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April 5, 2010 / Wendy Joan

Easter (Cotton) Tales

I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction of Playing House the last few weeks. I’m happy to report that I have been knitting and canning for pay, and I am so excited, thrilled and grateful for the interest shown in these endeavors!

That being said, you and me both are wondering what poems about longhorns in Texas, dead fish in Bradenton and lovey dovey photo essays about punk rock have to do with a “beginner’s guide to domesticity.” I think I’ve figured it out. But, first the Easter recipe!

The Puff

From where I come from, Easter isn’t Easter without a Danish Puff Pastry. Often referred to as a “Danish Puff” or simple, “the puff,” this dessert—crumbly, light, airy and sweet— has been served in our family for generations. And, today I made it for the first time.

The Recipe

There are three simple steps to the puff: a bottom crust, top layer and icing. Prep work is easy as pie, and the most time consuming part is the baking.

1. For the bottom crust, you’ll need

1 cup flour

1 stick (4 oz.) butter

2 tablespoons water

In a mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour using a table knife. Sprinkle the water over the top and work in with the knife. The dough should be loose, and it’s important that you not overwork it.

On a large, ungreased baking sheet, drop the dough into two mounds. Using your hands, work the dough into two 3×12 inch strips. Set aside.

2. The top layer

In a saucepan, bring to a full boil

1 cup water

1 stick (4 oz.) butter

Remove from heat and immediately add

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon almond extract

Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture fast and hard until it is smooth and glossy, and leaves the sides of the pan.

Add one egg and beat until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Repeat with a second egg, then a third. By the third egg, the mixture should appear shiny and not leave the sides of the pan.

Using two spoons, scoop and drop the mixture on top of the bottom crust. Using a table knife, gently spread over the bottom crust.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until golden brown. To test, tap your knuckle on the puff—if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

3. The icing:

While the puff is in the oven, make a frosting out of confectioners sugar, milk and almond extract. The frosting shouldn’t be stiff, and it definitely shouldn’t be runny.

Ice while the puff is warm (but not directly out of the oven), and top with sliced almonds.

Per my Mom’s directions, the puff should be “cooled, cut, displayed on pretty platter.”

..

The Realization

I think Playing House is about integrating the past and the present. As I was baking, I couldn’t help but realize what an atypical Easter morning I was having. Wake up in The Villages, have coffee with Jill and the Hughes, drive 2+ back to Sarasota on sunny I-75, stopping at multiple convenient stores to find confectioners’ sugar, coming home to sleeping boyfriend, and wrapping his gift, a copy of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.

But Easter dinner is constant, as is the puff pastry. And making the puff pastry allowed me to have an Easter Day just the way I wanted to, and retain family tradition, which I totally dig.

Playing House isn’t about Emily Post etiquette (though this biography is on my wish list)  or perfection or being a good little housewife, it’s about gleaning knowledge from the older and wiser,  and integrating those lessons into our hectic everyday modern woman lives. And, if I write about Sikhs in the U.S. military and bowling alleys, I can only hope that there are just as much use in those stories as a vegetarian french onion soup recipe.

..

Happy Spring, and thanks so much for reading,

—Wendy Joan

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Pam B. / Apr 6 2010 7:51 am

    Wendy-
    Absolutely love your current post and am so proud of you! Hope you thought of Grandma and family times while making the pastry – it’s so good to have traditions! I love your esthusiam and your desire to share your observations and experiences – always look forward to your next blog around the corner.

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