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!


Hay, hay, it's Alexandra!

I know it took ages but please welcome the wonderful winner of HHDD Choux Edition: Alexandra of Addicted Sweet Tooth!! Her perfect & delicate Passion Fruit Cream Puffs got the hearts (and the votes!) of many participants. Congratulations Alexandra!

A big thank you to everyone who took part in this round of HHDD! I had so much fun choosing the theme, making choux, waiting for the awesome entries, and having this brilliant winner. Obrigada!


Where am I going?

I hate to pack and unpack my bag but I love to leave and to come back... It's my way of finding balance in my trips - I'm happy to travel and always happy to get back home. Mr. Henry Miller used to say: One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. A working trip will take me to a country I've never been to. I'm looking forward to meet my colleagues, and anxious about how it will go. But of course I'm willing to know a new city, and taste new food!

As you will miss me terribly (won't you?), I'm starting a little game. So... here's the deal: I'll provide 5 clues about where I'm heading for, and you just have to post a comment here with the right answer. A randomly selected winner from those who guessed right gets a food related little something from my destination.

Ok? Good. Now on to the clues.

The country I'm going to:

1. Shares land borders with 4 other countries;
2. Uses the Latin alphabet in its official language;
3. Has a national cuisine that shows a strong Austro-Hungarian influence;
4. Offers braided loaves with different stuffings (such as meat or vegetables) as most popular foods;
5. Has a tiny strip of seacoast on the Adriatic.

Extra clue is the national team hasn't qualify to Euro 2008 football championships. Does it help? ;-) Portugal is playing Germany next... heck! Força Portugal!

Where am I going?

I'm off to Paris for the week-end, and to mystery country next week. You'll hear from me by the end of next week... na svidenje !


HHDD#20 - the Roundup!

I'm sorry it took so long to post the Roundup. It's being hectic with the end of the school year, my weekend in Paris approaching and my (working) trip to east Europe. But wait no more! Ready for the fun? I hope you all had a great time with the theme I chose for this edition of Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day, because I did! Choux pastry can be tricky, and I knew choosing Choux could be a little scary for some of you. But, as I hoped, you rose to the occasion with some great creations, and made me a very happy host!! Thank you all for taking part of this event.


I want to start the roundup with mastermind and creator of HHDD, Barbara of WinosandFoodies made some lovely Green Tea Choux Pacman for Donna. She thought the choux looked like little pacman, but I always found the little ghosts to look more cute than scary, and I think the same about the choux. Just adorable!

From New Zealand, Arfi Binsted of HomeMadeS sent delicious looking Gougères, flavoured with raclette cheese and Italian parsley, and sprinkled with ground smoked paprika. Definitely the right appetizer for any occasion. Yum!

Talida from Talida Bakes sent these good looking Matcha Profiteroles from New York. The green tea is such a clever addition to the choux pastry, and I would be more than happy with a cream puff that not only is light but also tastes light!

From sunny Aix en Provence, France, Dhanggit of Dhanggit's Kitchen joined with a delightful creation: Profiteroles in lychee ice-cream with cherry chocolate sauce! Does that sounds great or what?? Not to mention the lovely photos that make you want to lick your computer screen.

Y of Lemonpi from Sydney, Australia (Oh one day, I'll make it there!) made another great Gougères. If you're like me, you never have enough of these beauties! plus, Y added the most fitting soundtrack to go along: To build a home, by The Cinematic Orchestra. Perfect!

From Spain, Tartasacher of Mil Postres brought an awesome classic with choux pastry: Cake Saint Honoré. The cake is named after St. Honore, the patron of bakers, and it's a must for any baker. I'm yet to try it myself... Great entry to celebrate choux and bakers in May, since the 16th of May is St. Honore day!

Fellow Portuguese pastry chef Rita from Clumbsy Cookie joined with a pair of adorable Choux Shoe! Made me sing "these boots are made to walk", and think these shoes have to be great to bite!

From Victoria, Australia, Pam of Backyard Pizzeria sent her delightful version of Chantilly Cream Puffs. She made the most beautiful, not even a bit tacky, Chantilly Swans. Wow!

Lisa of Spicy Ice Cream from Sydney, Australia added the luscious Chocolate and Ginger Profiteroles to try something new. Did I just write Ginger?? Ginger and Chocolate has to be delicious with choux pastry... I love the idea!

From dreamy Thailand, Bordeaux of Marita Says served Thai-inspired Profiteroles. Kaffir lime, Thai iced tea and Pandanus make the most amazing collection of local favorites that I'm dead curious about. The Thai Profiteroles not only sound great but also look great, and beautifully photographed. What else can I say? I’d been hoping for creative recipes, and this certainly fits the bill!

Chichajo of my favourite blog 80 Breakfasts joins from hot Manila, Philippines. What's better than chocolate? Double Chocolate, of course!! Joey sent over the one and only Donna Hay's Double Chocolate Choux. Double cool!

From Auckland, New Zealand (another place I'm yet to know), Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy made simple gruyere gougeres simply perfect for nibbles to go with drinks to welcome some friends. I’m sure they loved it! Looks great!

Angela W of A Spoonful of Sugar from Bristol, UK offered the most fitting Profiteroles Alla Gelato Di Fragole All'Aceto Balsamico (or Profiteroles with Strawberry-Balsamic gelato) to welcome British summer. Strawberries & Cream are synonymous of Wimbledon for me, and Profiteroles with Strawberry-Balsamic gelato sound equally appealing now that the major tennis championships are almost here!

From Utah, USA, Holly of Phe/MOM/enon made spectacular Choux Funnel Cakes. Doesn’t it sound funny and like something you’d like to try? And don't they look stunning? The low is the cakes really aren't figure-friendly but who cares, right?

New York based Alexandra of Addicted Sweet Tooth surprised me with her lovely photos of perfectly adorable Cream puffs. Alexandra showed how pastry choux versatility can be truly yummy in its simplicity!

Melody of Fruit Tart played with choux pastry to 'choux' us some really cool stuff. Look at the awesome Chocolate Cream Puffs the perfect ice cream cookie sandwiches! She also made another version to combine white chocolate mousse leftovers (daring baker on board!!), and created a nice little package with some drippings on top!

From The Netherlands, Linda of make life sweeter! (isn't that an amazing title??), sent over some pretty Éclairs with lavender white chocolate mousse that Linda thought tasted a bit like soap due to a very strong lavender extract. The lavender lover I am bookmarked the recipe for further use. Wish I thought of that before!

Over from Australia, Ellie of Kitchen Wench made a break from her new hobby of crocheting to bake a batch of Sugary-Almond Mocha Profiteroles to join us. I am so glad Ellie chose to join the fun with this event, sharing her beautifully photographed Profiteroles!

Rachel of Fairy Cake Heaven is based in Ireland, and shared Choux filled with Orange Honey Cream and Cardamom Icing. The photo may not do it justice but the thought Orange, Honey and Cardamom makes me want to have at least a couple of those choux. It has to be delicious!

From San Francisco, Denise & Lenny of Chez US made lovely Sweet Choux to add to this event. The sugar pearls give the right classy touch to a simple classic. Love it!

And last but (not at all the) least, Bron Marshall the fantastic caretaker of HHDD offered beautiful Snow Choux, together with the most fitting wintertime and awesome snow photos. Not to miss for nothing in this world!

And that's it! Thank you so much for sharing and making my first-ever event so enjoyable!

Voting begins today, June 16th, and runs until midnight (GMT) on Monday June 23rd. Email your choice to me at gourmetsamadores [at] gmail [dot] com before the deadline. Participants only. The winner will be announced shortly after, depending on how it goes with my trip since I'll be on the move from Paris to a city in East Europe*.

*The reason of all the fuss about where I'm going is because I want to play a little guessing game with you. More on that later! ;)


The 3 Fs

Favas com Chouriço

In the last century, Portugal was under dictatorship for almost 50 years. During that time, the "3 Fs" - fado, Fátima, and football - provided some sort of collective anesthesia more than welcome by the regime. Music, religion, and sports were all the people would need to keep going with their miserable life and not complain. With the end of the long-term Salazar dictatorship, the trilogy became old fashioned. It was time for the new real "three Fs" to stand forward. Nowadays for the Portuguese, family, friends and food are inseparable... We usually meet around the table, eating and chatting through the afternoon or the evening. Food is as much an excuse to talk to friends as talking is to meet up for a meal.

I don't cook traditional Portuguese very often. Either because I'm not really good at it or just because I grew up eating world food instead of deep rooted Portuguese dishes. Or just because I'm too lazy to make the effort to reinvent some old classics, like some promising young chefs are doing currently in the Portuguese Cuisine scene. But I made a promise to give it another try to Portuguese food a while ago. When my kitchen was invaded by broad beans, aka favas, I just knew the time had arrived.

Favas com Chouriço
Broad beans with Chorizo

Serves 4

400 grs fresh fava beans (about 2 cups), peeled twice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large chorizo (best quality), sliced
1/2 glass white wine
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped + extra stems
a bunch of garlic leaves (optional)
1 tsp pimentão doce (paprika)
Cooked rice, to serve

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, and add the chorizo slices. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove the chorizo to a bowl. Add the onions, garlic, and garlic leaves (if using) and cilantro stems. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fava beans, the pimentão doce and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until favas are cooked. Return chorizo slices to the saucepan. Add chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with cooked rice.


Hay, hay don't forget about Donna Day!


Just a little reminder about Hay, hay it's Donna Day: the Choux edition that I have the honour to host is approaching its deadline. I've received a bunch of great entries from lovely fellow bloggers but I still miss a few of you guys... (Yes you, I'm thinking of you!). Next Monday, June 9 is the last day to send your profiteroles, gougères, beignets or any version of choux you like. All late entries will have to send me a box of whatever you're baking. ;)

We'll be cheering our football/soccer national team together with some friends and family later in the afternoon when Portugal meets Turkey for the Euro 2008 football European Championships. Because I've been wanting to try gougères for a long time, and gougères make the perfect fingerfood for today's match, a batch has just come out of the oven. Don't know how the match will go (tell you about it tomorrow...) but the gougères are ready to go. Força Portugal!

Cheddar Gougéres
Adapted from Saveurs, n.160 Avril/Mai 2008

½ cup (120 ml) water
½ cup (120 ml) milk
80 grs unsalted butter
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp (120 grs) all-purpose flour
4 eggs
½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated + ½ cup to top

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Place the water, the milk and butter in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook, stirring over low heat until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese. Place in an electric mixer and beat on high, gradually adding the eggs until well combined. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing enough space in between for the gougères to double size. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Allow to cool slightly in the oven for 3 minutes, leaving the oven door open. Cool on wired racks.