June 29, 2008
June’s Daring Baker’s challenge was to make a danish braid. When I first saw the length of the recipe and all the steps, I considered dropping out of the Daring Bakers – it seemed like far too much work, and to be honest, I didn’t think the end result would be worth all the effort. Well, I can’t say that I would ever make this dessert again, but I do think it was worth making once.
I halved the recipe, since I couldn’t see myself eating that much danish braid, so I had enough dough to make a single one. It was easy enough to prepare the dough – I had no problems with it getting sticky, and the butter block rolled smoothly into it. I did use the cardamom, as it was easy enough to find, and for the first time, scraped out a vanilla bean, hence the little black specks in the dough. I didn’t do the five turns as recommended, but came close enough.
I let the completed dough sit in my fridge a bit long – the weekend came and I got distracted. Rolling it out was tricky, and I admit, i got a bit lazy and sloppy, not worrying about straight edges. The filling was a cream cheese one, with orange zest and lemon zest. I spread it on the dough, and topped it with fresh raspberries.
It was easy to cut the slits in it, and I thought I pinched them together well enough after I stuffed it with its filling, but half of the danish split open when it was baking. Its final result was named “pastry pig,” – I thought it looked more like the victims’ bodies in the movie Alien.
Looks aside, the danish was very good. I’m not a big danish fan to begin with, but that certainly doesn’t mean I won’t eat this one with delight. The pastry was very light, very crispy and flaky on the outside, and getting slightly moister as you get to the centre. It was slightly buttery and sweet – a really good, delicate pastry. I liked the filling – it wasn’t sweet at all, and the raspberries added a nice tartness and brightness. Next time, I would probably add a bit more filing – though maybe not, considering the explosion of pastry that happened to one end of the braid!
Thanks to this month’s hosts, Kelly from Sass and Veracity and Ben from What’s Cooking, for having me bake something I would’ve never done myself! Check out all the other Daring Bakers to see all the fillings, sweet and savoury, and all the beautiful danish breads.
Danish Braid with Raspberries and Orange Cream
adapted from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
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
BUTTER BLOCK (BBEURRAGE)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FILLING
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest from one large orange
Zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Combine all ingredients in the stand mixer and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or up until 24 hours.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. – 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.
5. 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 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough
filling of your choice
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.
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.
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