Danish Little House by the Dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

The fruit flies have landed and I needed to find a way to use up a container of raspberries ASAP. They were beautiful berries, and they would have been perfect over vanilla ice cream but all I could think about was how long it had been since I had a good danish.

This recipe takes a while, but most it is refrigerator time not hands-on time. You could even start the dough tonight, it will wait for you until the weekend when you’re ready to bake. When you taste them you’ll realize just how long you too have been waiting for a good danish! They’ll make you forget all those sad pastries that are the bane of conference coffee breaks.

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Danish, Makes about 16 individual danish or two large braids

Two envelopes yeast

1 c. milk

2 eggs

1/2 c. granulated sugar

3-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

2 sticks of butter, cold

Put the flour in a large bowl. Slice the sticks of butter in half the long way and then in half the other, so you have four long pencil sticks of butter from each regular stick. Now slice them the short way into 1/2″ thick chunks and toss them with the flour until they are well coated.

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Combine the sugar, yeast and eggs. Beat well. Fold the yeast mixture into the flour gently so you don’t break up the chunks of butter.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. At this point you can leave it overnight or up to four days.

On baking day make the filling:

1 c. raspberry jam (storebought or homemade, see directions below)

1/2 c. cream cheese

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1/4 c. sugar

1 T. flour

Beat the cream cheese, egg, vanilla, sugar and flour together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you have the dough ready.

To roll and fill the pastry:

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Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. Sprinkle the counter well with flour and and plop half the dough in the middle of the flour. Turn it over so it has flour on both sides.

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Rolling step 1: Roll out the dough gently until it is 1/2″ thick. Rolling step 2: Fold the left and right side over the middle, give the dough one-half a turn clockwise. Rolling step 3: Roll it out 1/2″ thick again. If bits of butter are exposed sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as needed. Repeat rolling steps 1-3 three more times. After the last turn roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12″ x 18″.

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I use a knife to mark the divisions in the dough at this point, cutting the top half into four smaller rectangles and the bottom half into four.

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Put a spoonful of cream cheese filling and a dab of raspberry on one side of each small rectangle. Cut four slashes in the open area and fold it over the filling.

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Press the edges down firmly all the way around to seal. Put the filled pastries on a baking sheet and return them to the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

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At this point you can repeat the steps for the second half of the dough, or freeze the remaining half for future use.

Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the pastries from the oven and sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Cool on a rack until ready to serve. You’ll see that all that folding and rolling has given you lots of beautiful buttery layers.

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I drizzled mine with a little chocolate glaze because once you’ve come this far you might as well go all the way!

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To make quick raspberry jam:

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Combine one 8 oz. container of fresh raspberries (washed) with 1/3 c. water and 2/3 c. sugar. Boil rapidly, adding 2 t. tapioca after the first five minutes. Continue to cook and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes. Cool before using.

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