14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, plus more for greasing the bowl
1 large egg
1/4 cup cold whole milk
2 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
4 medium sweet and tart apples, such as Braeburn (about 6 ounces each), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons water
Pearl sugar, for sprinkling, optional
To prepare the pastry, combine the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and water. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture until it is evenly moistened. Take care not to incorporate the butter. You want those butter pieces to stay whole. 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 overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, let the dough warm up for a minute or so. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a rectangle that’s about 8 by 15 inches, with a short side facing you. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. (Fold the top third down and the bottom third up over the top third.) Use a bench scraper to help lift and fold the dough if necessary. 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. Give the dough a quarter turn. Repeat this process two more times, dusting the work surface, your hands, and the rolling pin with flour as necessary. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes. Repeat the entire process again for a grand total of six turns. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, or up to overnight. If the dough starts to fight you and becomes too difficult to roll at any point along the way, just pop it in the fridge for an extra rest.
To prepare the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and stir to combine with a heatproof rubber spatula. Add the apples and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, all the juices have evaporated, and the sauce is lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Chill the apple filling until ready to assemble.
In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg yolk, cornstarch, and caraway seeds. Chill until ready to assemble.
In a small bowl, make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of water. Set aside.
On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll the dough into a 20-by-14-inch rectangle, with a short side facing you. With a bench scraper or the backside of a knife, very lightly mark a 3-inch section lengthwise down the center of the dough. Don’t cut through the dough, but make a guide for assembling the filling. Next, using the bench scraper or a knife, cut 2-inch strips, perpendicular to the lengthwise guidelines, on either side of the 3-inch section.
Spread the cream cheese mixture down the 3-inch wide center section of the pastry, leaving a small border on all sides. Top evenly with the apple mixture. Very lightly, brush a 1-inch border of the pastry with the egg wash.
To assemble, fold the top and bottom ends of the pastry to create a barrier for the filling. Then, fold each strip over the filling, alternating from left to right and moving toward the bottom. Using the parchment, move the filled pastry onto a baking sheet.
Let the dough rest until slightly puffed and the dough bounces back slowly when pressed lightly, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Gently brush the top and the sides of the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool slightly on the sheet.
To serve, slice using a serrated knife. This Danish is best the day it’s made, but leftovers can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Copyright by Samantha Seneviratne, adapted from the book “The New Sugar and Spice” (Ten Speed Press, 2015, a Division of Penguin Random House), used with permission.