Remember last year when the squirrels ate every single peach off of my peach tree? Well. Not this year. No sir. This year I wrapped my entire little peach tree in chicken wire. But these peaches were worth months of enduring this insane eyesore.
I ended up with maybe 16 or so peaches, not a lot, but I knew if I nipped off most of the peach buds the ones I would get would be bigger and better. And man, biting into one of these the instant it was picked was absolute heaven. Ripened for as long as possible on the branch and sun-warmed, the peach was smooth as heaven and so sweet, It was like I'd never really had a peach before.
I deliberated for a day or so before I could come up with a recipe for which I'd be willing to spend these precious peaches. Something time consuming and annoying: only the best will do for my babies.
Brioche! Brioche danishes!
Don't get me wrong, I love the shatter of a flaky laminated-dough danish as much as anyone, but they are really dessert to me; a brioche danish is something I can actually eat for breakfast. The tender buttery dough is not too sweet, and like the best pie crust, is really the perfect foil for ripe summer fruit.
This recipe makes a substantial amount of brioche dough that you can bake in any way you'd like. I threw some of this dough into a brioche tin and had a few nice buns for dinner. I don't recommend halving this recipe, as a smaller amount of dough will not mix as well in your stand mixer.
On that point, please be aware you really do need a stand mixer for this operation. This dough is so soft it is basically a batter most of the time, so it just cannot be kneaded by hand. And I use an all-purpose flour because it makes an even more tender dough than bread flour, and since this is really a sweet treat and not sandwich bread, robust gluten formation is not that important to me in this recipe.
The small touch of cream cheese filling helps add some moisture to the pastry, and helps keep the peaches in place as the brioche puffs in the oven. I would recommend making these smaller than I made mine, shape them into maybe 2" rounds rather than the big ol' boys I made here. You can glaze them with a simple powdered sugar & milk icing drizzle or eat as is, both are lovely. Best reheated just for a couple of seconds in the microwave after the first day.
I messed with a few different brioche recipes to come up with my own version that I believe is perfect for danishes. It's a very tender brioche, not heavy nor dense. These look like heavy sinkers (where I come from we call any substantial carby, sugary pastry/pancake a 'sinker' for how it feels like a rock in your stomach and puts you to sleep) but they are surprisingly airy and feathery.
So yes, this recipe takes forever and has a million steps. The best baking schedule here is to start the recipe in the afternoon or early evening, allowing for enough time for the first bulk fermentation, then allow to proof overnight, then you need a good 2.5 hours in the morning to shape and proof, then your pastries will be ready by late morning/early afternoon. Perfect for a brunch situation! You don't have to proof overnight, but you also don't have to eat amazing brioche, so look if you're going to go through this whole process why not allow yourself the most flavor development possible. It's a great weekend project to get lost in. And I promise you, all of your patience will pay off.
PEACH BRIOCHE DANISH
makes about 20 danishes
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. warm water
3 1/2 tsp. (15 g) active dry yeast
4 c. (510 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. (14 g) fine sea salt
1/3 c. (75 g) sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 c. unsalted butter, soft, cut into chunks
Peeled and sliced fresh peaches
for the cream cheese filling:
1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
for the egg wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. heavy cream
Mix heavy cream with warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add yeast and mix with a whisk until yeast is dissolved. Mix in sugar and 1/2 c. of flour to make a slurry. Dump all of the rest of the flour on top of the slurry, do NOT mix together. Add salt on the top of the flour. Let the bowl sit, undisturbed, for about 30 minutes or until the flour shows cracks across the top.
Using the dough hook, mix flour together with slurry, then add eggs and beat on low for 3-5 minutes until incorporated. Add softened butter in three stages, waiting for each addition to fully incorporate before adding more. Mix on medium low for 20 to 25 minutes, checking the dough towards the end to see if the dough is stretchy and smooth (don't worry about the windowpane test). The dough may cling to the hook and slap against the bowl--it is done if so.
Spray a bowl and some cling wrap with cooking spray and transfer to bowl, turning to oil the dough ball. Cover with the plastic wrap and leave in a draft-free spot for two hours or until doubled.
Punch down by folding in each 'corner' of the dough ball then flip over so the gathered seam is down. Replace plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
8-12 hours later, remove dough and cut into equal 1 to 2 oz. portions, roll into logs then twist into bun shapes. Place buns on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Place in draft-free spot for two hours or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix egg with heavy cream for egg wash and brush over danishes. Prepare cream cheese filling by mixing together softened cream cheese, egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Press an indentation in your danishes and fill with mixture. Add slices of peeled peaches, as many as will fit, or other fruit if you prefer.
Bake for 25-45 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm if at all possible. Ice when cool if desired and store in an air-tight container.