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Cherry-Almond Danish

December  7, 2012

Every day till Christmas, we're bringing you 12 Days of Baking: 12 all-new baking recipes to lift holiday spirits -- from breakfast pastries to dinner rolls, and all the desserts you can handle.

Today: Amanda brings us her cherry-almond danish.


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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!

Danish Slices of Cherry Almond Twist

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

See the recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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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).

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Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

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.


Devangi R. December 21, 2012
I am making this tomorrow. But , I have a problem I could not find almond paste..where do you think I could try finding it.
AntoniaJames December 21, 2012
Make your own! It's so easy. Here's a good recipe: http://candy.about.com/od/nutcandyrecipes/r/Easy-Almond-Paste.htm It's a good idea to let it sit for a week or so, to let the flavors come together, but if you must use it tomorrow, I strongly recommend that you add a few drops of almond extract. ;o)
Devangi R. December 21, 2012
Thanks AJ. I thought so that it would be easy to prepare it at home as well..I have all the ingredients . So off I go ..and yes, Happy Holidays and merry christmas..
barbara960 December 30, 2012
Almond paste is available in small cans (Solo brand) or plastic tubes (Odense brand) in the baking sections of most supermarkets. Look near the pie filling cans.
alexia S. December 10, 2012
I have loads of cherries canned in light syrup (home canned, we have a montmorency tree in the yard) think i could sub these, well drained of course, for the dried cherries?
Amanda H. December 10, 2012
Yes -- totally!
Vesna December 10, 2012
Sorry, to have to ask, but I am lost: how do I start to roll a mammoth loaf? Isee that you swirl at some point, but I have never done something like this :) Thanks!
Amanda H. December 10, 2012
You cut the dough in half and make two long rolls from each, then you twist them together. See steps 3 and 4 in the recipe.
Shalini December 9, 2012
Thanks! Now I know just what to make for brunch for my family when they come over. I love the mammoth loaf, it's exactly the right thing: do what you feel like!
Marian B. December 7, 2012
I can't wait to try my hand at this! It's a beauty.
Lizthechef December 7, 2012
I don't think I can wait for Christmas to try this - and anything involving yeast usually makes me break into a cold sweat...
Brette W. December 7, 2012
This pastry is so beautiful that I can't believe somebody ACTUALLY made it, with their own hands. Can't wait to try this (gulp) -- thanks Amanda!
AntoniaJames December 7, 2012
Oh, this is simply gorgeous! I love using almond paste in Danish -- and various other holiday treats. I cannot wait to make this as a gift for several local (lucky) recipients. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! ;o)
PatriciaScarpin December 7, 2012
It looks so beautiful! I love the cherry-almond combo - such lovely flavors.