Hello! As much as I love cakes and cupcakes, sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a delicious pastry. Today, I’m sharing with you my newest, most favorite breakfast (and dessert!) recipe: Fig and Goat Cheese Danishes.
These danishes are light and airy, with layers upon layers of delicately crisp, yet flaky laminated pastry dough. Then, they’re filled with a tangy, creamy goat cheese filling, and topped with a fragrant, sweet fig spread. Perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning, or alongside a glass of vino at night — whenever, wherever, these danishes will hit the spot.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: homemade pastry has a bit of a tricky reputation — some even shy away from attempting it, saying that it’s too time-consuming or difficult to prepare perfectly. That’s not true, and this recipe will show you why:
- The actual “hands-on” time is quite short. Resting time (letting the dough chill in the refrigerator) actually takes up the majority of the recipe time total. This means that you have plenty of time to do whatever else your heart desires.
- Pastry isn’t neccesarily intricate or difficult; I’d call it… precise. In other words, as long as you carefully follow each step of the recipe as indicated, the process comes together easily — and you’ll be successful!
No matter if you’re a pro with yeasted pastry or a first-timer to dough lamination, I’ll walk you through each step of the recipe, breaking down the process into simple, clear steps. After all, once you have these homemade danishes, you’ll never go store-bought again!
How To Make Fig and Goat Cheese Danishes
Before setting out to bake, it’s important to make sure you have all of the necessary tools. First, I’ll provide a list of the materials you’ll need. Then, after that, I’ll walk you through the recipe tutorial, full of tricks and tips leading to success.
Don’t forget to read through the recipe once in full before preparing to bake! Most importantly, have fun!
Tools & Materials List
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First things first, you’ll need a kitchen scale for this recipe. As detailed in this post, it’s the most accurate way to measure ingredients (it’s also the easiest, since you can just dump everything in one bowl, using the tare feature after each addition.) I researched, tested, and developed this recipe using weight measurements, so, if at all possible, use those for the most accurate results!
- Stand or hand held mixer with dough hook(s)
- Small and medium heat proof mixing/storage bowls
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper
- Rolling pin
- Silicone baking mat
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Silione spatula
- Pizza cutter
- Silicone pastry brush
- Two, light-colored baking sheets
Fig and Goat Cheese Danish — Important Timing Notes
To ensure the success of your danishes, be sure to read through the recipe once in full before planning to bake. This process will take at least 13 hours. However, only about one and a half hours are active; the remaining time is for letting the dough chill, rest, and rise.
Alternatively, with strategic timing, you can split the process into two days. If you choose to do so, I’d recommend starting the process early in the evening. It will require about five hours, though, four of those hours are inactive/resting time. Then, the next morning, the process only takes up to one hour.
Fig and Goat Cheese Danish — Recipe
Fig and Goat Cheese Danishes
Danish Pastry Dough
- 2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 6 tbsp warm water (just warm, NOT hot to touch)
- 8 tbsp room-temperature milk
- 2 room-temperature eggs
- 2 tbsp melted and cooled butter
- 90 grams sugar; divided into 3 sections of 30 grams each
- 10 grams salt
- 390 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 cup slightly under room-temperature butter
Pastry Egg Wash
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp water
Goat Cheese Filling (*see note A below for substitution options)
- 4 oz goat cheese, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Fig Spread (*see note B below for substitution options)
- 1 lb fresh figs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup sweet red wine (sweeter the better)
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp milk (or more, to thin)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Danish Pastry Dough
- In your mixer bowl, place the active dry yeast, warm water, and just a pinch of sugar. (The water should feel lukewarm or warm — it should NOT be near hot.) Give it a small stir, and then let it sit for a few minutes (5-10) so the yeast can activate. You'll know it's ready when the surface looks bubbly.
- Then, add the room temperature milk, room temperature eggs, 2 tbsp of melted butter, 30 grams of sugar, salt, and flour. Mix with the dough attachment on low until it comes together (about 2 min), then continue kneading (with the dough hook/s) for 5-6 minutes.
- Cover the mixer bowl with some plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature while you complete the next step.
- Place the one cup of slightly under room temperature butter (softened, but not squishy yet) in between two sheets of parchment paper (essentially, you'll have a "sandwich" of parchment paper, with the butter in the middle.) I placed the sticks of butter a few inches apart from each other to make rolling easier. Roll the butter out until it’s just a few millimeters shorter than 7 inches by 12 inches. Try to make the shape as rectangular as possible, especially in the corners. If the parchment paper starts sticking or wrinkling too much (which it will), carefully peel it up to straighten it and replace it back on top of the butter before you continue rolling. I pulled the parchment paper layer up and set it back down a few times to roll the butter as evenly as possible.
- Flour your silicone baking mat and dump the dough onto it. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 7-inch by 18-inch rectangle. Again, try to make the shape as close to a strict rectangle as possible. Re-flour the rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking, and lift the dough occasionally to ensure it's not sticking to the mat, either.
- Carefully peel back the top layer of parchment paper from the butter rectangle. Then, picking the butter up from underneath the bottom layer of parchment paper, carefully flip it over and place the butter on the dough. Align one of the 7-inch long sides of butter against one of the 7-inch sides of the dough. As a result, two-thirds of the dough will be covered by butter, and one-third of the dough will remain uncovered. When it's perfectly in place, carefully peel away the parchment paper. If the butter starts pulling off of the dough, lay only that section of parchment back down, and rub it to adhere the butter to the dough, before trying again.
- Now, we begin the process of lamination. This means that we are creating ultra-thin alternating layers of butter and dough, by layering them, folding them, and rolling them out, and repeating that process. Each time you fold and roll is called a "turn." Keep in mind the mental image of the dough sectioned into "thirds" — it helps to imagine the creases of a folded and unfolded business letter. In this case, our dough is the "letter."So, to begin our first turn, fold the un-buttered "third" of the dough over onto the middle "third" of butter and dough. Then, fold the other side, or the remaining "third" of dough and butter, over onto the center (the dough, butter, and dough.) It will create a stack of alternating layers: dough, butter, dough, butter, and dough. It's the same process of folding a business letter, mentioned above. Pinch the edges to seal the butter in the dough.Then, cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for one hour.
- After your hour has elapsed, place the dough/butter stack back onto your floured silicone mat. Then, roll it out into a rectangle roughly 7-inches by 18-inches. Use caution to roll evenly so that you don't break through the dough. You want the butter and dough layers to remain intact, but become as thin and flat as possible.Then, fold the dough again in the same manner as before: fold one one-third section to the center, then fold the opposite one-third section to the center.Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour.
- The following repetition is not a typo — now, we'll complete the second turn. After your hour has elapsed, place the dough/butter stack back onto your floured silicone mat. Then, roll it out into a rectangle roughly 7-inches by 18-inches. Then, fold the dough again in the same manner as before: fold one one-third section to the center, then fold the opposite one-third section to the center.Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour.
- The following repetition is not a typo — now, we'll complete the third turn. After your hour has elapsed, place the dough/butter stack back onto your floured silicone mat. Then, roll it out into a rectangle roughly 7-inches by 18-inches. Then, fold the dough again in the same manner as before: fold one one-third section to the center, then fold the opposite one-third section to the center.Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour.
- After your hour has elapsed, this time, sprinkle your work surface with about half of the remaining sugar. Then, lay the dough/butter stack on top. Again, roll it out into a rectangle roughly 7-inches by 18-inches. Before folding for the final time, sprinkle the dough with the remaining sugar. Then, fold the dough again in the same manner as before: fold one one-third section to the center, then fold the opposite one-third section to the center.Wrap in plastic loosely and refrigerate once more, this time for a slow-rise: anywhere from 8 hours to overnight will do — whatever works best for your schedule.
- Once your fillings are completed, and the dough has risen in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight, it's time to fill them and bake!Flour your work surface once more, then roll out the dough to a 12-inch by 16-inch rectangle. Use your pastry cutter to cut out 12, 4-inch squares. If it helps, you can make score marks, first — every four inches around the pastry. It will create a 4×3 grid, composed of the 4-inch squares.
- Take one of the danish squares and flatten or roll it out just a bit more into a five-inch square, if possible. Position it in front of you so that the corners are pointing up, down, left, and right. Following along the left sides, make a long, arrow-shaped cut a little less than a half-inch in from the edge, like this symbol: "<". The cut should NOT go all the way to the top or bottom "points" of the square. Pull it out a bit to stretch the dough away from the danish ever so slightly, making sure it doesn't tear at the top or bottom "points." Then, repeat the process on the right side, creating an arrow-shaped cut like this symbol: ">". Next, brush the outer edge of the dough (the newly cut areas) with some egg wash. Carefully lift up the left edge and fold it over the center of the pastry, placing it down on the inside of the cut area on the right side. Press it down to adhere. Repeat the process with the right side, folding it over the pastry and adhering it down on the left side. This creates a beautiful twist design at the top and bottom of the pastry and a barrier in which you can place your filling so it doesn't run out of the center. Then, press the center of the danish down, or pull the edges out slightly, to flatten the middle area, making it thinner. This way, you have more room to add your fillings. Repeat this process for all of your danishes.
- Now, add a layer of the goat cheese filling to the center of the danish, and top it with some of your fig jam. Be generous with your fillings, but don't overfill them, or they will run out and off of your danishes during baking. Brush the top of the pastry dough edges with some egg wash.
- Place the danishes a few inches apart on two lightly colored and parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. You'll want to give the danishes room to expand. Cover them lightly with a greased piece of plastic wrap, and let them rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes while your oven preheats. At this point, start your oven preheating to 425°F.
- After the 30 minutes have elapsed and your oven is preheated, place the danishes in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Be sure not to overcook the danishes — pay careful attention to the undersides to make sure they're not burning.
- Transfer the danishes to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Then, use a spoon, a plastic bag with a corner cut off, or a piping bag to drizzle the glaze over the danishes.
Pastry Egg Wash
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg white and water.
Goat Cheese Filling
- If not already, soften the cream cheese and goat cheese. You can do so by heating it in the microwave on the defrost setting (or, 50% power) at 10-second intervals, rotating the cheeses in between each until you can easily indent it.
- Then, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until even. You don't need to use a beater for this, but you can if you want.
- Refrigerate for up to one day, letting it come to room temperature (or a spreadable consistency) again before using.
- Chop your figs into half-inch pieces and add them along with the sugar to your pan. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes off of the heat, stirring occasionally, to draw out the juice (until the sugar starts to dissolve) if the figs are hard.
- Turn the heat to medium, and add the lemon juice and wine. Stir occasionally, letting the mixture come to a boil, then simmering until thickened (about 20 minutes.)
- Remove the mixture from heat, and sieve it into a clean bowl to remove any skins and some of the larger seeds. Wipe out the pan, and return the sieved mixture to it.
- In a small bowl, make a slurry with the cornstarch and water. Add it to the fig jam, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil to activate the cornstarch. Then, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer and thicken more (for about 2-3 minutes.)
- Pour the fig spread into a heat-proof bowl or dish, and let it cool. Once cooled, you can store it, covered well, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Melt the butter.
- Then, combine the butter with the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Stir and add another tsp or two of milk if it's too thick. Let it cool to thicken.
- Stir again before glazing danishes. Since the glaze hardens/crusts, I don't recommend making it in advance.
Enjoy your fig and goat cheese danishes! I hope you had a blast making these — and that you enjoyed eating them, too! I know we sure did!
PLEASE feel free to leave me a comment with any questions, and do the same after you make these as well — I appreciate your feedback SO much!
If you’re looking for another fun pastry idea, be sure to check out my homemade pie crust guide, here! In it, I link to my fool-proof apple pie recipe, too. It’s a winner — and highly requested — every fall!!
And, if you liked this post, be sure to find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch! I love to share blog teasers, snippets of my daily life, and behind-the-scenes shots, too! I’ll be posting a Reel soon showing the pastry-making method, for follow along so you don’t miss it!
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