Currently viewing the tag: "pastry"

We entered September with a bang: school for everyone except me, birthday celebrations, anniversary dinner (we ate here, it was incredible), and then we splurged on U2 tickets and saw the Joshua Tree tour (and they did play the Joshua Tree from start to finish and it was amazing) (also the poems they scrolled on giant screens before the show are worth reading) and then saw Maria Bamford the very next night (along with Jackie Kashian who was also hilarious) and then family visiting and then meet-the-teacher night and then scrubbing my house from top to bottom because summer made it embarrassingly dirty. There is still so much packed into the rest of this month I am actually looking forward to October, along with some cool fall breezes and falling leaves, long walks and even longer books.

September started out rather chilly, but this past week we found ourselves in a major heat wave, so naturally I found myself in the kitchen making pies, puff pastry, and Danish dough. I have this odd desire to bake on extremely hot days, which doesn’t make much sense to me, but then again, I have the same desire on icy cold days, so maybe it’s just that I’m obsessed with baking. Whatever the reason, this Danish braid was made, and I’ve declared it my new favorite. The braid itself was inspired by Zoe Francois – she made this beautiful Raspberry braid with Bread in 5’s no-knead dough, and the second I saw it, I knew I had to try one with my Easy Danish Dough. It worked wonderfully, and I have a feeling any guests I have for the next 6 months will be served some variation of this.

I’ve teamed up with Land O’Lakes for a few posts over the rest of the year. I’ve been a big fan of their butter for years; I love how my baked goods turn out with it, and as they are a Minnesota-based company, it seemed like a natural fit. I use their butter in my baking, and find the flavor to be heads and shoulders above other grocery store brands. This Danish braid was made Land O Lakes® European Style Butter, and it turned out *fantastic*. The layers were perfectly flaky and each bite rang out with pure butter flavor.

Danish Braid with Apple and Cream Cheese
The Easy Danish Dough recipe is from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book.

Easy Danish Dough
Notes: The dough does need to rest overnight in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly. It’s important for the Danish dough to come to room temperature before you roll it out, or the butter will not incorporate correctly. This dough can be frozen, but doesn’t rise quite as nicely as when it’s fresh. If the dough is not used right away after being out and turned, it will puff up in the refrigerator. This will make it a little harder to roll out, but you will still have good results.

3/4 cup whole milk, warm (100-110F)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (355g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick | 57g) Land O’Lakes European Style butter, room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks | 170g) Land O’Lakes European butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
Apple Jelly or Apple Butter

Cream Cheese Filling
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2-4 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon creme fraiche (optional)

For the easy Danish dough
Grease a large bowl.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, egg, yolks, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low. Add the room temperature butter and mix on low until it is incorporated into the flour and no pieces are visible. Add the cold butter and mix on low, until it is broken down and smashed a bit, but still in 1/2-inch pieces. Add the milk mixture and mix on low until combined. The dough will be very sticky and there will be visible lumps of butter. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.

The next morning, transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Knead 10-12 times, until the dough forms a ball. Cover the top lightly with flour and cover with a tea towel, let rest until it comes to room temperature. Pat the dough into a 6-inch square and roll into a 16 by 20-inch rectangle. If the dough sticks at all, sprinkle more flour underneath it. Brush any excess flour off the dough, and, using a bench scraper, fold the short ends of the dough over the middle to made three layers, similar to a business letter. This is the first turn.

Flip the dough over (seam side down) and roll into an 8 x 16-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends over the middle, business letter style. Repeat the steps again, for a total of four turns.

On the last turn, gently use the rolling pin to compress the layers together slightly. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before using or keep refrigerated for 2 days.

For the cream cheese filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugar, salt, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and mix on low until completely combined. Taste the filling, and add a little more lemon juice if the flavor is dull. (The filling shouldn’t taste like lemon, but a little bit of lemon juice will add a bright note to the filling. When tasting, look for a bit of a zing in your mouth that doesn’t scream lemon.) Cover the filling and set aside until ready to use.

For the glaze
In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and salt (if using the creme fraiche, add here, too). Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin the icing to a preferred consistency. Add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, and taste for brightness (add more if needed, but again, you don’t want a lemon flavor here).

To assemble
Cut the Danish dough in two equal pieces. Roll the first piece of dough into a 10 x 14-inch rectangle, using enough flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the surface or the rolling pin. Transfer the piece of dough to a piece of parchment paper (this will make moving the braid much easier).  Spread half of the cream cheese filling down the center of the dough, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Top the cream cheese with about 3/4 cup of the apple jelly. Carefully cut 1/2-inch thick strips of dough (a pastry cutter works best here), doing your best to make the strips even and equal on both sides. Starting with the top two pieces, gently twist then cross the pieces over the top of the filling. Continue the same motion of twisting the pieces and crossing them all the way down the braid. When you get to end of the braid, tuck the loose ends underneath the braid (this way they won’t pop out when baking). Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Move the braids (on the parchment) to baking sheets, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the braid rise until puffy (similar to a marshmallow when pressed), about 1 1/2 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F. (I like to bake mine one at a time, but you could bake them together – adjust oven racks instead to upper and lower middle positions, then rotate sheets to opposite oven racks half way through baking.

Lightly brush the braids with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until  golden brown. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Drizzle the braids with the glaze.


peach-apple-cherry pie
‘Have you been online yet?’ my husband asks from the couch. It’s 8:45 am, and I am searching the kitchen for breakfast. Most mornings, upon waking, I reach for my phone next to me on my nightstand, and check all the icons chirping at me like hungry baby birds. Email, facebook, instagram, twitter, usually in that order. I despise the impulse, but I’m too tired to stop my arm from reaching, and its become a daily habit. Summer vacation is upon us, however, and I’ve set new goals for myself. Wear a small gray arm band to record my daily steps. Read books at night before bed instead of falling asleep to the internet. Eat a healthy breakfast, then go ahead and see what the world brings.

So I hadn’t heard the news. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Something bad?’  He handed me his phone with a stony face, and I knew instantly. Another shooting. I felt the pit in my stomach, the one that has been there since Columbine, that grew into something fierce after Sandy Hook. The one that triggered my anxiety the last day of school, just two days ago, the one that made me whisper as my kids left for the day: ‘Please, please, one more day. Let them come home to me.’


peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

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mixed berry scones
“How can I find the words? Poets have taken them all and left me with nothing to say or do.”
“Except to teach me for the first time what they meant.”
-Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Dorothy Sayers: A Busman’s Honeymoon

I’m not one for using expletives much in my day-to-day, but I must admit this past Monday a very loud one flew out of my mouth as my twitter notifications lit up my phone. Somehow, I had won the Reader’s Choice portion of the Saveur Food Blog Awards for Baking and Desserts. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m still pinching myself. It’s a huge honor, a dream come true, and I have you to thank. All you wonderful, lovely readers who took the time to cast a vote my way, thank you so much.

I share the category with the amazing Izy from Top With Cinnamon (who won Editor’s Choice), and I am excited that in just over a month I get to meet her, along with so many other favorite bloggers.

But in the meantime, scones! My family went out Monday night to celebrate with dinner, but I just had to bake something, too. Mixed berries, crème fraîche, and lavender seemed like a good combination, and they might be my favorite scones to date. The berries are tart, the lavender subtle, and the crème fraîche smooth and dreamy, rounding everything out. A perfect way to start the day.
mixed berry scones
Also, a few things:
Michael Jackson. Amazing.

Great writing advice, all in one place.

The Office Stare Machine.

-I can’t wait for Kimberley’s new book! And, Erin’s too!

-I’m now contributing over at Wit + Delight! You can check out my first post, for Strawberry-Basil Smoothies.

-I also have Chocolate Sugar Cookies up on Handmade Charlotte.
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pear + blackberry tartlets | the vanilla bean blog
sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there’s nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”
-E.E. Cummings
pear + blackberry tartlets | the vanilla bean blog
Spring! Is here! At least, our fingers are crossed it’s staying around for good. You never know in these parts.

A few things:
*If you’re a Flight of the Conchords fan, you may enjoy the new show Short Poppies,(on Netflix) starring Rhys Darby (who played Murray).

*Diala’s Kitchen! So beautiful.

*If you ever wanted to know how to make that Big Mac sauce at home, a chef from McDonalds shows you how (it’s not a joke, by the way. But it should be?).

*Two days left to vote in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards!

*I’ve been enjoying Kate’s mixes.

*Burundi Beans are here! I’ve written about my lovely friend Kristy from Long Miles Coffee Project here and here, and you can find out about where to buy Burundi beans here. Support their amazing project!

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raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog

Hello! I come to you today with raspberry cacao nib sugar buns and a giveaway, both of which I’m terribly excited about. I’ve been baking up a storm lately;  this extended winter Minneapolis refuses to let go of is making us all stir-crazy, literally. So we’ve been kneading and rolling and folding and repeating too often for this little family of four. But! these tasty raspberry circles were worth our time, and after enjoying a few, we gladly passed them out to our neighbors.

And, speaking of stir-crazy (I know, cheesy), I am happy to be hosting a giveaway for these lovely wooden spoons by Wind and Willow Home! You may have seen Araya’s gorgeous dipped bowls all over Pinterest, as well as bunnies and planters and candle cups. Today she is giving away a set of wooden spoons – 3 lovely hand-dipped spoons to brighten your kitchen and welcome in spring. All you have to do is leave a comment below! [Giveaway open to all, and please leave an email address! I will pick a winner next Friday.]  The winner is Maria! I’ve sent you an email!

raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog
raspberry cacao nib sugar buns | the vanilla bean blog

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beet tartlets with goat cheese and beet greens pesto | the vanilla bean blog
This morning the sun is shinning bright; we bundle up and make our way out to a quiet spot. It is still cold here, but Spring is whispering: her voice in the steady drips from gutters and rooftops. My family walks in single file down a well-worn path of snow; it is barely white but we still hear a faint crunch as our boots tread it. The children talk quietly, pointing out fallen trees and cooing birds. I am walking slowly, last in line. My husband walks before me leaving slushy prints, and I spend a few moments trying to walk in them, feeling such accomplishment when my feet fit just right. My children call to me, worried I am too far behind. It’s okay, I answer back, I’m here. As the words leave me I am flooded with  images: faces of our dear ones who no longer have marks to leave in the snow. I feel a rush of panic white-wash me and find I am standing still, so far behind the others. But just then the wind rushes in, and the wind knows me. It slaps against me, so cold, and I am awake again. I look up as it makes its way to the trees; it pushes itself against them, and they bend towards me, they cover me. It is a moment to breathe, to hide, ground myself. Then it is gone. The sky is peering at me again, the sun is so bright, and I find myself squinting. I look down as my son comes to me, his tiny boots in the snow, his soft blue mitten in my hand. He doesn’t speak, but I hear him. The adventure is this way, and he leads me on.
beet greens pesto | the vanilla bean blog
beet tartlets with goat cheese and beet greens pesto | the vanilla bean blog

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