Danish Puffs

My apron is blue and so are Mom’s and Grandma’s. My cousin’s has pink and brown in it, and my two aunts have red and green. In the picture, we model our new Christmas presents just after my mother handed the surprise Christmas gifts to everyone.

As with most families, we like to cook. Family gatherings are centered on meals, and everyone brings something to contribute. We have long spoke of compiling our varied recipes into a single book, but as of yet, this project remains untouched. That is, until just the other day when I decided to do something useful with my spare time. With the help of my assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, and grandmother, I plan on documenting every recipe I can and doing it with the recipe’s own cook.

For the very first entry, I must admit I struggled with the recipe options for a while. What recipe represents my family? Would it be something easy that everyone makes? Or maybe some big holiday dish that we always eat together? I think I finally figured it out.

Whenever members of our family come to town, they stay at my grandmother’s house. Everyone in my home becomes immediately jealous of this arrangement the next morning when we drive to her house and are welcomed by a diminishing sheet of Grandma’s Danish Puff.

It’s one of those things where you take a little piece. And then another little piece. And hey, might as well finish the row. It’s the taste of family and lazy mornings, and it is a wonderful place to start.

Danish Puff

This recipe is done in three different steps, each one taking no longer than five minutes of hands-on work, and makes two long Danish Puffs. I am constantly amazed by a puff’s ability to start out so flat and, well, puff up. The frosting we use is a standard powdered sugar recipe. The amounts that I will give you are just estimates, as this mixture is “by guess and by golly,” to quote my grandmother. You want it fluid enough to spread but with enough sugar to harden after a minute or so. Also, I made enough for about 10 people, but no one will object to making even more. The puff feels so light that one slice easily leaves room for seconds.

1 cup butter
2 Tbsp ice water
2 cups flour
a pinch of salt
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut 1/2 cup butter into 1 cup flour. Stir in ice water and salt. Divide the mixture in half and spread onto an ungreased cookie sheet. The two strips should be as long as the cookie sheet and about 5-6 inches thick. The dough should be thin enough to almost see the sheet underneath.
Over medium-high heat, heat 1 cup water with 1/2 cup butter until butter has melted and the mixture comes to a nice boil. Pour in flour and mix. Remove from heat place pot into a bowl of ice water–otherwise you might get scrambled eggs. Once mixture has cooled slightly, stir in eggs, one at a time. Add almond extract. Spread egg mixture on top of the bottom layer.
Bake for 1 hour.
When the puff is done, remove from the oven and place it somewhere to cool down. My grandma and I set the cookie sheet on the cement floor of her storage room and it worked pretty well. Whatever you do, please don’t use the fridge or the freezer. Any perishable items that need to stay cool will warm up and likely be ruined. It’s not worth it; just wait those extra few minutes.

Powdered Sugar Frosting

2 Tbsp milk
1/4 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar

Melt the butter and combine with milk. Pour slowly into the sugar and mix. Once sugar is fully dissolved, pour on the cooled puff and spread. Make sure you cover the surface completely, as no one wants to end up with a piece that isn’t sweet enough.

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