DB#20 or the Danish Delight


I wouldn't miss a Daring Bakers challenge without a good reason. By the middle of June, 2 piles of exams to grade on my desk, 1 week working trip abroad and a messed house started to look like a very good one... Then one more or less free afternoon, I grabbed the ingredients, and made the danish pastry without further thinking. In between turns I took clothes to the laundry, ordered some pounds in the bank for my flash trip to London, made a fig salad and removed the suitcases from the closet. When the pastry was ready, divided in 3 parts and frozen, my mind was already racing to something else. Last Friday when we were back from a marvelous trip (I'll tell you all about it later - bear with me!) directly into an important working meeting and with a wedding taking place on Sunday (today) I started wondering if I would after all miss the challenge... Before going to bed, I moved the frozen pastry to the fridge, and made the braid shortly before heading for the hairdresser, put it in the oven on my way back. It ended up not that pretty, and there was no time for the photos but heck, was it good!

I have to thank Kelly and Ben, our Daring Bakers hosts this month for another nice recipe. I hope I can try it again with a little time to actually enjoy all the details.

Danish Braid
Inspired by Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking

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.

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.

Danish Braid

Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough
filling of your choice

- 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.
- 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.
- 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.

Proofing and Baking
- 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.
- Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
- 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.


My thoughts on the challenge:
- Once I got the sense of the all process (ie. the turns), the pastry was a breeze to make. Mine worked great with the cardamom and orange flavours.
- With an empty pantry and no time to think about it, the filling was what I had available: 4 peaches, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of orange juice and a handful of sliced almonds.
- The pastry leftovers were large enough for a couple of pastries filled with mozzarella, tomato, sliced black olives and dried basilic. The combination (with the cardamom and orange in the pastry) was a bit unusual but I liked it.
- As I still have some frozen pastry, I'll try the original apple filling provided with the recipe.

Check out all the other Daring Bakers Danish creations at the blogroll. Apologies in advance if I don't get to your blogs immediately, I'll do my best to visit in the next couple of days. Right now I have some make up waiting for me and a wedding to attend!


Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Peach filling sounds fantastic and am sure with the cardamom it tasted divine. YUM!

Zita said...

Both of your savory and sweet fillings sound so delish ;)

Ann said...

Beautiful braids!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I think I felt similarly. I did it, but didn't do it quite as I might of liked. I hope to tackle this ones again! I think yours look lovely though!

culinography said...

Beautifully done! The peach filling sounds lovely!

Jeanine said...

I think you did a wonderful job! I'm glad that you were able to squeeze it in, it's worth it!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Mas que determinação Suzana! Ainda bem que a fizeste, o recheio ainda que tenha sido quase improvisado devia estar optimo! E o salgado a fazer lembrar uma pizza deve ter ficado excelente! Bem vinda de volta!

Aparna said...

The Danish in your picture looks quite good. Personally, if it tastes good, that's all that matters in the end. The proof of the Danish is in the eating.:D

momquixote said...

Amazing that you got this done with so much on your plate -- plus, the peach, almond and honey filling sounds SO good!

jillian said...

The peach filling sounds delicious and very summery

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gorgeous peach filling Suzana! It looks lovely to me. This was so amazing to see all the different fillings people are using. Sounds like a grand trip!

Lorrie said...

so pretty :) you did a great job

Sweet Tooth said...

Wow - Gorgeous looking pastries! I love it, when the filling looks as delicious as your peach one. Those pictures are nice!


Aran said...

they look absolutely divine suzana!!! great job!!!

Deborah said...

I'm so glad you found time for this challenge, because your pastry is beautiful!

Joey Biscotti said...

both the savory and the sweet sound delicious!!! We're glad you found the time to make and share with us!

linda said...

I'm impressed you managed to make the braid! It looks and sounds delicious!

ChichaJo said...

They look delicious! I'm so sory I missed this challenge...but I'm definitely still going to give this a try! Even if I don't know how this will fare in the heat of my kitchen...

breadchick said...

Peach filling would be perfect with this! Well done.

Re said...

Can't believe you found time to make this. Way to go!

Jen Yu said...

I like how you improvised and threw this together. It looks AWESOME. I am so impressed. Great job!

Claire said...

Great job! This was a good bread to make if your busy b/c of all the waiting time it requires. I love the pizza pastry.

Mónica said...

Está lindo o teu danish delight, Suzana. Essa fatia está absolutamente irresistível!

Tartelette said...

Wonderful take on the challenge Suzana! Love the peach filling!
Your cherry extract left today...sorry for the delay but I have a rather big project on my hands :)

Sophie said...

We'd like to invite you to participate in our July berry recipe contest. All competitors will be placed on our blogroll, and the winner will receive a fun prize! Please email me, sophiekiblogger@gmail.com, if you're interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details. (Click on my name in the message header link to visit our blog. :)