Danubio dolce (Sweet pull-apart brioche)



This dough is so versatile, it’s sublime as a savory and irresistible as a sweet! The Danubio dolce is a kind of brioche made from slowly leavened dough. In this recipe, it’s filled with smooth pastry cream. This creation is a feast for the eyes and cries out to be shared with friends and children, perhaps at a party! The Danubio is made up of many soft balls of leavened dough that can be torn off with your hands. But the surprises don’t end here: each ball contains a delicious filling! There are many varieties of Danubio: in Naples, for example, it is prepared with a tasty filling of diced cooked ham and cheese, while we have also used the method as inspiration for a delicious tart recipe with fresh cherries. Try jazzing up this sweet Danubio variant by filling a few balls with chocolate pastry cream, jelly, or hazelnut paste!


To make enough dough for a cake pan measuring 11 inches (28 cm) in diameter
Manitoba flour 4 cups
Whole milk 1 cup (230 g)
Butter ¼ cup (50 g)
Sugar 2 ½ tbsp (30 g)
Brewer's yeast 1 tsp (4 g)
Eggs 1 - (medium)
Lemon peel 1 - (untreated)
Vanilla bean 1
Fine salt 1 ½ tsp (10 g)
Water ¼ cup (50 g)
For the pastry cream
Whole milk 1 cup (200 g)
Heavy cream 3 tbsp (50 g)
Egg yolks 3
Sugar 2 ½ tbsp (70 g)
Cornstarch 3 tbsp (25 g)
Lemon peel 1 - (untreated)
Vanilla bean 1
For the wash and decoration
Eggs 1 - (medium)
Whole milk 1 tbsp
Powdered sugar 3 tbsp (20 g)

How to prepare Danubio dolce (Sweet pull-apart brioche)

To make the Danubio dolce, start by melting the butter (in a microwave or bain-marie). Then begin to prepare the dough: pour the sifted flour 1 into a planetary mixer equipped with a flat beater: grate the rind of an untreated lemon 2, then add the sugar 3,

the seeds of a vanilla bean 4, and the dried brewer’s yeast (you can also use fresh brewer's yeast: in this case use 1¼ tbsp (12 g)). Turn on the planetary mixer to blend the ingredients, then pour in the milk 5 and medium egg 6 at room temperature.

Then add the melted butter 7 and when the ingredients are starting to clump around the beater, stop the planetary mixer and replace the flat beater with a dough hook attachment. Then add the salt 8 and water and continue to knead until the dough has become soft and uniform 9.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, knead it for a while and make a ball 10. Place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap 11; let it rise for 2 hours in an unheated oven with the light left on. While the dough is rising, you can get on with making the pastry cream; pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and place over low heat 12

together with the grated rind of an untreated lemon 13 and the seeds of a vanilla bean (you can steep the cut vanilla bean 14 and remove it later if you want a more intense vanilla flavor). Pour the egg yolks and sugar 15 into another pan (you can use the leftover egg whites to make meringues or cat’s tongues).

Beat the egg yolks and sugar, then sift in the cornstarch 16. Mix again and then drizzle in the previously heated and flavored milk (be sure to remove the vanilla bean, if you used one, before pouring in the milk) 17. Stir until the pastry cream has thickened to the ideal consistency 18.

Now turn off the heat and transfer the pastry cream to a shallow, wide ovenproof dish: cover with plastic wrap 19 to prevent an unsightly skin from forming on the surface. Then allow it to cool to room temperature before placing it in a refrigerator. When the dough has leavened to twice its size 20, roll it out into a ball on a lightly floured (or oiled) work surface 21.

Use a pastry dough cutter (or sharp knife) to cut 30 pieces weighing 1 oz (30 g) each 22. Squash each piece flat with your hands or roll out with a rolling pin 23, then fill with a spoonful of the pastry cream, which will now be cold and set 24.

Fold each flat disc in half, pinching and sealing the edges thoroughly so that the filling doesn’t come out (25-26). Do the same for all the balls. Assemble the Danubio by placing the balls on an 11-inch (28 cm) diameter cake pan lined with baking parchment. Arrange them in a radial pattern starting from the outer perimeter 27 and working towards the center.

Cover your Danubio dolce with plastic wrap 28 and let it rise for another hour in an unheated oven with the light on. Brush the surface with egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk 29, then bake in a conventional oven preheated to 360°F (180°C) for 30 minutes (320°F (160°) for approximately 20 minutes for fan ovens). When the Danubio dolce is ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool 30. Dust the Danubio with powdered sugar then serve it directly from the pan and tell your guests to tear off the balls with their hands!


Store the sweet Danubio under a glass cake dome for a few hours and in the refrigerator covered with foil for 1-2 days. It can be frozen if the ingredients you used were all fresh, i.e., not defrosted.


You can fill a sweet Danubio with jelly, hazelnut paste, or chocolate pastry cream. To distinguish between the fillings, you can decorate the balls with different colored sprinkles after brushing the Danubio with egg mixture before baking!