Saturday, February 12, 2011
Overnight Fruit and Cream Cheese Danishes
In evaluating the recipe, I saw immediately that it had a lot more yeast than I'd like, so I cut the amount in a little more than half and allowed for a bit more rise time at the end. I find that I've become sensitive to large amounts of yeast and I prefer the texture and flavor of doughs that rise more slowly. The dough is enriched with cream, butter and egg yolks, so the crumb is very soft. It was an interesting dough to work with in that it does not require kneading, and in fact the kneading would encourage the formation of gluten strands and make the dough chewier, which is obviously not the desired result. I was a little skeptical when I stirred it all together and had a shaggy sticky glob in my bowl, but by the morning, it had risen nicely. Because of how moist it is, you have to work with it straight out of the refrigerator. I took the big chunk of now firm and chilled dough, cut it into four equal pieces, and rolled each piece lightly in flour to make it easier to handle. It was a nice texture to work with, and I could tell as I got to the last piece that as it starts to warm up it gets a bit sticky again. Definitely don't let it sit around!
I added the cream cheese layer to the filling. Definitely a must. I also used homemade cherry preserves and a hastily thrown together homemade fresh blueberry filling rather than canned stuff. If you haven't been around here very long, you may not know my hatred of high fructose corn syrup. Nasty stuff.
Last of all, I had some leftover almond struesel topping from a batch of these delicious muffins, and I sprinkled it on about half of the pastries. I loved it and thought it was a great addition.
The one thing I will do differently next time is to add a bit more fruit filling. I put these together, then headed out on a nice 8 mile run, so by the time they went into the oven, they'd risen quite a bit more and the filling to pastry ratio shifted to a point of the filling looking skimpy. We can't have that! They tasted lovely, still, but I'd be even happier with a bit more fruit.
Plan on about 15 minutes of prep time the night before, and 30 minutes of prep + 60 minutes of rise time + 15ish minutes for baking the day of. These remained very soft throughout the whole day. I would even recommend this as a beginner recipe because the dough is so easy to handle. Don't be put off by the length of the recipe, because it really was simple to put together and the results were so worth it.
(adapted from Taste of Home magazine)
2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups milk
6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. kosher salt
1 cup cold butter
6 egg yolks, beaten
Heat the cream and milk until warm, about 110 degrees. Stir the yeast in and let it dissolve while you prepare the other dough ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt, then cut the butter in with a pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in the egg yolks and cream/milk/yeast mixture until it forms a soft sticky ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, prepare two baking sheets by misting lightly with cooking spray. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into four equal sections. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll each dough chunk around until evenly lightly coated with flour. Roll each chunk into a 12" x 4" rectangle, then cut into 1"x4" strips. Pinch two strips together at one end, twist in opposite directions and pinch the other ends together. Then bend the strip around to form a wreath and pinch to close. Pinch together the center and press down to make a divot for filling. Space 12 pastries evenly on each baking sheet for a total yield of 24.
Allow to rise for 45 - 60 minutes while you prepare the fillings below.
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Make a little well in the middle of each pastry, pinching the middle of it together if necessary to close any gaps, and spoon a dollop of cream cheese filling into each.
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. cornstarch
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Stir in the water and berries, then bring to a low boil over medium low heat, stirring frequently. Smash a few of the berries with the back of your spoon to release the juices, and simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using as pastry topping. (I find that frozen berries actually work better for this than fresh berries.)
Alternatively, you may use prepared fruit preserves or any fruity pie filling of your choice.
Press the divot in the center of each pastry down again now that they have risen, and spoon a generous spoon full of fruit topping on to each pastry, on top of the cream cheese filling.
Optional Almond Struesel
1/3 cup flour
2 T. sugar
2 T. cold butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 t. cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle on top of the fruit filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly, then drizzle with one of the glazes below.
2 T. melted butter
1 T. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-3 T. milk, added in small amounts to reach drizzling consistency
Lemon Cream Glaze (excellent on top of blueberry filling)
2 T. melted butter
2 T. cream
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.