obsession: apple danish edition.
i guess you could say that i fell in love with all things food as a child. which makes perfect sense, as i am fortunate enough to have been raised in a home where there was always something yummy lurking about. the unfortunate part is that i was an incredibly picky eater. turned my nose up at so much, it's a wonder i even survived.
and when i say turned my nose up. man. did i miss out... skin on chicken. the fatty part of bacon (i'd skillfully eat only the pink part). eggplant. squash. sausage links - patties were fine. i know. i could go on for days... but i'll save you all of the little rachel food hang-ups and just get to the point: i can't think of too many baked goods that i didn't love back then. save white sandwich bread. (can we even call that a baked good?) anyhoo. yes. baked goods. always good in my book.
one of my first favorite baked goods (maybe all foods) was the apple danish. first bite, courtesy of mcdonald's, by way of sara lee, i believe. mom would always get one for herself on her working saturday mornings, along with a medium coffee - two creams/two sugars. yes. i'm all about the details. :)
i'd stare in envy as she'd order my usual sausage biscuit with cheese (no eggs. little rachel also had/has (whatever) texture issues), hash browns, and a small orange juice - juice that came in a cup so tiny, one sip through the towering straw would obliterate my beverage and leave my throat feeling like the middle of the sahara. and as i'd take apart my sandwich - eating the biscuit halves with jelly, then the sausage and cheese on their own - i'd dream of the day when mom would let me have more sugar than what was in that jelly packet, for breakfast.
and when that day gloriously came... mmm mmm! life made sense. at least, in that moment. slightly warmed. flaky pastry surrounding perfectly sweetened cinnamony apple chunks. that sugary glaze dizzyingly drizzled atop. gosh. if god was a pastry, i was a worshiper. every chance i got - or one might say, when mom let me, i had to have my apple danish.
and then. i got older. wiser. changed palette. better eating habits. started eating the fatty parts of all meats. stopped eating at mcdonald's. which completely cut me off from my one true love... or did it? in the midst of one of many road trips up and down the east coast, not too many years back, my heart led me to a little sara lee apple danish on the shelf at some gas station off some back road somewhere off interstate 95. i can't tell y'all how excited i was to be reacquainted with this dear, dear childhood friend of mine! i ponied up to the register, dropped the i'ontknow, buck fifty on the counter and made my way back to my rental to get. into. that. wrapper. yo!
sat behind the wheel. put some mood music on. did my signature happy food dance (eat with me if you'd like to witness it) and took a bite. in that moment, my entire childhood broke. it had been a fraud. all of it. every single day of the, we'll say, twelve years that we call childhood were a lie! that danish tasted like deception. chemical-laden, syrupy sweet deception. nothing at all like the delectable goodness that once made my sometime saturday mornings. de-cep-tion!
seriously, ya'll. i sat there utterly puzzled. with questions. had it always tasted so horrible? had my young tastebuds deceived me yet again? did sara lee do something different to completely destroy everything wholesome about childhood? regardless of the answers to these questions, i was not going to let this madness push me into a regressive tantrum. there was only one thing to do, outside of seeking therapy...
make my own. and so i have. one sunny winter afternoon, i made so much danish pastry, i probably needed a visa. (okay. lame.) so much so, i was forced to freeze little squares of the dough, for research purposes (and/or further pastry making schemes). but i did it! courtesy of a recipe found and altered on food52 (should call for either much more flour, or much less liquid - you be the judge), i did it! made all the pastry dough! and then...
i made danishes. mango. strawberry cream cheese. and of course... apple. without a touch of that chemical taste, but all the bliss and beauty from a childhood immediately redeemed. buttery. flaky. perfectly caramelized apples. and a not-too-sweet glaze... freaking delicious! take that, sara lee!