Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake

This is as sinful and indulgent as you think. Highly reminiscent of Good Humor’s classic treat. My first attempt was “liked” by Good Humor on Twitter (yes, that is a humble brag). This is my second attempt. I tinkered with my notes and I am quite pleased with how this turned out.

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JUST LOOK AT HER!

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. You need to allocate at least two days for this project. You can make the crumble way ahead of time and stick it in the freezer. You can also make the puree ahead of time. You need to make your cheesecake the day/night before you assemble and decorate.

 

If I haven’t scared you off yet check out the ingredients and steps after the jump!

 

Ingredients:

 

Crumb:

1 pack of Golden Oreos

1 pack of strawberry gelatin

1 pack of vanilla pudding

Half stick of softened butter

(Gloves, if you’re weird like me.)

 

Cheesecake:

2-8oz cream cheese, room temp

1 C sugar

3 tbsp sour cream, room temp

½ tbsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ tbsp. corn starch

 

Strawberry Cake:

2 ½ C flour

1 ½ C sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ C strawberry puree, reduced*

Optional: 1 tsp strawberry gelatin for a slightly pinker cake

 

Vanilla Buttercream:

2 sticks softened butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Roughly 5 cups of powdered sugar

 

Strawberry Puree:

As a rule, a pint of fresh strawberries generally yields roughly 1 ¼ cup of pureed strawberry

I used just over a half a pint of strawberries.

 

 

  1. ss19ss20Puree strawberries
  2. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
  3. Stirring occasionally, allow the puree to reduce (it will thicken and sometimes the color will darken)
  4. Allow the puree to cool completely
    1. This can be refrigerated in an air tight container until you’re ready to use it.

 

Crumble:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cookies until they resemble sand
  2. Using your hand, “squish” the softened butter throughout the cookies, it will now be more like wet sand.
  3. Separate the crumbs into two bowls
  4. Sprinkle in strawberry gelatin ½ tbsp at a time until you get your desired color
  5. Add 1 tbsp of vanilla pudding to the other batch
  6. Combine the two batches
  7. This can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer

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Cheesecake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, whip the softened cream cheese.
  3. Add the sour cream
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla
  5. Add the corn starch
  6. Add the eggs one at a time
  7. Scrape down the sides, mix until combined
    1. You don’t want to see any large flecks of cream cheese, small specks are okay.
  8. Cut a circle large enough to fit into the bottom of a 9” cake pan
  9. Spray with cooking spray, place parchment
  10. Pour cheesecake mixture into the pan, gently tap the pan on your counter to release any bubbles
  11. Bake for roughly an hour
    1. The cheesecake will be slightly jiggly in the center, a tad firmer towards the edges
    2. This cheesecake is a filling so some browning and cracks are fine. No one is going to see this. This is basically sacrilegious for traditional cheesecake, I know, but trust me.
  12. Allow the cheesecake to cool
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and allow cheesecake to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight preferably

 

Strawberry Cake:

 

  1. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and gelatin using the paddle attachment
  2. Add the softened butter
  3. Add the vanilla
  4. Add the egg whites, beat to combine.
  5. Scrape down edges
  6. Add cooled strawberry pureess
  7. Repeat above parchment*
  8. Divide the batter in two 9” cake pans
  9. Bake at 350 until the cake passes the toothpick test, about 20 minutes
  10. Cool in the pan then remove and cool on rackss2

 

Vanilla Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium until the butter looks white and fluffy
  2. Add vanilla
  3. On low speed, slowly and carefully add the powdered sugar about a cup at a time
  4. Slowly increase the speed and whip until well incorporated
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all of your sugar is used

Leftover buttercream can be stored in the freezer in a ziplock bag.ss4

 

Assembly:

  1. Lay down some parchment paper
  2. Place on layer of cake, place cheesecake and top with second layer of cake
  3. If you need to, trim the cake to make it a uniform sizess3
  4. Using a spatula, create a crumb coat on your cake
    1. This does not have to be pretty, it will not be seenss5ss6
  5. Sprinkle your crumble on top of the cakess7
  6. Carefully apply the crumble to the side of the cake

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Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge! Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Boston Creme Cupcakes

 

I’ve been itching to bake lately. My partner came up with the brilliant idea that I should try my hand at Boston Creme Cupcakes. I will tell you now, this is a labor-intensive cupcake. But they are so damn good, it’s worth it. Prepare your ingredients and your tools so that you can work quickly and efficiently. There are basically four key steps: Pastry cream, cupcake, ganache and fill/dip. Don’t let this intimidate you. Work smarter, not harder. Use your ‘down time’ productively and these will come right together before your eyes.

 

FYI: I did not use a super sweet, moist sponge for this because we’re filling it with sweet pastry cream and topping with a shiny ganache.

 

Ingredients:

 

Pastry cream:

2 egg yolks

6 tbsp granulated sugar

1 ½ tbsp cornstarch

1 c half and half

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Sponge:

1 ½ cup AP flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 stick of butter (unsalted), room temp

½ cup of light sour cream

1 large egg, 2 yolks, room temp

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

 

Ganache:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 oz milk chocolate chips

½ cup of half and half

1 tbsp of butter

 

Pastry cream:

  1. In a bowl, beat yolksbc
  2. In a sauce pan, add sugar, cornstarch and milk, mix until combined
  3. While cooking, whisk constantly. It will begin to thicken.bc3
  4. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes, take off of the heat
  5. Add a small amount of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk.
    • This is called tempering. You want to ensure that you don’t cook the eggs. So, slowly add some hot liquid to warm up the temp of the yolks.bc2
  6. Add the egg mixture to the hot milk mixture and whisk
  7. Put the saucepan back on the heat and bring to a boil, allow to continue for 1-2 minutes. Whisking constantly.
  8. Take off of the heat and add your butter and vanilla and combinebc4
  9. Set to the side to cool

 

 

Sponge:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line or spray your cupcake tin
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer
  4. Add the butter, the sour cream, the egg (plus yolks) and the vanilla
  5. Beat using the paddle attachment for 20-30 seconds, you don’t want any “pockets” of flour20171118_190204bc5
  6. Fill the tins
  7. Bake until the cupcakes pass the toothpick test (roughly 20-25 minutes)
  8. Again, these aren’t super sweet or super moist. The tops will likely crack some. You’re doing amazing, this is not “wrong”. The sponge is actually almost like a soft scone, a perfect vehicle for filling and topping.

 

Ganache:

 

  1. You’re going to create a double boiler with a pot of boiling water and a glass bowl (my preferred method)
  2. Put the chocolate in the bowl
  3. Add the half and half
  4. Using a whisk or silicone spatula, stir as the chocolate is meltingbc6
  5. Stir in a tab of butter, this adds a super pretty sheen (and well, butter flavor, duh)

 

 

 

 

  • Remove your cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool
  • Using a tool or a knife (if push comes to shove, use your finger) to create a canal for the pastry creambc7
  • Fill the cupcakesbc8
  • Carefully dip the cupcakes in the ganache to coat the topbc9
  • As the ganache cools, it will harden.
  • These are best served warm or room temperature. NOM!

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Pumpkin Muffins Three Ways

Halloween and Autumn mean not only will a bunch of candy will be brought into the house but also pumpkins! I’ve found myself thinking of creative ways to eat the pumpkins as opposed to just trashing them. Last year, I tinkered around with Cranberry Pumpkin Scones. We’ve got a lot of pumpkins this year so this will be one part of a series of “what the hell can I do with this pumpkin?” recipes.

 

I’m indecisive. I was also hungry, so I found it difficult to decide which direction to go with the muffins. When all else fails, do it all and feel guilty about it later lol.

 

The base of the muffins remains the same across the board. I divided the batter and individualized three different batches. Cranberry Pumpkin, which is very tart and tangy. Orange Pumpkin, which is beautifully flavored and scented using fresh orange zest and a squeeze of juice. Spiced Pumpkin, which made me actually say “wow!” I topped the muffins with leftover streusel from my Cranberry Peach Muffins. The streusel seriously sets off the Orange and the Spiced. I eyeballed my fixins so really, just add your goodies to taste.

 

Obviously, this recipe called for fresh, roasted pumpkin but if you’re using canned that’s perfectly fine too.

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Basic Pumpkin Muffin Batter

Yields roughly 15
Ingredients:

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ c vegetable oil

¾ c granulated sugar

½ cup lightly packed brown sugar

2 c pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

¼ c milk

 

Streusel

 

Optional add ins:

Fresh cranberries

Pumpkin spice or cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice (to taste)

Freshly grated orange zest, at least one orange and a squeeze of juice

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and in another bowl combine wet ingredients including puree20171104_11175120171104_112426
  4. Carefully fold wet into dry until just combined and you don’t see any splotches of flour
  5. At this point, I divided the batter into three bowls
  6. Gently fold in cranberries into one batch20171104_113037 copy
  7. Zest your orange, gently combine zest and squeeze of juice into one batch20171104_112835 copy
  8. Add your spices, adjust ratio to suit your tastes20171104_113025
  9. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes then reduce to 350 degrees, bake until they pass the toothpick test, about 15-20 minutes.
    • Do not forget to reduce from 425 to 35020171104_11415520171104_114558
  10. Allow them to cool in the tin before removing20171104_12181720171104_121820
  11. Store in an airtight container in the fridge

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Simple Streusel

Streusel is really simple to make and easy to keep on hand!

 

This recipe yields enough for about 12 muffins. I make this in a large batch (multiplied the recipe by 6 in a kitchen converter) and keep it in the freezer.

 

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Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Combine these ingredients in a small bowl using a fork or rubber spatula.
  2. It will resemble coarse, wet sand.
  3. Use it to top muffins, coffee cake, etc.
  4. Freeze leftover in a Ziplock bag.

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I used this streusel to top my cranberry peach muffins

 

 

Cranberry Peach Muffins

Have I mentioned how much I love Autumn? I went to the grocery store and I noticed that the cranberries have been released! Tis the season! I love to hoard cranberries throughout the fall and winter. I usually keep a bunch in the freezer. I use cranberries in my baking and my smoothies. I often task myself with coming up with new ways to use them. I bought cranberries and peaches. I sat around considering what I would do with the combination. I thought maybe a pie. Maybe clafoutis. Maybe a tart. I knew I was kidding myself; these were meant to be muffins. I topped most of these with streusel and that really set these babies off.

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Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

 

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup half and half, room temperature

½ tsp vanilla

 

2 peaches, chopped

1 ½ – 2 cups of fresh cranberries

 

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    • I know this seems high but we will be lowering the temperature. Science and stuff. This process will help you get a ‘taller’ muffin. Who doesn’t love muffin tops? Ask Elaine Benes.
  2. Butter and flour a cupcake tin, shake out excess flour.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients.
    • You can do this by hand using a whisk and rubber spatula. My kiddo just really enjoys using the stand mixer so we used the stand mixer.
  4. In a small bowl, combine liquid ingredients.
  5. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low. Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  6. You do not want to overmix. The batter may have lumps and that is perfectly okay.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the fruit20171020_181605 copy20171020_18190020171020_182001 copy20171020_182453 copy
  8. Spoon the batter into the tin, to the top.
  9. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes
  10. Lower temperature to 350 degrees. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP.
  11. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins pass the toothpick test.
  12. Allow them to cool in the tin before removing.20171020_190951 copy20171020_191047 copy
  13. These are best day of but can be stored in airtight Tupperware in the fridge.

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Grown Up Double Chocolate Brownies

Listen, these ain’t Betty Crocker’s brownies.

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These are sinfully indulgent. Butter, cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips throughout. Chocolate is absolutely the star of this recipe. The brownies are moist, gooey, not super sweet. You can also taste little flecks of salt.  I’m telling you, these are very grown brownies.

Add more or less chocolate morsels. Top with nuts. Go crazy! (But honestly, they are so f*cking good, they can stand alone.)

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups of granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 ½ cup of flour

1-2 cups of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13 or 11×7 baking pan (with butter, shortening, baking cooking spray)
  3. In a sauce pan, melt your butter over low heat and then add sugarbrownies
  4. Stir very carefully and cook for about 2 minutes. (do not skip this step)
  5. Pour this mixture into the bowl for your mixer
  6. Carefully beat in your salt, cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs one at a time
  7. Mix until well combined
  8. On low, add your flour.
  9. Using a spatula fold in the chocolate morsels.brownies3
  10. Spread batter into the baking pan (the batter will be thick, this is okay!)
  11. Carefully smooth the top of your batterbrownies4
  12. Bake for up to 30 minutes; start checking for doneness around 20 minutes
  13. Cool on a baking rackbrownies4 copy

 

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Homemade Mini-Monkey Bread

Tis the season for coming together and eating everything that you really shouldn’t. And that includes yummy, homemade baked goods. This weekend we hosted a holiday gathering and I decided to whip up some yummy mini-monkey bread! This is not a last-minute recipe; you have to plan accordingly to allow for enough time for the dough to proof. Be mindful that you want to allow the dough to proof a minimum of eight hours.

 

Little hands really enjoy rolling out the balls so call them in to be sous chefs!

 

Ingredients

 

Dough

1 package of yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 and 1/4 cups warm milk

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

 

Sauce

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Glaze

1 Cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In the bottom of your bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir and allow it to rest for a few minutes. It will be fragrant and a bit frothy.
  2. Slowly add the milk, cooled melted butter, sugar, salt, and eggs one at a time. Slowly incorporate 3 cups of flour.
  3. Using the dough hook, beat on medium for a few minutes. Slowly add remaining dough until the dough forms a firm bowl.monkeymonkey2
  4. Put the dough onto a floured surface. You want to knead until it just smooth and elastic. Be careful not to over knead the dough. The dough is ready for proofing when you poke it and it springs back to you.
  5. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl, toss to coat and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours or overnight.monkey3monkey13
  7. Remove your dough from the fridge, punch it down carefully. Allow the dough to rest.
  8. Set up your coating station. Melt ½ c of the butter in a small bowl and in another bowl you want to combine sugar and cinnamon.
  9. Spray your muffin pan with cooking spray (alternatively, you can do this in a bundt pan, but this recipe is generally for mini monkey breads).
  10. Pull apart pieces and roll into balls about the size of a peppermint ball. You’ll want to fit 3-4 balls in the muffin wells.monkey4
  11. Dip each ball into the butter, gently shake off excess butter. Then roll in the cinnamon sugar, shake off excess. Then pop your balls into the muffin well.monkey5
  12. After filling the wells, allow the muffins to rest while you make the sauce.
  13. Preheat oven to 350F.
  14. On the stove, melt 1/4 cup of butter and whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla until it is well combined.
  15. Pour the mixture over the dough balls.monkey7monkey6
  16. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden. (Cover loosely with foil if the top browns too quickly)monkey8monkey11monkey9monkey10
  17. Allow to cool before carefully removing and placing onto a large serving plate.
  18. Optional: Whisk all of the glaze ingredients together and pour it over the bread.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Will keep for a few days.

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

For the last several days I have been randomly tweeting about wanting to bake something. Last night I had a dream that I made the most decadent, three-layer cake. Clearly, baking needed to happen on this chilly Sunday. So, I recruited my sidekick, Mason.

I stood and looked in our pantry and racked my brain. I considered oatmeal cookies but I do oatmeal cookies so often, I couldn’t bare it today. We have a massive jar of chunky peanut butter and my mind started working.

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. These cookies are crisp to bite but chewy on the inside. The sweetness of the sugars combined with the salty crunch of the peanuts, man! These are so delicious; you have to try them.

These are low-carb and because we used coconut oil instead of butter, we added some healthy fats too. You can cut the sugar for a more modestly sweet cookie or amp up the recipe with additional nuts or dark chocolate morsels. This recipe is very simple and it can definitely serve as a building block for a more complex cookie.


Ingredients

1 heaping of cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ heaping cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda


Directions

Preheat oven to 350

In one large bowl: mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa.

In the bowl of a mixture: mix sugar, peanut butter and oil.

When combined, add eggs one at a time.

Slowly incorporate the cocoa-flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

This dough will be sticky and very thick.

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Using a small ice cream scoop or a tbsp measuring spoon, scoop out some dough and shape them into balls.

Using a fork or the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the dough mounds.

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Note: This recipe will yield roughly 2 dozen cookies. If you have more than you need, bake what you want and freeze the rest!

Leave about 1 ½ to 2” of space between your cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies will be cracked and highly fragrant. The tops should be set.

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Allow them to cool on the pan for at least one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Optional: Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Tis the season! Cranberries are available!! This makes me happy, as you can tell. I like to use cranberries as often as I can. They’re yummy and tart, but they’re also really good for you! I like to keep a bag in the freezer and one in the fridge. Next time you make a smoothie, grab a handful and add them! So good.

My son went pumpkin picking and this guy has been gracing our dining room table for weeks. I wanted to make good use of him before he began to rot since he opted out of making a jack-o-lantern. I decided to make some scones. pump

I’m pretty sure that scones were my first foray into “adult baking” (whatever the hell that means lol). They’re pretty easy and the technique remains the same no matter what you add in. I’ve done blueberry, blueberry lemon, cranberry and a few others. They keep very well and if you want, you can freeze the formed scones and just pop them in the oven at a later date!

This is my first time making these. My first time cooking with fresh pumpkin too!

 

 

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 c (packed) light brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

½ cup VERY cold butter

1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)

½ VERY cold milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½-1/3 cup fresh cranberries (or ½ cup dried)

¼ heavy cream

 

(Aside: I used fresh pumpkin for this recipe. I cut the pumpkin, lubed it up with some olive oil. I roasted the pumpkin for about 45 minutes (or until tender). I allowed the pumpkin to cool before scooping out the flesh. If you want to skip this step, feel free to use canned pumpkin.)pump2pump3

Preheat oven to 375.

 

In a food processor, pulse VERY COLD butter (cut your butter into ¼ inch tabs) and flour together until it resembles coarse meal.

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To that, add sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

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In another bowl, combine milk, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, as well as the cranberries. Mix until just combined.

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Onto a lightly floured surface knead the dough gently. It may be sticky, just make sure your surface and your hands are well-floured.

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Form the dough into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut the scones into your desired shape, I’m partial to triangles. (Some people like to form a circle and cut “slices”, whatever floats your boat).

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Brush the top with heavy cream, sprinkle with turbinado sugar if you want to be fancy. I sprinkled these with cinnamon-sugar.

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Bake until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test. About 20-25 minutes.

 

MAN! Look at how moist these are!!pump15

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Allow to cool before serving.

I made a quick glaze and drizzled that over the scones. You can find a simple recipe here.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for a few days but…who are you kidding? You’re going to eat them.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Homemade Danish Pastry Dough

 

1 standard package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

½ cup milk (room temp)

1 large egg (room temp)

1 tsp salt

2 ½ cup leveled all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

14 tbsp very cold unsalted butter

 

In a large bowl, proof your yeast. Mix yeast with warm water and sugar. Once foamy, mix in egg, milk and salt. Set aside while you mix dry ingredients. (If foam does not form, your yeast is dead and you should begin again with a new packet.)

 

Pour flour into food processor and add butters, sliced into tabs. Pulse until flour butter is crumbled into flour.

Pour mixture into wet ingredients. Gently fold to just incorporate ingredients. You will see pieces of butter. Turn the dough out and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 2-3 hours, or overnight. (If you are in a pinch, you can freeze for about 45 minutes to an hour).

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After the time has elapsed, flour a work surface liberally. The dough will be very sticky. Flour your rolling pin, as well. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough into a small square. Roll the dough out into approx. a 15” rectangle. It may be necessary to continue to flour as you go along to prevent sticking. Fold the rectangle as if you were folding a letter. Roll out, flour, fold. Repeat three times. This is what creates the flaky layers.

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Fold the dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. (Or up to one day).