I need to talk to you about ugly good. A mess of burnt potatoes, oozy egg, and ketchup on your plate first thing in the morning is ugly good. Have you ever had celery root? That’s totally ugly good. Those pumpkin muffins that you still ate even though they made like amoebae all over the pan are ugly good. Quince is ugly good and a gluten-free quince cream cheese danish that went into the oven looking pristine and came out a hot, delicious mess is the absolute ugly best.
Loving the ugly stuff isn’t easy. I’m a perfectionist-and-a-half when it comes to baking because I don’t want people to think gluten-free treats suck. (BECAUSE THEY DON’T!) So when I peeked in the oven and saw that my danish had undergone some sort of tectonic shift and busted a valley down the middle, I quickly declared it a failure.
Then it came out of the oven all golden and flakey with bits of pink poached quince peeking out. I swooned. It looked like it was made with the clumsy fingers of stressed-out lady who likes to make delicious things with weird fruits, butter, and love. That’s ugly good.
PS: Now’s probably a good time to admit that I bought 15+ pounds of quince last weekend, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of the wonkiest of fruits here in the coming days.
Quince Cream Cheese Danish, Gluten-free
- 1/2 batch poached quince*
- 3 oz millet flour
- 1 oz tapioca flour
- 1 oz potato flour
- 1 oz oat flour
- 1/2 t xanthan gum
- 4 oz (one stick) cold butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
- as needed ice water
- 8 oz (usually one package) cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 T powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- Prepare the poached quince as directed. Strain and reserve the poaching liquid.
- Mix the millet, tapioca, potato, and oat flours with the xanthan gum in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork, pastry blender, or your two hands (my preferred method, but work quickly) until it is well incorporated, but visible flakes of butter remain. (You're making a basic pie dough here.)
- Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. It shouldn't be tacky, but should be just wet enough to hold together.
- Form the dough into a short, stout log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- While the dough chills, whip the cream cheese with the powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 T of the quince poaching liquid until no lumps remain. Set aside.
- Tape a piece of lightly greased saran wrap to the counter. When the dough is ready, place it on the plastic wrap, cover it with another sheet of plastic wrap, and roll it out getting it mostly rectangular (don't stress about this, you'll see mine is not especially rectangular).
- Spread the cream cheese within about an inch and a half of all the sides, except for the long side closest to you. On this side leave a bit more room too seal the danish (see pic above).
- Lay the poached quince slices in a single layer on top of the cream cheese mixture.
- Now un-tape the furthest two corners from you and using gravity and the saran wrap, roll the danish, applying pressure to seal the seam. Once rolled, use the same method to seal the ends.
- Use the plastic wrap to lift the roll and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the long seam facing down.
- Brush the surface with the egg and score the top.
- Bake at 375 until outside is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
* Use 1/2 batch of this David Lebovitz poached quince recipe. I cut them into a bit smaller, 1/2 inch segments to make them more manageable to roll into the danish.
- My saran wrap rolling method, which really makes working with gluten-free doughs very easy, came from Manifest Vegan.
- As always, if you’re not gluten-free, you can replace the dough with your favorite recipe for a single pie crust.
- I realize this isn’t strictly a danish, but the only other thing I could think to call it was “pie roll.”