Brett made a scrunchy face at me and meticulously picked through the remains of his breakfast danish. “There’s a lot of fruit in here”, he said.
“Get out of the kitchen”, I replied.
I usually encourage constructive criticism when it comes to recipes and baking, but this danish had taken so much research, preparation, and use of my spare time that I wanted nothing short of glowing reviews. My husband, though, sometimes a bit more honest than my pride can bear, had already given away how he really felt about the pastry that contained hours of my love, sweat, and flour. He went on the lament of all of the “raisins” in the danish, even as I repeatedly confirmed to him that they were dried cherries.
“CHERRIES. They are dried cherries. It’s legitimately dried fruit soaked in bourbon and then baked into a delicious, flakey crust. How is that ever a bad thing? Explain. Now.”
I usually try to heed most of my husband’s likes and desires but this was one instance where the degree to which he was wrong was no match for how oh-so right the pastry was.
At the start of this year, we visited Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. I high recommend it. Anyone who would kind of consider themselves a foodie, or even anyone that just really likes to eat, would find themselves at home among the never-ending parade of seemingly perfect meals that we were served the entirety of our stay. The resort is small, intimate, and classically Southern, and they are known for their culinary and wine program.
On the last morning of our trip, we sat down for brunch and my attention was immediately directed to my left where BJ Novak (you probably know him as Ryan, the temporary hire on “The Office”) was dining with three other people. I was literally seconds away from approaching him to ask if we could FaceTime Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapour) so I could fangirl her and talk about her new book that had me near-pants-wetting the entire time I read it. Right about that time, our waitress brought to our table a complimentary treat: breakfast danish. Let’s talk about that danish.
Actually, I may need a minute to just cherish the memory of that pastry.
Blackberry Farm- you know how to do it. You see all the other restaurants and resorts serving club crackers and cold biscuits as their complimentary bread basket and you decide to Michael-Jordan-slam-dunk-from-the-free-throw-line all over their faces. No, this was not your run of the mill bread basket.
That danish was of another world. That danish tasted as though it was made entirely of butter and fairy dust. That danish was melt in your mouth, rich, buttery, flaky, tender pastry wrapped around a tart and spicy fruit filling.
It was beyond. And I knew I had to have it. After scouring the internet for a recipe that seemed worthwhile, I ran across a recipe byefore I tell you the recipe, a few thoughts that I will share in rhetoric:
- Is this a ridiculously simple recipe? No. This recipe can look a bit overwhelming from the front end and it is not a mere one or two steps.
- Is this a recipe that I can prepare in an hour start to finish? Absolutely not. This will take you a chunk of time and is best worked through in short phases throughout the day.
- Is this a recipe that will melt my face off? Yes. Prepare your face for its day of melting. This is a recipe that is worth every second of meltage and more.
I recommend reading the recipe start to finish a few times so you’re kind of prepared for what’s ahead. For additional notes, be sure to check out the original recipe for the pastry as well.
And by the way, BJ Novak, if you ever read this by some random strike of luck or coincidence, tell Mindy Kaling I say what’s up and that we should be best friends. That is all.
- 1 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for rolling dough
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup cold whole milk
- 13 dried apricots, diced
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons good quality bourbon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- Combine the flour, granulated sugar, yeast and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to combine until butter is distributed in pea-sized pieces throughout the flour. Put the flour mixture in a medium bowl.
- In a separate, small bowl, whisk the egg and milk with 2 tablespoons of water. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold the mixture until the liquid is evenly distributed, being careful to not overwork the dough. Dump the contents of the bowl out on to a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 2 days.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to an 8-by-15-inch rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the rolling and folding process. Dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking, rotate, roll, and fold a final time, ending with a small, rectangular piece of dough. Wrap the dough in Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Repeat the entire rolling and folding process one more time. You will have rolled and folded the dough six times. If the dough becomes loose or tacky, place in the fridge to rest for a bit. Wrap the dough and place in the fridge for 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Combine the apricots, cherries, and bourbon in a 4 quart saucepan over low heat with just enough water to almost cover the fruit. Allow to simmer over low heat until fruit has plumped and some of the liquid has been absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes total. Set aside the fruit and its liquid in a separate bowl.
- In the same pan over medium heat, combine butter, apples, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, dried fruit, and lemon juice. Bring to a bubble and reduce heat to low, cooking for 5-7 minutes or until apples have softened slightly but are not mushy. During this time, slowly add liquid reserved from the dried fruit so that the filling remains a moist a syrupy consistency but never watery. You may not use all of the reserved liquid. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Allow to cool in the refrigerator.
- Roll the pastry dough out in a 11x14" rectangle on a lightly floured piece of parchment.
- Using the back of a knife, mark off a 3" section of dough running the length of the pastry. Be careful not to break all the way through the pastry. This will serve as your guideline of where the fruit filling will go.
- Starting at one end and working your way the entire length of both sides of dough, make 1"cuts perpendicular to the lines you first created, dragging your knife from the barrier line to the end of the dough.These will be the pieces of dough you braid over the top of your fruit filling. Cut off the top and bottom 1" strips, leaving just a center "flap" on either end.
- Beat an egg in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of water and apply a thin coat of this egg wash over the braiding strips and end flap.
- Spoon your filling in to the 3" partitioned section of dough, discarding any extra watery liquid that may have gathered in the bowl.
- Fold the center end flaps up and over the fruit. Starting at one end of the pastry, braid your strips, in a slightly downward angle. When you get to the end of the pastry, fold your strips over and lightly press to ensure that the pastry has adhered and sealed.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Move the parchment to a cookie sheet and cover with saran wrap, allowing the pastry to rise. It will puff up slightly and bounce back at your touch.
- Brush the remaining egg wash all over the top of pastry. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, gently turning the pan halfway through. Remove from oven when the pastry is flaky and golden. Cool on a cooling rack until just warm. Serve warm with a simple powdered sugar or brown butter glaze.