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.