Danish Christmas Tree

Danish Pastry Wreath

Danish Pastry Wreath

by Cat, Dec 2012 (photo, right, from Blame it on the Food.com (1)

Despite its Weinerbrød name that reflects Vienna, Danish pastry probably has its roots in the cuisine of Paris – as the Danish royalty selected their castle chefs from amongst the best of Paris. Danish pastry is very similar to French pastries like croissants and palmiers. All involve the creating of very thin layers of dough separated by very thin layers of butter.

But the Danes added their own ‘twist’ to the tradition: twisting the dough into braids to form wreaths – or in this case, trees.

This pastry uses yet a third method to form the pastry (see Danish Pastry for the other two methods. While it doesn’t include a filling for the twists, I would like an almond paste filling: spread it on the rolled rectangle before folding in half and forming into twist.

I’ve not yet tested this recipe, tho I have made croissants many times, so am familiar with the technique.

Danish Christmas Tree (Danish Pastry or Wienerbrød)

A good friend from my college days  sent me her Mother-in-Law’s recipe (2). Well, sort of. The MIL never wrote it down, so her granddaughter watched her make it and wrote down what she observed. Some of the amounts were a little sketchy, so I’ve made my best guess. I’ve adapted it to more natural ingredients that I use (instead of white sugar, margarine and nonfat milk).

This recipe doesn’t have a filling. It is formed in a tree shape, with candied cherries at the tips of the ‘branches’ as ornaments.

While I have permission from D. Chapman to use her family recipe on my website, please note that the measurements are my best guess; you may have to play with them a bit.

It takes a lot of flour to make this treat; if too much, cut the recipe in half and make a smaller tree.

I’ve not tested this yet, but will at some point, and clarify the ingredient amounts.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Dough:
  • 1 cup melted butter (2 cubes)
  • 2 cups Rapadura or white cane sugar plus about ¼ tsp for proofing yeast
  • about 1 Tbsp Unrefined sea salt
  • approximately 4 cups raw or pasteurized whole milk- not ultra pasteurized (original recipe indicates: fill small, 1-qt size Revere Ware saucepan to just below the rim)
  • 20 cardamom seeds, crushed very fine (or about ¼ tsp fresh ground cardamom)
  • 3 whole eggs from local, pastured hens
  • 1 package baker’s yeast
  • 9 – 10 cups unbleached white flour, divided, plus more for kneading (or mix of whole wheat and white flour)
  • Baking & decoration:
  • 1 egg, beaten (from local, pastured hen)
  • pearl sugar
  • green sprinkles
  • red candied cherries
  • Equipment:
  • heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan
  • small and large bowls
  • cotton cloth
  • 2 cookie sheets


  1. Rising chamber for dough: Preheat oven to 170° F (or if you have a gas oven with pilot light, you don’t need to heat it – it should be warm enough from the pilot)
  2. Dough:Melt butter and pour into large mixing bowl with salt and sugar.
  3. Scald milk in saucepan over medium heat; add to bowl.
  4. Proof yeast in a mug of hot water with a small amount of sugar.
  5. Beat eggs in small bowl.
  6. When milk mixture has cooled to about 105° F, add 1 cup white flour, beaten eggs, cardamom and the frothy yeast. Stir until mixed.
  7. Work in remaining 8 – 9 cups flour (white, or mix of whole wheat and white).
  8. First knead: Dust bread board with lots of flour; turn out dough and knead until firm.
  9. Rise: Wash out bowl and fill with hot water. Dump out the water, dry bowl quickly and grease it with oil. Put dough in bowl, grease the top with more oil, then cover with damp cloth.
  10. Off oven and place bowl of dough inside. Let rise until over the brim, about 1 hour.
  11. Remove from oven and punch down in bowl. Let sit 10 minutes with cover on.
  12. Second knead: Turn out onto floured board and knead again.
  13. Shape: Roll into long ropes (or twist as for Danish Pastry Wreaths) and arrange ropes/twist on greased cookie sheets to form a tree shape (see sketch below). Or, if you wish to add a filling, spread it thinly on the rolled pastry in this step, then fold the pastry over and roll lightly; then form rope or twist and form this into the tree shape Makes 2 trees.
    Christmas Tree Shape

    Christmas Tree Shape


  14. Second rise: Preheat oven to 400° F while trees rise on cookie sheets.
  15. Brush with 1 beaten egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and green sprinkles. Place candied cherries on edges of the tree (like ornaments.
  16. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  17. Cool on rack before serving or wrapping for gifts.


  1. Blame it on the Food.com (blameitonthefood.com/tag/danish-pastry) NOTE: currently seeking permission to use the photo
  2. D. Chapman’s Mother-in-Law’s traditional recipe

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