The June Challenge of the Danish Braid is my first Daring Bakers Challenge. I can't even begin to tell you how cool this was. I made a Danish Braid. I MADE A DANISH BRAID! To Read More, Click On The Recipe Title.
My husband said when it came out of the oven looking all golden and delicious I was dancing around the kitchen. I don't remember dancing but I was happy, very happy! It was 10 pm and I waited all day for this so I probably did dance...a little. Hee hee. Sorry, some of the pictures were a little fuzzy, I'm not a good picture taker to begin with and add in doing the dance of joy and you get fuzzy pictures. Like the one up there. But they all didn't turn out that way thankfully!
So, do you know what I worried about the most with this braid? It wasn't the dough, it wasn't worrying about butter oozing out of it, it wasn't the turns. None of that bothered me, it was cutting the strips and making sure that it stayed together while it baked, I WAS SCARED TO DEATH to cut those darn strips! But I'm getting ahead of myself, first came the dough. I made it in my kitchen aide and didn't have a problem with it. I didn't use the cardamom, it was to expensive, I used the substitute of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in equal portions instead. I also didn't use the vanilla bean, again to expensive. The dough was sticky so I added about a 1/4 cup more of flour while mixing. Everything was fine........till I started rolling the dough out to the measurements in the recipe. It was way to thin at those measurements, ugh! The butter block went on fine, but the rectangle?
I swear I tried to roll it out to the size rectangle that it was suppose to be, this is what I got, if you squint yours eyes and look at it long enough it kinda looks like a map of the US and the long thing is Florida. At this point I'm thinking maybe it wasn't a good idea to pass Geometry Class by the skin of my teeth. Ok think positive ,if nothing else I've discovered dough art. I gave up on the measurements and just eye balled it after that mess. I had to tuck Florida in and fold it 3 times just to make it look SOMETHING like a rectangle.
This is my little mess after the first turn. The dough was soooo soft!! I knew it was gonna be good just by the way the dough felt! I'm not gonna show you pictures of every turn but this is what it ended up looking like after the fourth turn.
I finally made it look like a rectangle! The fourth turn is over, it's in the fridge now for 5 hours and I have the dreaded strips to look forward to. I'm probably the worst person in the world for cutting a straight line in anything! So after I whined for awhile ( it took a few minutes til he heard me) my wonderful husband devised a way for me to measure the strips 5 inches long and 1 inch apart without me screwing it up! He got this little wooden round thingy that measured exactly 1 inch in width, then he took a pencil, cut it off at a 5 inch length and I had what I needed to make perfect strips!!
All I had to do was put the round thingy down to measure 1 inch and then put the pencil down to measure the length of the strip and make a cut, so that's the way it went, round thingy, pencil, round thingy, pencil all the way down and on the other side!! Not even I could mess it up!! Then came the apple filling. I don't have a picture of it on the dough darn it, so on to the completely braided dough and my sweet husband Sam.
I made the dough into one big braid and put it on the longest cookie sheet I had. Now to let it rise. It was kinda cool the day I made this so I turned my oven on to 350 degrees, got it hot, turned it off and opened the door slightly with the dough sitting on top of the stove. After most of the heat was out of the oven I stuck the braid in the oven and let it rise.
It rose up beautifully! I was so happy with it!! Now it's time to bake it. I made the egg wash and brushed it on. Then I made a streusel topping to sprinkle on top and put it in the oven. I turned the oven light on, got myself a chair and sat by the oven and watched it bake! The smell was wonderful! And when I thought that the color was the most perfect golden brown I took it out of the oven.
And then the dance of joy started and with camera in hand I took pictures!!
I don't think I've been this excited about baking anything in a long time. This was a great first challenge, after this I feel like I could tackle anything! I will be making this again and again in different forms and fillings, and that's the beauty of learning how to make this braid. There are so many options. Thank you Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin for such a great recipe and thank you Daring Bakers for helping me push myself out of my baking comfort zone!
And now the recipe!
Danish Braid from Sherry Yard"s The Secrets of Baking
Makes 1 1/2 pounds dough
Ingredients 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 pieces1/2 cup sugar1 tsp. ground cinnamon1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped1/4 cup fresh lemon juice4 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.
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.