Sourdough Savory Danish Crown #BBB

This month our intrepid Bread Baking Babes are baking up a deliciously savory and glorious looking crown of a loaf.  Filled, rolled, braided, and chock full of sauteed onions, which I personally adore, this is an impressive loaf to make for company.  The braiding really reminded me of one of my buddy bakes from 2012, the Russian Rose.  

The trick to "braiding" this loaf is that it is not really braiding.  When you slice the roll in half, always keep the sliced edges facing up.  Start by crossing them in an "x" and very gently lift and cross over the pieces all the way to each end, always keeping the cut sides up.  Once that is done, carefully form the criss-cross loaf into a circle and "artfully" seal the edges together.

The original recipe called for sesame seeds on top, our host kitchen used sunflower seeds.  I was originally planning on using a mix of black and white sesame seeds, but then remembered that I had nigella seeds on hand, which I thought would go with the filling perfectly, so that's what I used.

 We would love for you to try out this flavorful recipe and join in as a buddy baker this month!  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to Bread Experience by the 29th of this month. Be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month. New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Sourdough Savory Danish Crown
Adapted from Bread - The breads of the world and how to bake them at home by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

Makes: 1 Crown Loaf

260 grams + 30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour + more for sprinkling (I ended up adding about 50g instead of 30g)
65 grams whole grain rye (mine was freshly ground)
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp + 1 stick butter, softened (I used ½ stick in total, 3 tbsp in the dough and the remaining 5 split between the turns)
50 grams sourdough starter, recently fed, active (100% hydration) or ¾-ounce fresh yeast *
½ cup lukewarm water
½ cup lukewarm milk (I used almond milk)
1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs or ½ cup dried (I pulverized a slice of bread and semi-toasted the crumbs to dry a bit)
¼ cup ground almonds or almond meal
½ cup freshly grated or dried Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (I used nigella seeds)
1 Tbsp. freshly ground Parmesan (Oops, forgot!)
½ beaten egg from above or 1 tsp. corn starch + enough water to make thin glaze (I added a tsp of water to thin my egg)

(Using yeast instead of sourdough:)

If you choose to use yeast instead of sourdough, reduce the proofing time to about 1 hour for the bulk ferment in the bowl and 30 minutes for the final ferment. You may also need to reduce the milk/water mixture to a scant cup.

In a large bowl, combine the 260g all purpose flour, rye flour, and salt.  Rub in the 3 tablespoons of butter. (I did this with the paddle attachment of my mixer.)

In another bowl, mix together the sourdough, egg, and milk/water mixture.  Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.  Switch to a bowl scraper if necessary.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to autolyse (rest) for 20-30 minutes before adding any additional flour.  After the autolyse, add 30 grams of flour, if necessary. The dough will be a little sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour until the stretch and fold stage.  (I did end up adding more like 50g to get the proper consistency, still sticky.)

Let the dough proof for about 4-6 hours at room temperature, stretching and folding the dough every 45 minutes for the first 2¼ hours. To perform the stretch and fold in the mixing bowl, use a dough scraper to lift and fold the dough onto itself from all sides. Do this a total of three times.

The dough can probably be rolled and baked at this point, but our host kitchen found that it benefited from a cold ferment in the refrigerator.   She recommends a cold ferment for a few hours at least.  (I procrastinated and did not have time for this.)

The dough may also be held in the refrigerator at this point for a couple days.

To shape the loaf, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly on a floured surface.

Roll out into an oblong about ½-inch thick.  Dot half (¼ cup) of the remaining butter over the top two-thirds of the rolled dough. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down, and then seal the edges.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process with the remaining ¼ cup of butter.  Fold and seal the dough as before.  Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough another 90 degrees. Then roll and fold it as before, this time without adding any butter.  Repeat the turn/fold process once more.  Wrap the dough in lightly oiled plastic wrap or bees wrap sprinkled with flour.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the onions. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes until soft and golden. 

 Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, almonds, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Add half the beaten egg to the onion/bread crumb mixture and mix to combine.

Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle measuring 22x9 inches. Spread the filling over the dough to within ¾ inch of the edges. 

Roll up like a Swiss roll from one of the long sides. Cut the dough in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.  Braid the logs together with the cut sides up and shape into a ring. 

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours as needed, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Brush the remaining beaten egg or the cornstarch wash over the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or the seeds of your choice) and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden.  You may wish to tent the loaf with foil for the last 5 minutes to prevent the toppings from getting too dark.  Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool. Cut into slices.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for one slice of bread:


  1. Nigella seeds!! What a great idea, Kelly.

    Your crown looks stunningly beautiful. I'm suitably envious of the perfectly formed crumb.

    1. Thanks! They just occurred to me at the last minute, since I was thinking of using black sesame seeds for contrast. Hey, nigella is nutty and oniony, I should use that! My jar calls them charnushka, but it's the same thing. I actually started baking earlier than I would have liked because we had a storm cell coming in and huge thunder and I was afraid of losing power in the middle of my bake!! But it worked, yay.

    2. We get nigella seeds at an Indian grocery store - they're labelled Kalongi. I love the slightly nutty oniony flavour of nigella seeds on flatbreads. I wish I'd remembered about them when I was looking for the sesame seeds!

  2. It's a very impressive Crown... and the onions. I love onions. Perfect for Christmas with a big wedge of stinky cheese.

    1. My daughter loves all these onion breads with Boursin. You know, I don't know that I have ever really tried a proper stinky cheese! Maybe some strong ones...

    2. I think Katie is onto something delicious! A wedge of stinky cheese sounds good, but now I'm thinking I really like the idea of this bread with an oozier cheese. How about a creamy blue cheese?

  3. That's a gorgeous loaf Kelly! Your braiding turned out really well! Great idea to use Nigella seeds!

    1. Thanks Cathy! I remembered the challenge of getting the inside layers to braid nicely from the last time we used this method of braiding. And I didn't have a filling that could spill out then like this one can, so I was happy the egg seemed to bind it enough that it didn't spill very much! It's really more lifting and crossing than braiding isn't it...

  4. What a gorgeous loaf! Love the nigella seeds but I'm particularly impressed with your 'braiding' neat and even and the finely chopped onions make it even more professional looking.

    1. Thank you! I used to loathe chopping onions, but don't mind it so much anymore. ;) I think the term "braiding" throws people off. Lift and crossover, lift and crossover, that's what keeps that filling facing up and pretty!


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