High Country Baking: Elevate your morning meal with these cherry pastry rounds
High Country Baking
High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column, published on Thursdays, presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Want to make breakfast special? These petite cherry pastry rounds will do it. A cross between a Danish pastry and a French croissant, they yield about three bites of sweet cherries wrapped in a tender, flaky crust. They’re delicate, delicious and guaranteed to elevate the morning meal.
Cherry Pastry Rounds
- Works at any elevation
- Yields five 3-inch rounds
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick), very cold
- 1 cup bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
- 2 pinches salt
- ¼ cup sour cream, cold
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- Dash ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup frozen dark sweet pitted cherries
Optional additional filling
- 1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1. Make the crust: Cut the butter into 16 pieces and freeze them, covered, for 5 minutes; they must be close to frozen to assure a flaky crust. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are half their original size. Add the sour cream and use long pulses to blend it until the dough is in large, moist clumps with small lumps of butter still visible. Dump it onto waxed paper and gently knead it into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate it until it’s cold and firm or up to a day before using.
2. Make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir to blend. Quarter the frozen cherries and add them. Place the pan over medium-low heat, stir constantly, bring to a low boil, and simmer until the mixture is thickened to the consistency of preserves. Cool completely. If using the optional additional filling: Cut the cream cheese into pieces, add them to a small bowl with the sugar and vanilla and whisk/beat until smooth and fully blended. Both fillings can be covered and refrigerated up to a day.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If very cold, let it warm up until it can be rolled. . Roll it between two sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8–inch. Cut it into circles that are 3-inches in diameter; if necessary gather and re-roll the dough to get 10 of them. Place them an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate, lightly covered, to firm them up before filling.
4. Make the rounds: Remove the pan from the ‘fridge. Beat the egg and brush it around the outside edge of 5 of the dough circles; save it to use again in the next step. Spoon about ½ teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture, if using, in the center of the egg-brushed circles and spread it out a little. Top it with about a teaspoon of the cherry filling, using all the pieces of cherry and very little of the liquid. Gently spread the filling so it isn’t in a high mound. Center the remaining 5 dough circles over the filled ones. Don’t stretch the dough or the rounds may crack open while baking; if necessary, remove some of the filling. Use the tines of a fork to press the edges of the two circles together so they’re sealed. Cut several vents in the top of each round. Place the baking sheet, with the rounds on it, in the freezer until the dough is quite firm.
5. Bake the rounds: Remove the sheet from the freezer. Add the milk to the beaten egg, brush a thin coating on each turnover and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Put the pan in the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees, and bake until the rounds are light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, depending on how cold they are when placed in the oven. Remove to a rack and cool them completely.
6. Add the glaze, if using: Combine 1 tablespoon cream, the vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and whisk vigorously. Keep adding more sugar and, if needed, more cream, in small amounts, until the mixture is a consistency that slides easily off a spoon. Drizzle it over the cooled rounds and allow it to set. Store, covered, at room temperature for 1-2 days. Reheat in a 325 degree oven until warm to the touch and serve.
Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She’s lived in Frisco since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at email@example.com.