Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

This elegant Danish Braid is filled with a soft cream cheese and cranberry filling, sprinkled with citrus sugar to create a light sugar crust, and drizzled with a tart lemon glaze. It’s a beautiful, impressive looking treat, but it’s actually pretty easy to make. 

Update: I’m excited to share the news that my recipe won first place in the Hodgson Mill “Have a Grain Holiday!” Recipe Contest! I hope you’ll give it a try.

Hodgson Mill invited me to participate in their baking challenge, “Have a Grain Holiday!” Recipe Contest! They challenged bloggers to create great-tasting, healthier treats for holiday gatherings or gift-giving made with all-natural Hodgson Mill flour and sent me packages of Hodgson Mill Bread Flour and Hodgson Whole Wheat Flour.

Hodgson Mill Bread Flour is a high protein, high gluten flour for lighter, fluffier breads and the Hodgson Whole Wheat Flour is stone ground and uses the entire natural bran and germ preserving all of the grain’s natural nutrients and great taste.

I decided to create a great-tasting, healthier Danish Braid using whole wheat flour and eliminating the 2 sticks of butter traditionally rolled in to the Danish Braid dough. This is such a wonderful, flavorful dough, and the filling and toppings are so fabulous, you’ll never miss that extra fat.

Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid


  • 1 cup Hodgson Mill whole wheat flour
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups Hodgson Mill bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
  • 1 package rapid rise (instant) yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Cream Cheese Filling
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Citrus Sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Egg Wash
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Lemon Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


Mix whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cup bread flour, wheat gluten, and yeast in stand mixer fitted with a beater blade.

Heat milk, orange juice and butter until butter melts and mixture is warm (120º to 130º). Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved.

Add liquid mixture to flour mixture. Add egg, vanilla, and orange zest and beat at low speed until well combined.

Switch to the dough hook, on speed 2 gradually add the remaining bread flour (add more or less as necessary) until dough clings to the hook and almost cleans the sides. Knead until smooth about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball. Place in greased bowl, turn. Cover, let rise until double approximately 60 – 90 minutes.

While dough is rising make cream cheese filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and egg yolk until smooth. Don’t over mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.

While dough is rising make citrus sugar: In a small bowl, mix sugar, lemon zest and orange zest until well blended.

Punch dough down, let rest 10 minutes before shaping.

On a lightly floured work surface, silpat, or parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. If the dough shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.

Along one long side of the dough make parallel, 4-inch-long cuts with a pizza cutter or sharp knife 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

Spoon the cream cheese filling down the center of the rectangle. Leaving 1 inch on the top and bottom unfilled. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top of cream cheese filling.

Cut off the first two strips of dough on each side on the top and bottom of the rectangle. Fold the top and bottom flaps over the filling to cover. Begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling at an angle, alternating left, then right until finished. Trim excess dough leaving enough to tuck the ends underneath the braid. Transfer to baking sheet.

Cover. Let rise until double, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375º.

Make egg wash by mixing egg white with 2 teaspoons water and lightly brush some of it over the top of the braid.

Sprinkle citrus sugar evenly over the top of the braid.

Bake on baking sheet for 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Prepare Lemon Glaze

In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle glaze over braid.

Hodgson Mill wants to help you create great-tasting, healthier treats too and is offering a $25 gift certificate redeemable at the Hodgson Mill online store to one Barbara Bakes’ reader. Details on how to enter are listed below the recipe. Good luck!

Giveaway: Closed

Update: The winner of the $25 Hodgson Mill gift certificate is Laurie, Cookin’ Up North. Congratulations! Have fun shopping. Thank you to everyone who entered for your sweet comments and welcome to all the new followers!

Hodgson Mill is helping to spread some holiday cheer to Barbara Bakes readers by offering a $25 gift certificate redeemable at the Hodgson Mill online store to one lucky winner.

Here’s How To Enter:

Leave a comment on this post before Wednesday, December 15th at noon, MST.

For extra entries:

  • Tweet this giveaway. Here’s a sample tweet you could use: Win a $25 gift certificate to @HodgsonMillInc via @BarbaraBakes
  • Follow @BarbaraBakes on Twitter
  • Like Barbara Bakes on Facebook.
  • Subscribe to Barbara Bakes
  • Like Hodgson Mill on Facebook
  • Follow @HodgsonMillInc on Twitter

Leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway is only open to residents of the US. Be sure your email address is included with your comment(s). Winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond.

For another chance to win great Hodgson Mill products: You can also visit Hodgson Mill for a chance to win a Hodgson Mill Baker’s Gift Pack valued at $85.

I baked this braid for a Utah food bloggers brunch and cookie exchange held to raise funds for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded by a mom inspired by her son’s fight against cancer. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is committed to raising funds to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer. Visit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to learn how you can help.

Thanks to all those who organized, participated and companies that supported this fun fundraising event. Utah food bloggers are amazing people as well as amazing cooks/bakers.

Don't miss out on a new recipe. Subscribe to Barbara Bakes by Email

Some of the links in my posts may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting Barbara Bakes when you shop!

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram or Twitter with #BarbaraBakes.


    Leave a Comment:

  1. Micaela P. says

    that has to be the most gorgeous danish I’ve ever seen! And the citrus sugar? I’m already thinking of other things I could use it for! :)

  2. mary jane says

    Your recipe looks scrumptious and the fact you did not use two cubes of butter and whole wheat flour to boot, is a big blessing to most people..would love to win the giveaway.Happiest of Holidays, luv your blog..

  3. says

    Barbara, this braid is gorgeous! Your braiding is absolutely perfect!
    I’m sorry I couldn’t make the blogger’s brunch, it sounds like so much fun.

  4. says

    This braid just sings “Holiday”! I love the reduced butter and whole wheat substitutions, but am totally ignorant of vital wheat gluten. What is the role of the added gluten?

    • says

      Thanks Dee! Whenever I bake breads with whole wheat flour I add vital wheat gluten. It helps the bread rise better, which is especially important with heavier whole wheat flour.

  5. Sharon says

    I’m impressed with how you “healthified” the Danish Braid. It looks wonderful!
    Thanks for the generous giveaway.

  6. jacquie says

    also a subscriber to hodson mills blog and since i don’t “twitter” or “like” i hope that qualifies me for an additional entry.

  7. jacquie says

    oh that looks very good and i would love to make it but i have a couple of questions ….. can you make it by hand instead of w/ a dough hook as i don’t have one. and can you use regular yeast instead of the rapid rise?


    • says

      Thanks Jacquie! Yes you can make this by hand, you may want to double the kneading time. You can use regular yeast, but you won’t mix it in with the flour, instead dissolve the yeast in some of the warm milk (110 – 115 degrees) with a tablespoon of sugar. Great questions.

  8. Carol says

    Holy smokes does that look delicious! I love making bread-can’t wait til I can carve out some time to try this one.

    Thanks so much Barbara.


  9. says

    I love making danish’s. This recipe certainly looks unique. I will have to try it. Have you every made it with laminated dough? and sweetened cream cheese filling? That’s my favorite! Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

    • says

      Hi Brooke – I don’t make laminated dough often, but have made it several times. It is fabulous, so I can understand why it would be your favorite. Happy holidays to you as well!