Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Danish Braid

The challenge this month was a danish braid, which involves an rich dough layered with butter to give it the nice rise and buttery flakiness that we all so enjoy. I've made danishes quite a few times, and have always had good results. They tend to be one of my most requested baked goods...

On to the recipe, it is a little different then the one I normally use, specifically it calls for orange zest and juice in the dough. I think this added a nice dimension to the finished product, so I will probably continue to add that in the future. Every time I make these I wish I had a dough sheeter :)

They came out really well. I decided to make nine smaller braids that are more easy to eat with your hands and have them not fall apart. I made the apple filling and used that for some. The rest I filled with a mixed berry compote that I made with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries (all the berries are in season here now finally, so I couldn't resist using them all). I liked the berry mixture better, but I'm not a cooked apple fan so I could have been biased.

My friend came over and gave me a photography lesson, so hopefully my pictures from here out will be much higher quality. Thanks Dave! The picture is so much better I put it before the recipe :)


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.


Erika said...

Your braids look great and so does the photo. Will your friend come to Boston and give me some tips? :)

Tarah said...

Beautifully done :]

Erin said...

Your braids look beautiful!

HoneyB said...

Great idea to make the mini braids! They look delicious!

Madam Chow said...

I really like the idea of the mini braids. I have to work on my photography, too, and your photo looks great!

madcapcupcake said...

Oh, I absolutely love the little braids - they are beautiful!!

Rebecca said...

I love the small braids! What a fun idea. And the photo is totally cookbook-worthy.

breadchick said...

Very pretty braids! Well done.

Joey Biscotti said...

Steven saw these as I brought up your blog and thought, "We should have done that!" (make the mini braids, that is)... the berry compote filling sounds amazing!

Amanda Barkey said...

wow, your photo looks so cute! thanks for the comment on my blog, I was thinking that since this is my first month doing DB that I wouldnt get any comments so it was a welcome and pleasant surprise!!! And I agree, the berry compote filling sounds awesome. :)

shellyfish said...

Your braids look divine, and what a great picture! Your friend's tips must be good ones!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

They look awesome!

What's a dough sheeter?

rainbowbrown said...

Oh my, the mini braids were a fantastic idea.

Claire said...

Your braids are so cute...they looks like little cruller sticks, except bread and not doughnut!

Jen Yu said...

Such beautiful braids! They look amazing. Awesome job on the challenge :)

Jaime said...

i love the mini braids you made! nice photo :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice job! Think I could borrow that friend for an hour or two?

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your photo lesson really paid off! But I think your danish would look good no matter how you took the picture! Love the hand sized danishes!

Dolores said...

Great job! I love your idea of individual sized braids. Is your photography instructor taking students? :)

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