Whorls of buttery dough, flaking and crisp at the edges and buttery and soft at the middle, striated with luscious baked cheesecake and studded with tart cherries: this is the majesty of a cherry cheesecake danish. The idea for this danish is pretty straightforward, it’s inspired by the classic cherry and farmer’s cheese strudel. I incorporated some classic Danish dough for added heft, and to achieve my goal in life; making desserts into acceptable breakfast foods. And thus I created a freaking amazing addition to the Danish canon. One that frankly probably already exists, but I don’t know, because I am too lazy to google it.
What are you too lazy to google? My list is long. I’m too lazy to google ‘what to do if I didn’t receive a Census form?’, and ‘who will come and collect my bombed out old car?’ (it’s been months and it’s still just parked under my house – I am the worst). I’m too lazy to google ‘how to make ghee’ and ‘how to sew on a button so that it won’t fall off the same day’. I’m far too lazy to google anything like ‘why do people like Ben Affleck?’ because I believe some things really should just remain a mystery. But although I am too lazy to whip out my phone for five seconds and do any of these things, I am strangely not too lazy to make Danish dough.
To be fair, this isn’t a classic Danish dough, it’s a cheat’s version popularised by Nigella Lawson, and created by Beatrice Ojakangas. The main difference is that the butter goes into the dough in chunks, as opposed to being incorporated in a large block, and then rolled out. The results are indistinguishable from one another, though the method is a lot easier. What you do is just make up a simple dough with flour, egg, milk, yeast, sugar, salt (aka salger), and LOTS of butter. Then, the next morning, you roll the dough out into a large square, sort of squashing those chunks of butter as you go. Then you fold up the square like a business letter and roll it out again, which eventually traps the butter between layers of dough, giving you those classic flaky danish layers.
After that I spread a layer of easy lemon-scented cheesecake mixture over the dough, dot it with drained morello cherries and rolled it up like a swiss roll. When these spirals of dough bake, they puff up and the layers become gorgeously visible. What you get is the perfect ratio of crispy-creamy-soft in each bite, aka freaking heaven. Get them in your life!
- ¼ cup warm water
- ½ cup milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups (375g) plain flour
- 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 225g (8oz) butter, cold, cut into dice-sized pieces
- 250g (9oz) cream cheese, at room temp
- ⅓ cup (70g) caster sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 cup morello cherries from a jar, thoroughly drained
- ½ cup (55g) icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp morello cherry juice
- To make the pastry, place the water, milk and egg into a small jug and whisk together.
- Place the sugar, salt, flour and yeast into a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the butter to the dry ingredients and work into the mixture with your hands, just a little. You just want the butter to get a little squased, and a little incorporated, but it should still be in large chunks.
- Add the wet ingredients to the butter-flour mix, and use your hands or a spatula to work the liquid into the mix until there are no dry patches of flour - again, the butter should still be in quite large pieces at this stage. Cover the bowl with plastic, and place in the fridge overnight.
- When you want to make the danishes, turn the cold dough out onto a floured surface, and use a large heavy rolling pin roll it out into a 50cm (19in) square. Fold the dough over onto itself in thirds, like a business letter, and then do the same thing again, in the opposite direction, so you're left with a fat, layered square of dough. Now, roll it back out and repeat this process twice more. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside in a cool place while you make the filling.
- To make the filling, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and lemon until smooth, then beat in the egg. Drain the cherries very well.
- Roll the dough back out into a large square, about 3 mm (1/8th inch) thick, spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the dough, and scatter with cherries. Roll up firmly, but not too tightly, and then slice into 12 even pieces, 3cm or just over an inch thick.
- Place the danishes onto a lined baking tray, cover with plastic, and pre-heat the oven to 180C. Leave the danishes to rise for 30 minutes.
- When the danishes are risen, remove the plastic and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dark golden and cooked through. Leave to cool completely on the tray.
- To make the icing, mix the sugar and cherry juice together, and then drizzle haphazardly over the top.