Sunday, June 29, 2008


Our June Daring Bakers challenge is to make a Danish Braid and is hosted by Kelly and Ben. Danish is a laminated dough with the addition of yeast. We used the recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I decided to use peaches again (just can't resist them this time of year) and blackberries. I also spread a little confectioners cream on the danish before I put the peaches and blackberries in. I followed the instructions as they were written but as I was rolling out my dough I realized there was too much flour in this recipe and it was over worked as there was a lot of gluten development from the long kneading process which is not desirable in a danish. I proceded with the recipe and it turned out OK but was not as light and flakey as it should be. The peach and blackberry filling was amazing.

I decided to make it again using the same recipe but using less flour and just a short kneading time to smooth out the dough. I whisked by hand the milk, yeast, sugar, zest, cardamom, eggs, orange juice and vanilla's. I made a caramelized apple filling (recipe below) just to try another filling. The adjustments in the flour and mixing process made a huge difference and the danish was light and perfect.

Here is my recipe with the changes I made. You can read the original recipe on either of the hosts blog.

(Makes enough for 2 braids) (2 1/2 pounds of dough)

IngredientsFor 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
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (may need more flour if you are in a humid area)
1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients 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 5 quart mixer and whisk by hand to incorporate. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and whisk by hand to blend all the ingredients. Put on the dough hook and add 1 cup of the flour. Mix to incorporate all the flour, put another cup of flour and mix again. Add the salt and as much of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough but still slightly tacky. Knead the dough for about 2 minutes, or until smooth. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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 - 45 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.

1/2 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups Filling,
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 fillings (see below) 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. (375 degrees for convection oven) 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 (325 degrees for convection oven), and bake about 5-15 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.

For the fillings:
3 pints of Fresh Blackberries
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Toss the blackberries and sugar together in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on full power in the microwave for 10 minutes, stir and cook 8 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, stir then set aside to cool and thicken. Refrigerate.

4 Cups sliced Fresh Peaches
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Repeat the above procedure with the peaches.

Confectioners Cream
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

In a microwave safe bowl whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream while whisking to incorporate. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and cook for 2 minute more or until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla then temper with the cream mixture. Return to the microwave and cook for 30 seconds more. Whisk, then transfer to a storage container and put plastic directly on the surface of the cream.

Apple Filling

4 Granny Smith Apples
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Juice of one small lemon (strained)
2 Ounces Butter

Peel, core and cut the apples in 1/4" slices. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the butter, and pour over the apples. Toss to evenly coat.

Put the butter in a saute pan and melt completely. Add the apple mixture and saute to caramelize the apples. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Use as a filling for the braid or as a filling for danish pastries.

Rasins or dried cranberries can also be added to this apple mixture after cooking.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful work!

Anonymous said...

your rolls and your braid look amazing, you did a wonderful job!

Anonymous said...

that braid looks perfect!!

Renee said...

Beautiful braid and pastry. Wow!

Y said...

I love all that drizzly icing on top of the danishes. Looks great!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm! The danish pastries looks so good - I want one! :)

Anonymous said...

Well done on the challenge. The recipe does feel a bit heavy on the flour side.

Anonymous said...

Your braid looks so good! Thanks for the tips about too much kneading and flour.