Jun 29, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge - Sherry Yard’s "Danish Braid"

My first Daring Bakers challenge hosted this month by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? , and I have enjoyed it so very much! I loved the braid, it is aromatic, and delicious. Can't wait for next challenge!

I have made two braids, one with pastry cream, one with plum jam. Here is the process to making Danish braid, and it is not half as hard as you think, and every bit enjoyable, especially when your whole house smells like heaven, and then you get to bite into it!!! :)

Right now I am somewhere on my way to Florida for some much deserved "me time"! Well, as much as the kids will alow it! :)


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.

Dough, and braid B4 oven...

Danish pastry 1Danish pastry 2

Danish with pastry cream, then plum jam, and jam itself :)
Danish pastry 3Danish pastry 13Plum jam 2

Plum jam cooked by reduction:

Cook washed and pitted plums with sugar over medium to high heat until it starts boiling (your choice how much, I don't put much, they are sweet already). Later reduce to low, and cook until thick. Can as usual. Simple as that! :)

Pastry cream:

2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn startch
1 Tsp vanilla extract

Mix yolks with sugar, thenh add corn startch, vanilla extract, and mix until smooth and silky. Bring milk to boil, then add the yolk mixture, reduce heat to low, and cook for few minutes, stiring until it thickens. Cool completely before using!


chriesi said...

Looks great! Nice take on your first challenge. :)

Carrie said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! You did a beautiful job!!!!

Marija said...

That braid looks perfect! And I love the one shaped as pine cone, it's so cute! Great job on your first challenge!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Congrats on your first challenge, I'm on my fourth one and you get more into then as time goes on!!!

your braid looks fantastic

Shelby said...

Awesome job Medena! I didn't expect anything less from you! They look great!

Anonymous said...

It's beautiful!

Megan said...

My neighbor just gave me a bunch of plums and I have plum jam on my to do list today! Your braids look beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Great first challenge!

Robyn said...

Great job and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Anonymous said...

Really nice! Welcome to the group! I love what you did with your Danish Braid - it look oh-so-perfect. Have fun in Florida. Hopefully, the kids will allow you to have a mojito or two.

xoxox Amy

Anonymous said...

Medana, congrats on the completion of your first challenge! your braid looks amazing! Perfect! So well risen, golden! Wow wow. I want some your braid please!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful first challenge! Lovely photos and ideas, as always! Welcome!

~Amber~ said...

Your braids look wonderful. Great filling choices. Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge.

Anonymous said...

it's beautiful!! this is my first challenge to and i loved it!!

Anonymous said...

you did beautiful work, i love your photos!

Sandie said...

Great job on your first challenge, your braid looks perfect!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful looking braids! Great job on your first DB challenge! I hope to join the group soon as well :)

Anonymous said...

Well done on your first challenge! Welcome aboard.

Vera said...

Medena, your braids look wonderful! Congratulations with your first completed challenge!

silverrock said...

Wow! Your braids look beautiful, the one with pastry cream looks very rich... good thing you made one with fruits to balance it out :P Great job on your first DB challenge!

Anonymous said...

Your braid looks perfect. I love how well-filled it is.

Mansi said...

beautiful brioche! nicely executed:) and looks perfectly baked too!

Melita said...

Greetings from Tampa, FL!!!
Thank you all for such great comments!

Anonymous said...

Pastry cream and plum jam - sounds so divine... :)

Gizmo said...

This looks amazing! You are very talented to produce such a lovely delectable Danish Braid.

Patti said...

Beautiful job... looks awesome.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Your first challenge looks amazing!

Lunch Buckets said...

plum jam sounds wonderful! welcome to the group :)

Jen Yu said...

Gorgeous! That pastry cream looks terrific :) Hope you are having a wonderful time on your vacay!

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

I think I'm dribbling on my keyboard.

Miss Ifi said...

Congratulations on your first challenge!!! your braids looks amazing and the one that was filled with pastry cream looks soo yummy... I wish I could have a piece.
I hope that you enjoy baking with us!! Welcome and we are glad to have you as part of our team!!! ^_^

Meandering Eats said...

I love pastry cream and I love plums. Great choice of fillings! The braids look perfect. Enjoy your vacation!

Melita said...

Thank you all!!! I am enjoying my vacation so very much! It is beautiful on Marco Island!

RecipeGirl said...

Yay for your first challenge! Looks like it was a great success. Good choices in filling too.

Hope you have a good vacation!

Sogni Di Zucchero said...

It's beautiful!
Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge.

Anonymous said...

Come back from Florida already:)

I have a surprise waiting for you on my blog:)

taste memory said...

omgosh~you're creative juices a~flowin! agree with FoodMayhem: am dribblin.... ;-)

be gorgeous photos too + lovely writing my dear!

Anonymous said...

The food looks good and I like the way you make it and serve it.I am going to try it soon.

Deeba PAB said...

Congrats on a great first challenge..it looks absolutely YUM!!! I feel like making a Danish all over again! have a great holiday...you truly deserve it!!

chriesi said...

Hey hey, there is something waiting for you in my blog. :)

Shelby said...

Missing you Medena!

Helene said...

Welcome to the DB! Well done in your challenge! Wish I still had some in the fridge!

Anonymous said...

Two versions! They both look scrumptious.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous, and the plum reduction is something I know I'd love. Glad you enjoyed the challenge! Right now, a Braid sounds excellent. I'm "caked" out!

Antonio Tahhan said...

what a yummy danish bread!! but, where've you been?

lubnakarim06 said...

Wow. Looks gr8.

Tzun@mi said...

Simply perfect! I like it!! great job...bye