Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Danish Braid

Here we are again - another tasty Daring Bakers Challenge! This month's challenge is the Danish Braid! This month's recipe was by DB members Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'? . The recipe is from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking. I don't have this book, but if the other recipes are as easy to follow, I should look into it!

Here are some facts about Danish dough:
• Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered doughs with puff pastry being the ultimate. Danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, however, where as puff pastry is not.
• The process of making Danish dough is less complex than that of puff pastry, but equally as important to achieve best results, and a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated doughs in general.
• Danish dough is extremely versatile, and once made can be used for a variety of baked goods. The possibilities are endless.

I put this one off till 2 days before the deadline - I was feeling nervous about the project - I thought all the new techniques would be too difficult. I haven't made anything with yeast in a long time, and I'm not a good dough roller. But as with last month's challenge, I was surprised with how easily I was able to make this! I also enjoyed being creative with the filling! I used an almond cream and cherry filling. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to make, so I just searched the internet for recipes that had ingredients I was currently stocked up with. (This is partly why I didn't use the apple filling - no apples left!) I had some fresh black cherries, and I had leftover almond meal from last month's challenge. I found this recipe for Almond Cream (and I may make the entire recipe soon - looks tasty!), and this recipe for the cherry filling.

So- here is the recipe as it was given to me. I'll include the apple filling recipe I was given too - it looks like a tasty filling too!

• Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough
• Detrempe – ball of dough
• Beurrage – butter block
• Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns. Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Directions if you don't have a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

(Look how beautiful the dough is - flecks of orange zest and black vanilla seeds)
(You can see some of the butter squirting out of the dough after the first turn. I just smeared it back on the dough before folding it again.)

4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Almond Cream
- makes about 1 1/4 cups -
Ingredients :
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg, at room temperature

Working in a food processor, put the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the workbowl. Process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended. Add the flour and cornstarch, process, then add the egg. Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use immediately or refrigerate until firm. (Keeping: The almond cream can be packed airtight and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator, then beat it with a spatula or spoon to bring back its original consistency.)

Cherry Filling
1 pound bag frozen pitted cherries, or pound fresh pitted cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp lemon juice

Place cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pan. Heat on medium until cherries begin to release their liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until cherry mixture has thickened.

I pitted the cherries by hand after cutting them in half. Luckily I have this great kitchen scale to weigh the cherries - thanks to my good friend Lili who gave it to me for my b'day!

This is what my hands looked like after the cherries!
Apple Filling
Makes enough for two braids
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Danish Braid
Makes enough for 2 large braids *
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see above)
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
*I cut the dough in half before beginning these directions, then followed the directions for each half of the dough. The size was smaller, but I made sure it was 1/ inch thick.

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
I made indentations in the dough before I began cutting to make sure the cuts would be even and would leave enough room for the filling.

3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
(I did this AFTER the proofing. See picture below)
Proofing and Baking

1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours **, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
**Proofing Temperature For Fresh Dough (room temp) For Refrigerated Dough
Degrees F Degrees C
70 ~ 21 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. 2-1/2 to 3 hrs.
75 ~ 24 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hrs. 2 to 2-1/2hrs.
80 ~ 27 1 to 1-1/4 hrs. 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.
85 ~ 29 45 min. to 1 hr. 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
90 ~ 32 45 min. 1 hr.
This was our temp, and the dough was refrigerated overnight, so I proofed mine for a little over 2 hours.

And I did the egg wash AFTER the proofing - I didn't like the thought of the egg sitting on the dough for 2 hours!
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.
This braid was looser - it looked at bit like a ribcage. We ate this one today!
This braid was perfect! I'm very pleased with how it turned out!
Of course I sample the braid today. I loved it. I really enjoyed the orange and cardamom flavor, and I thought the filling I made turned out well. I think it could have used some more filling, but I was afraid of it getting messy and bubbling out. Next time I'll add more filling for sure!
Be sure to check out all the other amazing Daring Bakers versions of the Danish Braid by visiting the Daring Bakers Blogroll!
One final note: The flavoring of the dough was pretty strong, and my husband is apparantely not such a fan of the orange/cardamom combination, so sadly he did not enjoy my fine creation. I'm not going to take it personally (or I'm trying not to anyway!), because I know that taste is very subjective. Oh well, more for me....


bunny said...

your braids look great! mine could have used more filling too, next time i'll load it up!! you did a great job!

Robyn said...

I made a cherry one and got that cracked ribcage look on it too. I also waited to do the egg wash after proofing for the same reason. Great job!

Suzie said...

Wow Paula- I wish I was still next door so I could have a taste test. The fillings look so good. I love your pictures. Sounds so yummy. It would be perfect with my cofee right now...

Jenny said...

Your braids look marvelous, and I'm sure the cherry was perfect with the orange/cardamom of the dough.

Lorrie said...

your braid looks good, I agree about the filling, I wish I would have put more in mine too!

Rigby said...

Your Danish Braids came out nicely :) I love your step by step pictures!

landa said...

Your braids look awesome and your fillings look divine.

Dolores said...

Your almond cream sounds sensational... and a great use of last month's almond meal. And I could have used your photographic essay on how to braid the dough when I was trying to figure it out for myself late Friday night. :) Great job!

BC said...

I was nervous about this one too, but I'd make it again in a heart beat.... well, once the weather cools down.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Cherry and almond, yummy! Nice pictures!

bonnie said...

great photos!
loved your post.

Anonymous said...

Very nice looking. The filling looks quite tasty from here!

Carmella said...

The almond cream and cherry filling sounds yummy. Great job with the braids.

Angela said...

The braids are beautiful--it didn't look that ribecage-y to me--and I love the fillings you used.

Leslie said...

Yep..mine lacked on the filling! I guess i was just scared it would overflow! Your braid looks yummo

broadcasting from a knitting parlour said...

Cherry fingers. Nice. Great pictures, too. Great job!

broadcasting from a knitting parlour said...

Cherry fingers. Nice. Great pictures, too. Great job!

silverrock said...

Oooo cherry filling, that sounds divine. I choose blueberries for mine. Your braid looks lovely, and wasn't this so much easier to make than that opera cake?! I thought so :P

Sarah said...

yum! your filling sounds amazing! Nice job

The Stressed Baker said...

Wow your braids look fantastic! I am jealous mine definetly did not come out as good! The step by step pictures are great!

marye said...

wow you did so many images. What a great tutorial!
Excellent job.

Jen Yu said...

Very nicely done! I think they look beautiful. I too waited until pretty late to make my challenge and that always makes me nervous (in case I screw up and run out of time!). Excellent job on your braids :)

Anonymous said...

What a great combination for the filling! I will definitely have to boil my fruit mixture down as you did the next time I make this recipe.

Claire said...

Beautiful braids! We didn't have cardamom or oranges, so I used cinnamon instead...thankfully everyone likes that!

Amelia Bedielia said...

Those cherries look fabulous! Great job on the braids!

Lauren said...

Mmmm. Almond cream. Yum. Your braids look amazing!

Renee said...

Thanks for all the great photos. Your braids look yummy.

Lunch Buckets said...

The guy that lives at my house is no big fan of the flavorings either - not that it really slowed him down :)

Anonymous said...

Very nice braids, despite the small bit of separation they look wonderful!!! And lucky you that the official taste tester isn't a cardamom fan!!!!

Lynne said...

I was just checking out the Daring Bakers and came across your blog. Your cherry braid looks great! Noticed all your PC products in your recipe pictrues- haha, I'm a consultant.

The Stressed Baker said...

Wow your braids look amazing, so much better then mine! Thanks for the step by step pictures that will definetly help me next time!

Also, Amelia from Diary from the Last Frontier hit me with meme and as a fellow DBer its your turn! I hope you don't mind I figured it would be a fun way to meet some DBers.....The rules are on my website -