Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

I was so excited to find out that Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'? chose this month's Daring Bakers' challenge to be a danish braid! I knew this would be a real challenge for me because I've never made anything like it before. But I've wanted to make a laminated dough for a while and I really want to try making my own croissants, so this was just perfect. And how awesome does the pastry look when it's braided??

I definitely had some butter oozing out the sides (due to the butter block) and air bubbles being formed when I was rolling out the dough, but overall it went well! I didn't add the cardamom, and I don't think I'd make it using so much orange next time. I dreamed about how delicious a lemon curd filling would be enveloped in this beautiful danish braid, but then went the easy route and did the caramelized apples. And my boyfriend loves apple pie so I thought I'd be nice.

Of course I tried it right out of the oven, and as gorgeous as it looked it didn't have the texture I was expecting. I think I expected a more flakey croissant type pastry (which I realize was probably a strange thing to expect), but it was a little bit chewy? I don't know if that's the way this dough is, or if it was me (quite possible). When I had it after it had been refrigerated though, the texture was just perfect.

Edit: I just realized that I was not paying attention and didn't realize that this was enough dough for TWO danish braids, so I used the entire dough to make one braid. My braid was twice as big as it should've been! Ah well - it still turned out okay and hopefully I learn to read recipes more carefully. ;)

Other Daring Bakers' challenges I've done:
Cheesecake Pops
Perfect Party Cake
Lemon Meringue Free Form Tarts
Yule Log

Caramelized Apple Danish Braid
The Secrets of Baking

Danish Dough

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.

Without 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.
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.

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 (putting it all together)
Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

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.
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.

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.
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.


VeggieGirl said...

Bravo, Ashley!! Mmm, that apple filling sounds incredible for the danish pastry :0)

Anonymous said...

Nice! Look at those flakey layers!

Erin said...

Your braid looks wonderful! Your apple filling looks delicious. I feel the same way about the orange though- next time I'll either omit the orange or use less of it.

Cakespy said...

Yes, yes, yes! Bring on that ooze. This looks beautiful, and carmelized apple flavor!? Yes please!

DaviMack said...

Reading over some of the others' comments, it seems that the European contingent think that these weren't 'authentic' enough - because they didn't have that flaky dough. So I think that you're right - in your expectation and in disappointment. I, however, didn't realize I was making a Danish until I'd cut the thing, so had no such expectation. ;)

glamah16 said...

Looks heavenly.

Jes said...

Your braid is gorgeous!

Beth said...

Yours looks great. Wish I had sprinkled mine with sugar

Mary said...

I was surprised it wasn't flakier too. But your braids are gorgeous and look totally delicious too!

Sarah said...

Your braiding skills are perfect! I'm jealous! Great job!

Kevin said...

Your braid looks great! The pastry is nice and light and flaky looking and you can clearly see the layers.

Susie Homemaker said...

wow your braiding is perfect - so neat! i bet it tasted great too!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your braid looks absolutely perfect! I love the sparkly sugar on top. Well done on the challenge!

Claire said...

Great job! I think that croissants use more butter...maybe! This was a fun challenge and I really enjoyed the laminating process. Your braid looks just fantastic!

Parker said...

Oh my god I am so impressed, that looks incredible. Never made a danish myself, but this is really inspiring and I am really excited to try one. Also your photos are really nice.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful braid!!

Sarah said...

Looks amazing! I always wondered how those braids were made...thanks for the pictures! I love apple jealous I can't taste this danish right now. :)

Lorrie said...

your braid looks so buttery and flaky! you did a great job!

Shari said...

Look at all those layers in that last picture! Excellent!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Molly Loves Paris said...

Your Danish braid looks ever so delicious. I found that when I tried a slice of my braid just after it came out of the over it didn't taste as good as I hoped. That was at three in the morning, so I wasn't sure if it was my tiredness or what. But then at 8 in the morning I had a slice and it was terrific. It must be that the Danish needs to rest a bit.

Anonymous said...

Great photos! I love the apple filling. You had a perfect braid! Well done.

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

Great idea on a lemon curd filling! Yummmmm.... I too was excited to see this challenge (my first), as I've always wanted to make croissants -- I wonder how to get the dough more flaky though?

Grace said...

i gotta say, i'm with your boyfriend on this one--sweet, succulent apples over curdy lemon any day! what you've done looks perfect to me!

maybelles parents said...

lemon curd filling sounds wonderful.

mimi said...

i don't know if danish dough is supposed to be as flaky as the other kinds of laminated dough. but whatever, your braid looks delish! love the gorgeous color.

NatNibbles said...

Looks delicious! It came out great :)

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

That looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Your braid turned out so well, great job!

Deborah said...

The part about it making 2 braids was not very clear in the instructions, and I'm pretty sure you're not the only one who made one big one!! Yours is perfect, though- the braid is amazing!

celia kusinera said...

Beautiful braid and equally great looking pictures. :)

Rebecca said...

Your monster braid still looks gorgeous!

Katie B. said...

Your layers look terrific! Great job!

breadchick said...

Beautiful braid! Well done.

Heather B said...

yum! It looks so delicious! I love how the sugar looks on the pastry!

Hannah said...

Despite not halving the dough, your braid didn't seem to suffer a bit from it- Just lovely!

Anonymous said...

Great job, Ashley! You've got me drooling over that braid. Absolutely lovely! :D

Dolores said...

Your braid is beautiful Ashley. I'd have loved it filled with lemon curd. Great job!

Gigi said...

Picture perfect braid! The apple filling looks divine.

Jacque said...

Oooh, your apples look sooo yummy! Nice job on your braid.

I accidently made one (monster) braid too. D'oh!

Anonymous said...

Your dough looks perfect! I love the color your achieved on top. Beautiful braids.

Jen Yu said...

So fluffy and beautiful! nice job on your danish braid!!!

Ben said...

I am glad you enjoyed this challenge. Your braids turned out perfect. Thank you for baking with us :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I would have never known, if you hadn't said anything! Your braid looks fab!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Congrats on the Danish...brilliant braid. Very nice indeed

Michelle said...

It's amazing how you learn something after every challenge; whether it is to read a recipe properly or how to make buttercream. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Just found the recipe and made it tonight for dessert - came out PERFECT! Thanks for posting this!