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!
Cherry Almond Danish
Adapted from "The American Home," 1965
Makes 1 Large or 2 Small Danishes
Basic Yeast Dough
3/4 cup whole milk 1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees - 115 degrees F.) 1 package active dry yeast 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Cherry Almond Filling
1/2 cup dried cherries 1/4 cup rum (or other dark spirit) 2 egg whites 1 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
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.