All four corners to the middle one at a time and then pinch the last two together to hold them. If you want, you can cut up a maraschino cherry and place a piece in the center.
9. Place on trays for baking. (Parchment is highly recommended, otherwise grease pans!)
10. Cover and let rise until double in size or 1 hour. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg; can sprinkle sugar on top-although I never do! Place in preheated 375-400 degree and lower heat to 375 degrees immediately. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy them! I’d love to know if you tried to make them and whether you were able to resist eating them only after they cooled! Join me over on my Facebook page to let me know! If you want to see some videos of me making the keto version of these, head to The Blessed Keto Life on FB!