29 June 2008

2nd daring bakers challenge • danish braid

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?.

How did I feel about this chalenge? I loved it! Other than being a little time consuming, it was very easy to do. My only problem was getting it to rise. It seemed rather flat to me. We had the choice of using a different filling than the recipe stated. I had some sour cherries in the freezer from last summer that had to be used—so I placed a layer a homemade marzipan on the bottom and a layer of sweetened cherries flavored with almond extract on top. I made it on Father’s Day as a treat for my husband. He thought it was delicious. Instead of making another braid with the remaining dough, I opted to make individual twists with apple butter. We actually preferred the twists.

Danish Braid •


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.


Anne said...

Awesome job!! I love your twist, too!

kat said...

the twists are a nice idea. i think everybody thought the dough didn't rise as much as it should. good work on getting through this one, it was hard!

Ben said...

The braid and the twist look delicious! Great job.

Thank you for baking with us :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great braid! Very well done!



Aparna said...

Maybe they didn't rise much, but the braid and Danish look real good. My braid didn't rise either.

Grace said...

what a lovely cross section--it looks totally and completely appetizing. and twists with apple butter sound utterly amazing. bravo!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job! I should have made a twist! Neat idea!

Kristen said...

Great Job! The twists with apple butter sound delicious!

JMom said...

I love the idea of the twist with apple butter! I'll have to try that out next time.

Katie B. said...

Yum - your braid and twist look just perfect! Great job!!

Anonymous said...

I was totally sold when I got to marzipan and cherries...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Sounds delicious Toontz! Sour cherry sounds fab, especially with marzipan!

Debyi said...

Your braid looks really good. Cherries sound so good as the filling. I really like your twist too.

Jen Yu said...

nice job on your db challenge this month! it looks terrific :)

Elle said...

Yum cherry and marzipan! And apple butter was a great choice for the twists. Both beautiful!

Francijn Brouwer said...

Nice idea to use marzipan!

Miss Ifi said...

mmmmm apple twists!!! those look delish!!! and your braid looks really pretty too!!!
Congratulations on your challenge!

breadchick said...

I love the twist on the Danish!

Well done!!

Andrea said...

Oh, the twists are a great idea! Now I know what to do with the left over dough. :-)

White On Rice Couple said...

Great braid! These look so hard to do, but since you said that are easy, I just might try it!

Claire said...

Those twists look so good! Great job!

Dharm said...

sorry I'm so late on this! Sour cherries and marzipan - oooh you evil temptress you!

parsnips aplenty said...

Always bookmark a recipe that includes a section called "butter block". Beautiful!