My mother says what she missed most when we lived in southern Florida was the lack of changing seasons. I remember one winter she turned the air conditioning in our house way down so that she could light a fire. It seemed nonsensical, but as an adult I can understand her nostalgia for the transition of seasons. Why our house in Palm City had a fireplace is a completely different issue.
Nothing gives my cold, wintered heart more hope than the trees erupting in blooms. And living in D.C. intensifies the experience because one trip down to the tidal basin and you feel like you’re walking on sunshine. There’s nothing like millions of little flowers budding on every surface to reassure you that winter is finally over.
I know that it’s not cherry season yet. I know that I’ll have to wait until June to get good fresh cherries. But the idea of making flower shaped cherry danishes during the Cherry Blossom Festival was irresistible. I used cherry pie filling, but I promise that I’ll make them again with fresh cherries this summer.
I was also on the fence about whether or not to make these cheese danishes. I don’t particularly like cheese danishes, but I read through a few recipes that incorporated cream cheese. So I made half of them with cream cheese and half with just cherries. The cream cheese is good, it adds a gooeyness to the overall texture of the danish, so I would call it a success.
I made these totally from scratch, but I suppose if you wanted to Sandra Lee it you could cut shapes out of puff pastry or crescent rolls. I always feel like things just taste better when they’re made from scratch. Which is why, I promise, I’ll remake this recipe with a homemade fresh cherry filling as soon as cherries have graced us with their presence. The dough recipe is nice, though it was a little more biscuit like than a flaky danish. This was my first go round at danishes, so I’ll keep experimenting.
Cherry Blossom Danishes
1 tbsp dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1 can cherry pie filling
1 egg, for brushing
Dissolve yeast into water. Add milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and extract. Add half the flour. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour and knead 3-5 minutes. Form into a ball.
Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, turning once so it’s greased on all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot. It will need to double in size, which takes about an hour.
Use your hands to punch down the dough. Let it rest for ten minutes. Place on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out and use your cookie cutters to cut out your shapes. I used a set of flower shaped cookie cutters. I used the largest of the set to make the bottom and then a smaller one to make the top. One thing that I didn’t do but I recommend, is that you make a nice size well with your finger in the bottom layer to put the cherry and cheese. Once your bottom is cut out, brush it with egg (that you’ve whisked). Then, use the bottom of a spoon to schmear some cream cheese, and top that with cherry filling. Then place the smaller flower on top, and brush that with egg. Repeat until you’re out of dough.
Let the formed danishes sit for half an hour, and then bake them at 375 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.