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by Heather Harris Brady
At this point we know there’s no escape. This next week is going to be miles of rough road, it’s going to call for coddling and coddling by definition calls for butter and cinnamon. Buckets of butter and cinnamon.
These cinnamon danish are based on one of my old guilty pleasures, the McDonald’s cinnamon danish. I don’t even think they sell them anymore and I haven’t had one in years. So I rebuilt it from memory and it’s pretty close! The pastry is flaky, the filling is loaded with cinnamon and the icing adds vanilla to the mix. I’m cutting some photos below to save length, but if you’re new to bread dough you can find mixing instructions and photos in one of my other bread recipes.
This does need to rise overnight, so start them the day before. you can cut this recipe in half if you like.
Cinnamon Danish, Makes about 30 3″ x 4″ Danish
For the dough
- 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 c. milk
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 egg
- 3 T. butter
- 1 pkt. fast-rising yeast
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 12 T. butter (reserved, at room temp)
For the filling
- 4 T. cinnamon
- 1 c. fine bread crumbs
- 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
- 2/3 c. white sugar
- 5 T. butter
For the glaze
- 3 c. confectioner’s sugar
- 4 t. vanilla
- 2-4 t. water
Make the dough:
Scald the water and milk together in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and 3 T. butter. Cool to lukewarm and stir in the egg, flour and yeast. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and knead it well, adding flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until the dough is satiny and elastic. Wash and grease the bowl, put the dough back in, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight.
On baking day:
Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
We’ll work with one half at a time. Roll one ball of dough out to 1/4″ thickness. Slice the reserved 12 T. of butter in half, and then take one half and cut it into halves lengthwise. Put it in the middle of the dough.
Fold the dough over the butter, bringing the bottom up and the top down to flop over it.
Yay! We’re laminating! Roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down.
Repeat one more time: roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down. Wrap your now-laminated dough in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge and repeat the process for the other dough ball.
Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix to fine crumbs.
Get the first ball of dough back out of the fridge. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick.
Let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it into squares. (This waiting period keeps them from shrinking.)
If you want to be proper make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 T. of water. We’ll use this to seal the edges as we fill. Take a square and add a tablespoon of filling to the center.
Bring opposite corners up to the middle and seal them with egg wash or press them.
Turn the danish seam side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep going until you’re done! It will be worth it, trust me.
When the danish have nearly doubled in bulk take a sharp knife and make three slits across the top to show off that pretty filling.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until flaky and golden brown.
Make the glaze while the danish are baking. Stir together the sugar and vanilla, and drizzle in water as needed for the proper pouring consistency.
Lay the baked danish on a cooling rack and drizzle glaze over them contentedly, taking in deep healing breaths of the cinnamon steam as you go. You will immediately feel better.
You will feel better yet when you take a bite.
by Heather Harris Brady
With a couple ripe pears and a nice bottle of Chardonnay on hand, I threw this together one night when I got home from work. It has an olive oil crust, adapted from a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.
I like to use Bartlett pears because they’re so flavorful but d’Anjou work too and they’re not as juicy. Right when the tart came out of the oven I drizzled it with some local honey and a few sage leaves from my garden. It a nice versatile tart, and it would make a pretty little starter as minis too.
Pear Goat Cheese Savory Tart, Makes one 9″ freeform tart
Olive Oil Crust
- 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c. semolina pastry flour
- 1/4 c. light whole wheat flour
- 1 t. sea salt
- 1 t. Herbs de Provence
- 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/2 c. cold water
Three ripe pears, cleaned and sliced
4 oz. soft goat cheese
Honey for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the first six crust ingredients in a bowl.
Work in the oil to crumbles.
Stir in the water and gently knead a few times a soft dough. Don’t overwork it.
Dust the counter and roll out the dough like you mean it, with a few broad strokes.
Lift the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Pile the pears in the middle, leaving a few inches of clearance all around. Then add dollops of goat cheese on top. Bring the sides of the crust up over, and arrange them to show the filling.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Right when the tart comes out of the oven drizzle it with honey and some fresh herbs for color.
Serve hot or warm. Cut into fourths for a generous appetizer.
by Heather Harris Brady
Now I like a good four-page recipe probably more than the next girl, but there are times when you have to come up with something FAST. You found a slip at the bottom of the school backpack asking you to bring in something for the bake sale/party, you’ve been invited to a tailgate, or you just need cake like NOW.
This recipe is for those times. If you can stir you can make it. I promise. If you’re an experienced baker it’s still a lovely thing to throw together for a treat after working all day. It keeps well, it’s moist and velvety and it has that irreplaceable homemade thing going. It would also make a great Halloween dessert, just bake it in a round and drizzle a spider web-ish design in chocolate over the top. Boom.
Pumpkin Cake, Makes one 8″ cake or about 12 cupcakes
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 2 c. flour
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. oil
- 1 t. fresh ground ginger
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 3 T. soft butter
- 1 t. milk
- 1 t. vanilla
- 2 c. powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and oil. Stir together well.
Stir in the spices.
Then the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Spread it evenly in a greased baking dish.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.
While the cake is cooling make the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.
Beat in the vanilla and the milk. Add a little milk if you need it to reach the desired consistency. Beat for two minutes.
Spread the icing on the cooled cake.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I sprinkled some candied nuts on top.
Keep leftovers refrigerated, and lightly covered.
by Heather Harris Brady
Believe it or not, I woke up a few days ago thinking about coconut snowballs. Now mind you, the last time I actually had a Hostess snoball I was probably also gazing dreamily at my Duran Duran poster and Nick’s purple eyeshadow. I knew I wasn’t after an actual duplicate, but rather the experience of cutting down through that pristine exterior to find amazing chocolate cake underneath.
Dorie Greenspan, because she is my spirit baker (like a spirit animal, but you know, a baker), understands such things. So much so that she has almost exactly that on the cover of her Baking cookbook. I’ve adapted her cake recipe here, covered it in an old-fashioned seven-minute frosting, and then coating the whole thing in coconut.
Unlike their inspirational counterparts these aren’t for keeping, you have to make them and eat them up shortly thereafter because the icing can get sticky in humidity. You’ll want to eat them right away anyway, the chocolate cake is meltingly delicious inside the fluffy frosting.
Coconut Snowballs, Makes six individual desserts
- 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 c. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1/4 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. baking powder
- 5 T. butter, softened
- 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1/4 c. buttermilk
- 1/4 c. hot strong coffee
- 1/3 c. mini chips
- Frosting (recipe below)
- 2-1/2 c. fine shredded coconut
Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350. Put the sugars and butter in a mixing bowl, cream well.
Add the egg and beat well, until very light and fluffy, about three minutes.
Beat in the melted chocolate, then add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Beating well after each addition.
Lastly, fold in the coffee, followed by the mini chips.
Spoon the batter into six ramekins. (I had to bake mine in two batches.)
Bake for about 10 minutes, until puffed and just firm to the touch in the center.
Turn them out to cool. They will fall slightly but that’s okay!
While the cakes are cooling make the icing.
Frosting (from King Arthur Flour)
- 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. cold water
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 t. light corn syrup or 1/4 t. cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup or cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer set at low speed for 30 seconds, then set the pan over boiling water (the pan shouldn’t touch the water).
Beating at high speed, cook the frosting for about 7 minutes, or until it’s stiff and glossy. Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and beat an additional 2 minutes.
Put each cake right side up on a plate and cover it with frosting, mounding it on top to get a half-spherical shape.
Sprinkle coconut on to cover and put the finished cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.