FILLING: Toss the cherries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla seeds, and fresh lemon juice in the bowl. Melt the butter in the medium sauce pan, cooking it slowly until it starts to brown. Add the cherry mixture and cook until the juices start to render. If it's too runny, you can add a little bit of cornstarch to thicken, or just strain off the juices before adding to the bread. Set aside and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator if not using right away.
DOUGH: In the bowl of the stand mixer, stir together the milk and yeast with the paddle attachment. Slowly add the sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
BEURRAGE: In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the butter and flour using the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat for another minute, until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Set aside at room temperature.
BUTTER BLOCK: After the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the dough to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Repeat folding two more times, refrigerating for 30 minutes in between. Here is a handy chart for keeping track of the turns and refrigeration.
Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used.
Assemble and Bake
Remove the cherry mixture from the refrigerator and warm slightly, just to room temperature.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and milk together. Set aside at room temperature.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼-inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet. (Don't forget to move the rolled dough to the baking sheet!)
Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
Spoon the filling down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps,” fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.
Brush the egg wash over the braid.
Spray some cooking spray on a piece of plastic wrap, and cover the dough with the sprayed side down. Proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough has doubled and is light to the touch.
Position oven rack in the center and preheat to 400º F/204º C.
Remove the plastic and sprinkle on the orange sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and reduce heat to 350º F/177º C. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the bread is a deep, golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Wrap well in plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Freeze the dough if you do not plan to use it within 24 hours. Roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, divide into two pieces, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
You can find this recipe at https://andreasrecipes.com.