Cherry Danish

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This coffee cake came with an advisory that it should be made for George Washington's Birthday, which is today.* According to legend, a young George Washington once cut down his father's cherry tree with an axe. When asked if he was the one who had done it, he responded 'I cannot tell a lie,' and confessed. This story is so engrained in the foundation of America that I can remember learning it before I started primary school, and apparently the legend is well-known enough that back in the 1950s and 60s, cherry pie was the standard dessert on Washington's birthday, which was a national holiday that closed all businesses until the late 1980s. But here are my problems with the legend: what was a six-year-old doing with an axe? The legend says that he loved cherries so much that he cut down the tree, but that logic is flawed to say the least. Why did he think he'd get away with it? Were there rogue cherry-tree-choppers running around that he thought he could pin the blame on? And finally, why do we revere this story so much? He was an asshole 6-year-old, I feel like we should be able to find a story about him where he wasn't being such an annoying little kid?

Oh well, I may never know the answers to the above, but I do know this: this danish is awesome. It's supposed to have had a lattice top but since the dough was far too sticky to roll out, I went with sprinkled almonds and a cheeky sugar glaze and I regret nothing. Serve this next time you're tasked with providing breakfast for your team at work and everyone will be impressed.

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*These days, Washington's birthday is more widely known as Presidents' Day, but since we're only celebrating 44 of the 45 presidents in the Recipe Box Kitchen this year, this breakfast treat is dedicated to Washington.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. I wish this only made one coffee cake because I have a hard time finding a use for two, but it's so good I'm sure I'll figure it out.

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One year ago: Crazy Chocolate Cake
two years ago: Battle of the Biscuits

the recipe:

Cherry Danish

the directions:

Sprinkle yeast and warm water into your mixing bowl and set aside.
Heat sour cream over very low heat until just lukewarm and thin.
Add sour cream, soft butter, sugar, salt, egg and 1 c (120g) flour to mixing bowl.
Beat well until smooth.
Stir in remaining flour gradually on low speed until dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl.
Knead on low speed in mixer for 3 minutes or by hand on a floured board for 10 minutes.
Grease the mixing bowl, place dough in it, then turn dough so greased side is up.
Cover tightly and let rise in a warm place until doubled; at least one hour.
Punch down dough and preheat oven to 190C/375F.
Grease two 8-inch round removable bottom tins (if yours don't have removable bottoms, you can serve the danish straight from the tin as it will be more difficult to remove).
Press half of dough into bottom and up the sides of each tin.
Dough may be quite thin but be sure there are no holes or you'll have leaks later.
Pour one can cherry pie filling into centre of each tin and sprinkle with half of the almonds.
Bake 25 minutes until crust is golden and fruit jiggles slightly when nudged.
Allow to cool completely, then remove from tins and drizzle with powdered sugar glaze if using.

the ingredients:

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
¼ c (60ml) warm water
1 c (235ml) sour cream
2 tbsp (28g) butter, room temperature
3 tbsp (38g) sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 c (360g) flour
2 cans (410g each) cherry pie filling
½ c (45g) flaked almonds
Optional: 3 tbsp (25g) powdered sugar + 1 tsp milk or buttermilk, whisked together until a stiff glaze forms.

Cinnamon Honey Sticky Buns

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You may have noticed that I like to cook; when it comes to most foods, I'm always looking for new versions of my favourites. Why make plain macaroni & cheese when you can make sriracha mac & cheese? Why make a pepperoni pizza when you can make a goat cheese, leek and mushroom pizza? Why make ramen from a package when you could make kimchi egg yolk ramen? I can hardly remember the last time I made the same recipe twice; while I make loads of recipes I adore, I'm always looking for the next delicious thing or the coolest riff on something I already love.

Which is why it really means something when I say that my other grandmother (not Eleanor) makes the best cinnamon rolls. Her cinnamon rolls are so good that when December rolls around and every food magazine is coming up with new twists on the classic (orange-scented with cranberries! Chocolate with caramel sauce! Mincemeat with Marzipan frosting!), I flip straight past. Ever since I learned to cook, I've never made another cinnamon roll recipe; what would be the point?

It took the Recipe Box Project to get me to try a (slightly) new version of cinnamon rolls and no one is more surprised than me that I actually liked them! It shouldn't have been a surprise; the recipe required pre-made crescent rolls and since those aren't available here, I made my own dough according to the legendary recipe I'm attached to. But instead of her filling and glaze, I followed the Recipe Box version and it's amazing.

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So in honour of both of my grandmothers, one of whom acquired this recipe and the other who nurtured in me a love for cinnamon rolls and whose birthday is this week, here's a hybrid recipe incorporating the best of both of their recipes. Make these to celebrate your birthday, when you need a breakfast treat, when you have someone to impress, or when you just need a grandmother's hug.

the verdict:

5 spoons out of five. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a heavily-spiced filling, all nestled in a puddle of honey butter- these are the rolls most breakfasts can only aspire to. These won't replace my slightly different Christmas morning version, but these will absolutely be served at my next brunch and are definitely going into rotation... if I can ever get around to making a recipe more than once!

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ONE YEAR AGO: CRAZY CHOCOLATE CAKE
TWO YEARS AGO: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DATE FILLING

the recipe:

Cinnamon Honey Sticky Buns

the directions:

Heat milk with butter until both are warm (butter doesn't need to fully melt), then pour into mixing bowl.
Add sugar and salt and stir well.
Add yeast mixture and stir well again.
Add beaten egg and ½ of the flour and beat until dough is soft.
If dough is still very wet and sticky, add additional flour, ½ c (60g) at a time and continue beating JUST until dough comes together and begins to come away from the beaters.
Cover with a towel and put in a warm, non-drafty place to rise.
Let rise til doubled in size (I usually leave this to go overnight so it's ready in the morning, but if you're waiting for it, will take approx. 1 hour).
While dough rises, make sauce: combine all ingredients except pecans in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.
Stir in nuts, then spoon 1-2 tbsp into each of 12 muffin cups.
Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
Punch down risen dough then roll each piece into a vaguely rectangular shape approximately 11x15 inches.
Spread dough with softened butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Starting with the long side, roll dough into a log.
Using a sharp knife, slice log into approx. 1 ½ inch rounds.
Place each roll into a prepared muffin cup, then place in a warm spot to rise again for 30-45 minutes until the dough has filled the muffin cups, approximately 45 minutes.
Bake at 190 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are dark gold and middles are pale golden.
Remove from oven and let cool 1 minute in the muffin pan, then turn out quickly and serve immediately while still warm; sauce will be a delicious warm caramel at the bottom of each roll.

the ingredients:
the dough:

¼ c (60ml) milk
½ c (114g) softened butter, divided
¼ c (50g) sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp fast action yeast dissolved in ¼ c (58ml) warm water
1 egg, room temperature and beaten slightly
1 ½-2c (180-240g) flour

the sauce:

2 tbsp honey
¼ c (50g) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
¼ c pecans, chopped

the filling:

2 tbsp butter, softened
¼ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Better Than Sex Cake, or, Piña Colada Pudding Cake

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Presented without comment, except to say that a mimeographed copy of a recipe labelled simply 'BETTER THAN SEX' and previously owned by my grandmother is probably the best way to explain my 2018 so far. Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

 

the verdict: 

3 spoons out of five. This cake is really tasty and (these days) unusual, but the whole 'make it the night before, then decorate it right before you serve it' make it a bit of a faff and I can't see myself going through it again. That said, if pineapple and coconut are your thing, this cake is a moist tropical paradise with the texture of a sticky toffee pudding and all the flavour of a beachside cocktail. Make up a different name for it and serve it to your friends, and no one will be the wiser.

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ONE YEAR AGO: CRAZY CHOCOLATE CAKE
TWO YEARS AGO: CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DATE FILLING

The recipe:

Better Than Sex Cake

the directions:

Make cake as directed.
While cake bakes, heat pineapple and sugar to a boil and cook until sugar melts and mixture thickens slightly.
When cake is done baking, poke all over with a wooden skewer.
Once cake is mostly cool, pour pineapple mixture over it and spread evenly.
Allow to cool completely, then spread pudding evenly over cake.
Refrigerate overnight.
Immediately before serving, whip the cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
Spread whipped cream over cake and decorate with toasted coconut.

the ingredients:

1 recipe yellow cake (from ½ of this recipe, or your favourite 8x8 cake)
10 oz (295ml) crushed pineapple with juice
½ c (100g) sugar
2 c (470ml) vanilla pudding (your favourite recipe or, if you're stateside, 1 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding)
1 ½ c (360ml) whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
¼ c (20g) desiccated coconut, toasted in the oven until brown