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Danish Braid – Daring Bakers Challenge

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:)

DANISH BRAID

Recipe for the pastry: Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
Recipe for the Chocolate Filling: William’s Sonoma

Components

Danish Dough: Dough (Detrempe) + Butter Block (Beurrage)
Filling
Egg wash

METHOD

DANISH DOUGH
Makes about 1 pound dough, enough for 1 large braid

Ingredients

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

DOUGH

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.

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.

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.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 1 large braid

Ingredients
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.

Egg Wash
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.


62 Comments
  1. Mmmmmm…. Nicely done! I like the chocolate filling. I had intended to half the recipe too, but had already mixed the yeast & milk when I remembered – oh well. Great job, sweetie! You always impress me.

    xoxox Amy

  2. Look really wonderful Farida!!!! delicious xxGloria

  3. salam.ne gozel seyler hazirlayirsan))hamisin basa dusmurem senin azerbaycan dilinde saytin yoxdu mende hazirlamak isteyirem)))))yazyagmurum.azeriblog.com

  4. FERIDE MAIL UNVANIMA YAZSANIZ SEVINEREM .RECEPLERINIZI ALMAK ISTEYEREM

  5. Farida, it looks absolutely yummy! I don’t know how I managed to forget about the chocolate. :) And your photos are amazing!

  6. Oh wow! This looks very tasty. I never made this before, but your recipe is not difficult specially that I am working on improving my dessert and baking skills :~) Nice photos too :)

  7. Oh that chcolate lloks so rich. The best part of baking this was the aromas.

  8. Did you say chocolate??? I could only imagine the taste, nice job Farida.

  9. That chocolate filled braid looks good and sounds great!

  10. That is such a cute looking braid…I’m sure your li’l ones must have adored it :-)

  11. Wow Farida it looks great! I even love the chocolate oozing from the sides! Your pictures are allways so nice!

  12. Looks delicious Farida! I went with strawberries, bet yours would have gone well with mine.

  13. your braid looks so good, i love your chocolate filling!

  14. A braid filled with chocolate? Great idea, Farida! I like the chocolate popping out… makes me want to scoop up a piece… or three. :)

  15. my, that looks amazing! now i wish i had made it!

  16. That chocolate’s oozing in all the right places! Great braid.

  17. Your braid doesn’t look too bad, Farida. I guess practice will make it perfect.:)
    As far as I’m concerned, with that pastry and chocolate in it, your braid is a winner!

  18. Wow Faride! I love the chocolate filling, my ultimate favourite!

  19. The bread looks awesome Farida…. The choc filling looks so so yummy!!

  20. I agree with your opinion about cardamom..It is so enticing isn’t it…

    Love the flavours that you used…

  21. I didn’t understand ypur explanation on filling on ingredient’s list you mentioned flour but not in explanation.
    I like and I’m curious toward this filling so I’m asking that is something new and more consistent than a ganache.
    and anyway…good job, farida

  22. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, DEAR FRIENDS, FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS!

    Enza: Glad you like the filing. If you scroll down the recipe you’ll see the Filling too. I am copy-pasting it in the comment anyway. It is really easy to make and is NOT RICH AT ALL – just cocoa powder no chocolate:)

    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 eggwhite

    To make the filling, in a bowl, combine the granulated sugar, 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.

  23. Farida, look who’s talking those photos of the danish braid are stunning and delicious looking too. You did an amazing job! BROVO!!

  24. OMG, i’m drooling! Your braid looks great and that filling is mouthwatering!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  25. Nice job! Love the chocolate filling yummm

  26. Your braid looks fantastic! I so wanted to make this but couldn’t find the time (find out why on my current post…) – yours looks absolutely delicious. Every time I see one of these braids I start drooling!

  27. i also had to use more flour too! but your braid looks delish, love the simple chocolate filling, i bet it was wonderful. and your first photo is beautiful!

  28. The chocolate filling sounds fantastic. Great job on this challenge!

  29. It looks absolutely scrumptious Farida! I love the filling and the almonds on top. Delicious! I am a cardamom addict too!

  30. wow your braid looks different, but beautiufl all the same and i am thinking why i didnt of chocolate!

  31. Chocolate! Inspired. Truly inspired. I have some great sour cherries in the freezer. I think a chocolate and cherry version might be in my future.

  32. i really like your braid (even though and maybe because it is different.) good job.

  33. Lovely braid!

  34. Hey that looks so nice and reminds me of the neatly combed plat . tempting.

  35. your chocolate filling looks especially delicious farida!

  36. what lovely braids you’ve got ;)
    awesome filling. it looks so lush!! fantastic as usual farida.

  37. Farida, it looks beautiful! I haven’t had breakfast yet and my stomach just started rumbling looking at the photos!

  38. THANK YOU ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR LOVELY COMMENTS!!!!!

    As to the CHOCOLATE FILLING, it is really NOT THAT HEAVY AND RICH, quite LIGHT I would say. It’s just cocoa powder and a limited amount of other ingredients:)

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:)

  39. Farida, I’m cheerleading for your perfectly delicious Danish Braid! And it’s a good thing you can’t see me because it’d be as painful to watch as it is for the cheerleader.

    Btw, I was ready to partake in a DBs challenge; I joined a while back but haven’t heard anything since … I’m on the verge of tears. But, you know, one bite of that danish would make me feel a whole lot better.

  40. Looks scrumptious!

  41. Personally, I really like the look of the chocolate peeking out – that way, you know what’s in there before you bite – looks amazing!

  42. I love the changes you made to the recipe…it looks so delicious!

  43. That filling looks to die for! Lovely job on this challenge!

  44. I love the way the chocolate is sort of hinting through the cracks, it’s beautiful!

  45. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, everybody!

    For your lovely comments!

  46. WOW!!!!!!! All i can say is only WOW!!! :)

  47. Killing me with this one! It looks soooo good!

  48. Yum…chocolate filled danish bread. Wow!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  49. Farida:

    WOW!!!!! Chocolate filled danish is just too sinful!

  50. Looks great! I wanted to halve it as well but forgot…oops!

  51. Yum! Chocolate braid…what’s not to like?

  52. Sorry I’m SO late Farida…that’s one great looking Danish you did! Love the filling too. This was mymost fun challenge too, & by far the greatest tasting one as well. True about the egg wash; not required. I did an egg-white wash on mine & it worked just fine. Am def doing this again once winter is here..& cardamom is the way to go Danish!! Cheers Deeba

  53. Excellent job! I know it can look intimidating but it was really easy after the first turn. Thank you for baking with us :)

  54. I have a treat for you in my blog,check it out..

  55. THANK YOU GUYS FOR YOUR LOVELY COMMENTS!

    Ben, thanks for such a wonderful choice for the challenge! My favorite so far!

  56. Hi Farida

    Got something for you dear..

    Swati

  57. Great job, Farida!

  58. That chocolate filling sounds delicious and looks so beautiful in the finished braid with the almonds on top. Great job!

  59. Beautiful braid Farida; I’m glad you enjoyed this challenge as much as I did!

  60. So professional looking, any bakery would be proud to display it in a case. Chocolate is a nice substitute for the more typical fruit fillings.

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