Cherry-Almond Danish

By • December 6, 2012 • 18 Comments



Author Notes: Once a year, at Christmas, my mother would make a morning danish. Her cherry almond twist had a buttery, downy crumb and layers of almond and cherry filling. The recipe came from a 1965 clipping in a magazine called "The American Home." It's remarkably easy to make. The dough, with its larding of butter and milk, is soft and easy to manage. And if you don't feel like kneading, then don't. Just cover the dough and let it proof overnight in the fridge.

I made a tweak to the recipe, because in the 47 years since the recipe was published, some improvements have been made to our food system -- also we've come to our senses. No longer do you need to speckle the dough with those abominable red candied cherries. We now have tart and sweet dried cherries -- and I took them and plumped them with some hot rum, and subbed them in.

When it comes time to shape the dough, don't stress. This dough is the most easy-going danish you'll ever meet. Flatten it with a rolling pin. Spread the almond filling on top, leaving an inch border on the side you want to use to seal the dough log. Dot it with the rum-cherries, and roll it up. Take your two rolls and twist them, like a twist-tie. Child's play!

In the version above, I forgot that I was supposed to make two twists with the dough, so instead I produced a mammoth loaf. It was a pretty impressive sight, the Mcmansion of danishes! It's also faster to make just one, but if you want to have a loaf for your family and a loaf to give away, then split the dough and make two twists. Do what you feel like, it's Christmas!
Amanda Hesser

Makes 1 large or 2 small danishes

Basic Yeast Dough

  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115° F.)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. The day before baking the twist: pour the milk in a small saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to form around the edges and the milk steams, remove it from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm. Measure ¼ cup lukewarm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or a large mixing bowl; sprinkle in the yeast; stir to dissolve.
  2. Add the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup flour, and blend. Mix in the butter. Beat in 2 cups of flour until the mixture is smooth. Add enough remaining flour to make a very soft dough. Knead in the mixer with the dough hook, or turn dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and knead 3 to 4 minutes to until dough is soft and velvety and little blisters appear just under the surface. Put into large well-greased bowl; turn dough over to bring greased side up. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day: punch the dough down; let rise again about 30 minutes or until almost doubled.

Cherry-Almond Filling

  • 2/3 cups dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup rum (or other dark spirit)
  • 2 egg whites
  • One 7-ounce tube almond paste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds
  • Sugar, for sprinkling
  1. While the dough rises, prepare the cherry almond filling: put the cherries, rum, and ¼ cup water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the egg whites until foamy; crumble in the almond paste. Pulse until all the lumps are blended in. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and the butter. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut into 2 equal pieces (4 pieces if you're making 2 twists). Roll each piece out to a 6x15-inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle with half the almond-paste mixture; dot each with half the cherries. Roll each piece up from the long side, jelly-roll fashion. Pinch the edges well to seal the seam to help keep the filling inside the dough. Put the two filled rolls side by side, seams down; twist one roll over the other forming a fat rope shape. Pinch the ends of the twist to seal, and tuck under any unsightly parts!
  4. Place the twist on the prepared baking sheet. Beat the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water; brush this on top of the twist. Scatter the almonds over the twist; sprinkle with sugar. Cover; let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes. Bake until browned and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan 180-degrees halfway through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool before eating, if you have the inner strength.
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Comments (18) Questions (2)

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8 months ago Michelle Trim

I pitched the unrisen dough and tried again. This time I used a lot less flour - closer to 4 cups than 5.5.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you tried again -- the amount of flour can vary depending on the humidity where you live, as well as how you measure it. In an ideal world, we'd all weigh our flour rather than using cups but ... we don't! I dip-and-sweep measure my flour so it may also be that you have more flour per cup than I do.

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8 months ago Michelle Trim

I ended up on day 2 with a brick of dough so solid that it was like modeling clay. Is this right? And, my yeast was good (tested it).

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about 1 year ago Wulffmom

So delicious! I plumped the cherries with water so mixed them with cherry jam. I made one roll and braided the other like this : http://smittenkitchen.com... My mothers day gift to myself! Thank you for the recipe. fun, easy, and a true treat!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Very pleased to see your comment -- and thank you for directing people to another interesting way of braiding. Very cool!

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about 1 year ago Paulaob

I saw a comment about using cherry jam instead of dried cherries. I happen to have a jar of cherry preserves I would like to use. How much would use on each piece and would you spread it over almond filling? Thanks.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I would use a half cup total.

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about 1 year ago Maryjane May Molinari

mjm58
Could you let me know how I could change the recipe to be gluten free? It looks to good to pass up.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm not sure -- I hope someone who's knowledgeable about gluten-free baking will weigh in.

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about 1 year ago DessertByCandy

Taste & presentation outweighs the very little effort it requires. Mine baked up to about the length of a half-sheet pan. Quite a sight. Enriched dough was soft (I added a touch of cardamom) and complemented the filling well. Nothing squished out.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I appreciate your comment -- because I know it looks complicated so it's hard to convince some that it isn't. You've validated my claim! And I'm happy to hear you liked it.

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over 1 year ago Kari2011

I made this over Christmas. It was well liked by everyone. Bread was really tender. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for giving it a try!

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over 1 year ago M. Winter

Made this a couple days ago, only had vanilla rum on hand, still came out great!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad it worked out!

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over 1 year ago Angela

we always have waffles on Christmas morning. but you had me at "dot it with rum-cherries"!

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over 1 year ago EmilyMcKenna

This sounds delicious. Do you think it'd work with cherry jam?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Emily, somehow I missed the comments on this recipe. Yes, it would definitely work with cherry jam!