Daring Bakers Danish Braid – Better Late Than Never!

by Holly on July 4, 2008

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Because this month of July is turning out to be even crazier than June was, I am so so glad that I was able to get the time this past week to make the Danish Braid from June’s Daring Baker’s challenge. I was determined to get to it and though I didn’t get to it until after the posting date and I didn’t get to make all the variations I wanted to – let me just tell you – I am SO glad that I got to it! This dough is so good!!! And, it was fun to make!

Well, since I’m still a crazy person I’m going to keep my comments brief, but the dough was flaky, tender and tasted wonderful. I used the combination of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in the dough instead of cardamom and it was delicious. For my filling I made a simple cream cheese filling and a layer of raspberry jam.

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The other half of my dough is in the freezer, just waiting until I have another chance to do something fun with it and makes some other pastry shapes.

Thank you to Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for choosing such a wonderful selection for June that got me to try making something I’ve wanted to for a long time.

The recipe for the Danish dough comes from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking.

DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

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

DOUGH

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.

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. 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.

CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, sotened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

2/3 cup raspberry preserves

Beat all ingredients (except the preserves) together in a mixing bowl until smooth and light, approximately 3 minutes.

DANISH BRAID

Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients

1 recipe Danish Dough (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 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.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

culinography July 5, 2008 at 1:03 am

Better late than never! Looks wonderful! 🙂

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Manggy July 5, 2008 at 2:22 am

Cream cheese AND raspberries (preserves? heh)? I am THERE! Happy Independence Day to you!

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Melanie July 5, 2008 at 2:24 am

Holly – it looks like it was worth the wait because your braid looks wonderful! Just how mine was supposed to look!!

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Erin July 5, 2008 at 2:32 am

Your braid looks so pretty! The raspberry and cream cheese sounds like a delicious filling.

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Shari July 5, 2008 at 3:13 am

Cream cheese and raspberry sound perfect! I’m glad you got the time to make it!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

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rainbowbrown July 5, 2008 at 5:12 am

This danish browned beautifully. Good to see you got to do it.

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Jenny July 5, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Looks good, well worth the wait.

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Jules Someone July 5, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Gorgeous! Thanks for the tip about the honey peach ice cream. Did you make it yet? I’ll be attempting it mid-week.

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virjennifer July 6, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Totally agree, June may have been crazy but July is rearing its ugly head with busy-ness. You did a fabulous job! My other half is also in the freezer, waiting patiently.

Love the spice medley you chose in the dough. Great job!

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Mevrouw Cupcake July 7, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Your braid looks perfect! Well done!

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Jenny July 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Good for you for finishing your braid, it looks beautiful!

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Dolores July 7, 2008 at 7:39 pm

It’s gorgeous… great job!

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ChichaJo July 8, 2008 at 1:25 am

Your braid looks lovely…better late than never indeed! I wish I was able to do this challenge 🙁 I’m definitely saving the recipe as it’s gotten a lot of happy reviews 🙂

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Allergy Mom July 8, 2008 at 2:24 am

Yours went up before mine did! (And it’s absolutely beautiful.) Libby

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Bumblebutton July 9, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Your braid looks wonderful, and I love the fresh bright flavors you chose! Yum!

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Jaime July 10, 2008 at 3:33 am

certainly better late than never! your braid looks wonderful!

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Deborah July 10, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Even though this recipe was a lot of work, I’d have to say it’s been one of my favorite challenges so far. Your braid look sgreat!

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Jacque July 10, 2008 at 8:13 pm

Your danish braid looks fantastic! Congrats to you on seeing it through. It was totally worth it.

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Aran July 10, 2008 at 11:38 pm

I’m glad you were able to complete the challenge. it turned out beautifully!

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Claire July 12, 2008 at 1:26 am

Mmmm…raspberry and cream. SOunds wonderful! Great job!

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Gabi July 14, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Lovely braid Holly!

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