Monday, January 13, 2014

Cooking Light's Cream Cheese Danish

I'm a huge fan of Cooking Light; I've been a subscriber for years. I have found that their baking recipes are always really good. They are lightened up, but they never sacrifice flavor for calories. A Cooking Light cookie is going to taste like a cookie, not a granola bar or a dried up piece of wood.

This Christmas I was looking for something amazing to bake for my family's Christmas breakfast. After pouring through magazines, cookbooks, and scouring the internet, I decided on this Cream Cheese Danish. I took a risk and baked it without ever trying it before (not really a good plan for Christmas), and while the recipe appears complex, it really isn't.

The bread dough requires making a sponge, which I had somehow never done before. All a sponge is is a bit of dough, yeast, and liquid that is allowed to ferment for a period of time before being added to the rest of the ingredients. After letting the sponge rest for 15 minutes, I found that it was incredibly foamy and bubbly and felt sure that my dough would be perfect. I really liked this method of bread making, because it really gives you confidence. Seeing the yeast really go crazy let's me know I'm in for good bread.

I loved this recipe so much that I decided to bake it again for my birthday. I was going to make myself a birthday cake, but I didn't really want a birthday cake. I wanted more cheese danish! I was going to bake it and freeze half of it, but then I decided that it's my birthday, so I'm gonna eat this whole cheese danish if I want to! My husband doesn't really eat dairy, so this baby was all for me.

This recipe is actually pretty versatile: you could always fill the bread with Nutella, jam, etc. I'm thinking apricot preserves would be divine. And the braiding is so simple, but really makes an impact. When I pulled the first danish out on Christmas Eve, I cried out in surprise! My husband thought I had burned myself, but actually I was just so shocked that I had baked something so beautiful. I was pleased, to say the least.

The recipe isn't hard, but there are a lot of steps, so I'm going to link you to the original recipe (click here). You make a sponge, then the dough rises, then you braid it and fill it, then it rises again, then you bake it, and then there is a glaze to be made at the end.  A bit more involved than usual. But the steps are very simple, and I promise you can do this. The recipe calls for part all-purpose flour and part whole-wheat pastry flour, but I just used all all-purpose. Turned out totally fine. The recipe also calls for kneading the dough by hand, but I used the dough hook on my mixer and it was also fine. Either way you will have delicious cheese danish.

Thank you Cooking Light for another baking classic!

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