My son started t-ball this week. I made the monumental mistake of telling him a month ago that t-ball was starting “soon”. Apparently I have no idea how slowly time moves for a three-year-old. Daily he has looked at me with big hopeful brown eyes “Mommy? Do I have t-ball today?”. Finally, I got to say yes. Of course, I had to make a special treat for him for when he triumphantly arrived home from his first practice. What goes with t-ball? Hmmmm. T-ball is like baseball. Baseball…Americana…American as apple pie. Bingo! Problem is, apple pie takes a while to prepare and bake. Little munchkin t-ball practices are done in an hour. Which was plenty long enough for Donovan to come home drenched and covered in mud, but not really enough time to throw together a pie.
So, I improvised. Took a look in the fridge/freezer/fruit bowl and came up with this braided danish. It’s kind of like a pie. Except you can hold it in your hand, eat it for breakfast, dessert or a snack and it takes just minutes to throw together. Don’t let the braid part scare you. It’s really easy.
I’ve actually been practicing braiding on my daughter recently. She has incredibly gorgeous long hair that becomes a wild crazy mane if I don’t rein it in. One of her favorite things for me to do is a french braid. Or my attempt at a french braid anyway. It’s a work in progress. I’m not going to lie…I’m braiding challenged. But even I can manage this danish braid.
We start with some puff pastry, thawed. Roll it out a little then cut two triangles out of the bottom and slice off the corners at the top. Like this.
Then, starting at the middle of each side, slice into strips. Cut directly in the middle, towards the center of the dough. Then, cut each half in half. Then cut the four strips in half again. You’ll have 8 mostly even pieces of dough to braid. Repeat on the other side.
Slice some apples and give them a little mix with a some sugar and cinnamon.
Slap on some delicious cream cheese spread sweetened with a little sugar, vanilla and a hit of lemon zest. Right down the middle of your pastry. And top with the apple slices.
Fold up the bottom and top over the lip of the apples.
Then braid. Start with whichever side you want. Bring a piece of the dough up and over to the other side.
Then take a piece from the opposite side, overlapping it over the previous piece of dough.
Repeat all the way down until you’ve used all your dough pieces. Trim the ends if you need to so it’s nice and neat. Repeat with the other piece of pastry.
A little egg wash, a little bake and you have a perfecto danish with rich sweet cream cheese filling and perfectly cinnamony apples. Of course, it needed a drizzle of icing. Mmmmmm.
Cut into pieces and enjoy! My little t-ball star certainly did!
Apple Pie Braided Danish
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, zest and juice used
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 Gala apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, place the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla, 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix until smooth, using an electric mixer. Set aside.
Peel and slice your apples into 1/4-inch slices. In a small bowl toss them with 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon and juice from the half a lemon.
Carefully unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry and roll slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s about 1/4-inch in thickness. Transfer the sheet of puff pastry to a piece of parchment.
At an angle, slice off the top corners and cut two notches in the bottom. Slice 1-inch strips diagonally down both sides of the puff pastry, leaving the center uncut. Try to cut the same amount of strips on both sides. I had 8 strips per side. It helps if you start at the middle. Cut in half, then half again, and half again. Then all your pieces will be even.
Add half of cream cheese filling, spreading it evenly down the center of the puff pastry. Top with apple slices.
Fold in the bottom and top flaps. Braid the puff pastry, by folding the strips over the filing, alternating sides, until you’ve worked your way down the puff pastry. Using your knife, trim off any leftover strips or extra dough. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
Transfer the danish (with parchment) to a baking sheet, and brush top with egg wash (an egg with 1 tablespoon of water). Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown.
While baking, mix confectioner’s sugar with milk and mix. When the danish comes out of the oven, drizzle top with icing and serve warm.
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