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Daring Baker’s Challenge: Danish Braid

June 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Daring Bakers | 16 Comments

This month’s challenge was definitely a daunting one! (as they always are…now that I think about it!). I have never used yeast before and this is about the third time I got out my trusty rolling pin from WS.

It was fun! I love rolling dough. 😀 And I love rolling dough even more when I know I am getting a delicious pastry out of it! I still have half of the dough in the freezer waiting to be shaped, filled and proofed! Hmmm..I’m thinking pain au chocolat needs to come about in this kitchen of mine pretty darn soon…

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
1) Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.
2) Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.
3) Sift flour and salt on your working surface (should have done this in a huge mixing bowl- running eggness all over the counter- of course!) 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.

BUTTER BLOCK
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.

APPLE & FIG FILLING
Ingredients:
1 Harvest apple, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
5 figs, cut up into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

1)Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.

2)Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 5 minutes, then stir in figs and cook for about 5 more minutes. Pour the cooked apples and figs onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.

DANISH BRAID
Ingredients:
1 piece of Dough (cut the rectangle prepared above into another rectangle)
1 cup apple & fig filling

For the egg wash: 1 large egg

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, 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 egg 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. ( I let mine sit outside (80deg?) for about 2.5 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.

I let mine rest overnight and had a piece for breakfast the next morning! Incredibly amazing and delicious!

Check out the rest of my daring bakers!

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16 Comments »

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  1. such a pretty braid, you did a great job 🙂

  2. Beautiful braid. Wasn’t that a PAIN and a HALF to make!!!?? Sorry I missed you at Roopa’s miracle fruit party – we were on vacation at the time. Your family looks lovely, too. How can you be Baltimoreans and I don’t recognize any of you? 🙂

  3. fig sounds lovely. yum.

  4. Looks flaky and perfect! I love the last picture!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  5. Oh! Apples and Figs!!! What a wonderful filling combo. Wonderful job your braid.

  6. Well done, especially for you first go at yeast. The stuff is really great to work with. Your braid looks very nice. I like rolling pins so much I have at least 6 of them, all different.

  7. Yours looks pretty tasty also! Next time I have to roll out some dough I’ll call you to come do it, seeing how you like it so much blech! 🙂

  8. Your braid looks great! I think a chocolate filling would be oh-so-delicious…. there was mention of a lemon curd filling too that has my mouth watering. In retrospect, I wish I had filled the two braids with different fillings… oh well, next time!

  9. See! I knew you were a genius cook! Can’t wait to hear how the farmer’s market menu turned out!

  10. I just loved working the dough myself 🙂 Your danish looks really delicious, nicely done 🙂

  11. Yeah! You did a fabulous job! I love that you added figs to your filling!

  12. Why didn’t I think to freeze half? Good idea!

  13. Are you sure you’ve never used yeast before? .. because your danishes look so good! Doubly amazing, for a first time effort!

  14. Your braid looks delicious and flaky. Nice filling too. Good job!

  15. Ooo, apples and figs, nice combination! Great job on the braid!

  16. Your apple fig filling sounds fabulous! I love figs, I can just taste it. Great job. Your braid looks really good.


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