Though scrolling through the recipe might seem intimidating at first, take a deep breath, breathe deeply, and look through it again, step by step. Allow enough time to tackle the dough to perfection (it took us the whole day!) and be prepared to wow your friends and family with the most delicious homemade pastry you’ve ever baked! With a walnut base, a spiced pear topping, and an apricot glaze, it’s hard to not want to become a pastry chef just to be able to eat this every day!
pear and walnut danish pastry recipe instructions
If you’ve ever thought that you couldn’t make pastry dough by yourself, you’re in for a delicious surprise! Flaky, buttery, and perfectly light, this recipe will make you feel like the top chef that you are!
- 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface and the rolling pin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, roughly cubed
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup cold milk
- 1 teaspoon cardamom (we used a garam masala spice blend)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 pears
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves, for glaze
To make the dough:
- Combine the flour, granulated sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and stir with a fork to combine. The butter should be the size of small marbles and peas, use your hands to cut butter if necessary.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and 2 tablespoons water.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir the mixture until it is evenly moistened. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a small rectangle, and wrap well. Chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 2 days.
- On a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to an 8-by-15-inch rectangle. With a short side facing you, fold the dough in thirds like a letter, bringing the top third of the dough down, then folding the bottom third up. At this point, the dough will be rough and shaggy with visible butter pieces; as you roll and fold the dough it will come together. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat the rolling and folding process, then rotate the dough once more and roll and fold again. You will roll the dough out a total of three times at this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Repeat the rolling and folding process one more time for six rotations. Rewrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
To make the pastry:
- To prepare the pear filling, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Add the pears and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Transfer the pears to a plate and let the mixture cool completely.
- Use a coffee grinder to blend the walnuts to a fine meal. Transfer the walnut meal to a medium bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture until it becomes a paste.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll the dough into an 11-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to an oiled or buttered baking sheet. Arrange so the short side is facing you. With the backside of a knife, very lightly mark off a 3-inch section lengthwise down the center of the dough. Cut strips perpendicular to the lengthwise guidelines (on either side of the 3-inch section) spaced 1 inch apart. (These strips will be folded over the filling to become the braided top).
- Spread the walnut mixture down the 3-inch section of the pastry, leaving about an 1/8-inch border on all sides. Top evenly with the pear mixture, leaving any accumulated liquid on the plate. Make sure not to pile the pear mixture too high, as the strips will strain to cover a filling that is too high and could open up during baking.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl. Very lightly, brush a 1-inch border around the edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg.
- Starting at the top, fold each strip in at a slightly downward angle over the filling, alternating from left to right. Make sure the strips are overlapping by about 1/2 inch over the filling in the center so they don’t open up while baking.
- Cover the pastry loosely with plastic wrap and let rest until slightly puffed, about 1 hour. Note the thickness of the strips when you first set it aside and use their growth as a guide. It’s ready when the dough bounces back slowly when pressed lightly. (If it bounces back too fast, it hasn’t risen enough; if it doesn’t bounce back at all, it’s gone too far).
- Gently brush the top and sides of the pastry with some of the remaining beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes then rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake until deep golden brown and puffed, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, make the apricot glaze. Heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan, stirring, until loose. Brush a thin coat of apricot glaze over the warm pastry. Let cool slightly before serving.