Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

This is my first Daring Bakers event and man, am I excited to join this group of bakers!  When the challenge was revealed to be the Danish Braid, I was thrilled, as I've been eyeing one danish recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook for months now, but was too intimidated by how labor intensive it was.  Now, an excuse to buckle down and try it!

Danish dough, like many pastry doughs, requires you to use a beurrage, or butter block, which you wrap in dough, rollout, fold, chill, and repeat for several "turns" of the dough.  This leaves you with dough that is flaky and light.   (the recipe is full of fun french terms like beurrage and detrempe, which makes it shmancy and cool)

This month's hosts, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What's Cookin'?  left us to be as creative as we please with the filling.  I chose a filling of raspberry jam and almond filling, which made it kind of like a linzer-torte, kinda like a fancy pb&j. 

A few weeks later, pulled the rest of the dough out of the freezer and made a danish extravaganza for the people at work.  this time: cheese and fresh raspberry filling, the tops glazed with a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze.  This time the dough proofed better and rose much more.  


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.

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.

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.

Almond Filling 
courtesy LOR in the Kitchen
1 1/2 cups blanched slivered almonds (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Blend ingredients in processor until nuts are finely chopped. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill at least 2 hours.


ostwestwind said...

Great looking braid, absolutely delicious!
Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Temperance said...

it looks very good, and the filling sounds great.

Susie Homemaker said...

i was too scared to freeze any - but i am so glad to know it works out just great! nice job!

Lorrie said...

i bet this tasted great, you did a marvelous job!

Jacque said...

Mmmm, your fillings sound wonderful! Welcome to the Daring Bakers :)

~Amber~ said...

Beautiful looking braid! Welcome to the Daring Bakers.

Robyn said...

Great job on your first challenge!

Heather B said...

Welcome to the DBs! I love participating every month and seeing everyone's results. Your braid looks delicious! Great job!

Di said...

Great job on your first DB challenge! I did cream cheese and raspberry, too, and it was delicious. =)

Debyi said...

Your braids look amazing! Great job. Your fillings sound scruptious.

Amelia Bedielia said...

I love your braid! It looks so delicious :D. Great job on finishing your first Daring Bakers Challenge!

Guess what - Tag... your it! Ashely at Memoirs from my Kitchen tagged me earlier today, so I am bestowing you with this wonderful task as a fellow DB freshman! Check out the meme rules at my blog

breadchick said...

Well done on your challenge!!

sleepingbearinthekitchen said...

Now thats a schmancy first challenge!!! Great go!!!!

Dolores said...

Congratulations on your first challenge and welcome to the Daring Baker insanity. You did a fabulous job with your braid... it's beautiful!

Claire said...

Raspberry...yum! Great job.

Jigginjessica said...

Your braid looks great!

Jaime said...

great job, and welcome to the DB!