Time’s up! Posting the June Daring Bakers Challenge. This month we had to bake Danish Braid, something I had always wanted to make but never dared, up until I had to:)) The hosts are Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? to whom I am eternally grateful for choosing such a fun and delicious, at first intimidating, but really really easy challenge.
This has been my favorite challenge so far! I embraced it wholeheartedly, especially when I read cardamom (we say HIL in Azeri) in the recipe:) It is my favorite spice of all and I am addicted to its aroma and taste:) I always have some in stock in my cupboard. In Azerbaijan we use cardamom for pastry fillings, to flavor jams, preserves, drinks or hot tea so the smell of the Danish brought back sweet memories to me.
Here’s my experience with the challenge, in bullet points.
– I used only half the portion. Cut the ingredients in half.
– Rolling the dough into 15 X20 inch rectangle was a little too optimistic:) Mine hardly made 9 X 15.
– I used lemon juice instead of orange because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store.
– I didn’t use any zest.
– I didn’t use vanilla bean, just a pinch of vanilla powder.
– I had green cardamom pods at home. Powdered them using a mortar and pestle.
– The recipe says 3 cups flour for 2 breads. I used more than 3 cups for one bread!
– The butter block was a little runny but towards the last turn it got harder. I am blaming hot hot California weather for this, he he.
– I used Chocolate Filling from Willams-Sonoma Baking book. The possibilities for the filling are endless. They are already lined up in my mind and I am going to try them all, one after another. I really love this recipe. Will make it again. Next time, a larger braid.
– Also I didn’t have to rotate the braid after 10 minutes of baking. Just lowered the heat and baked for another 15 minutes.
– I used 1 egg to brush the egg and it was more than enough, I personally thing adding egg yolk too is not really needed.
– My braid was a little narrow, looked like a snake. And you can see chocolate popping out of the flaps:) I’ll do a better job braiding next time:)
The recipe below yields one medium braid. It is based on the original recipe but I adjusted it the way I made it. Please check out my fellow daring bakers for their beautiful Danish Braids. I am off to devour what’s left of mine before it disappears:)
Recipe for the pastry: Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
Recipe for the Chocolate Filling: William’s Sonoma
Danish Dough: Dough (Detrempe) + Butter Block (Beurrage)
Makes about 1 pound dough, enough for 1 large braid
For the dough (Detrempe)
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup whole milk
1/6 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, chilled
1/6 cup fresh orange juice (I used lemon juice)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. Chill in the refrigerator 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 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.
Chocolate Filling (Makes enough for 1 large braid)
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz / 45 g) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
To make the filling, in a bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, butter, cocoa, and cinnamon and mix together with a pastry blender or your fingers until the fine crumbs form. Stir in the egg white just until well blended.
Makes enough for 1 large braid
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
1 cup chocolate filling
For the egg wash: 1 medium egg
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 9 X 15 -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.
Whisk the whole egg in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Proofing (Rising) 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 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.