Danish Braid – I’m no longer afraid!

June 29, 2008


Such a corny title. But so apt.

Pastry has always intimidated me. I always thought that only pro-bakers or high end machinery could give some good pastry dough. Luckily for me; this myth was shattered after I made a Danish Braid for this month’s Daring Baker challenge.

This month’s challenge I hosted by Ben of What’s Cookin’? and Kelly of Sass and Veracity. I love the challenge they picked because it left a lot of room for creativity. We were free to fill the Danish Braid with anything we wanted. This way I made one sweet and the other savory.

This recipe is from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking. This video on YouTube is an informative watch.

DANISH DOUGH
(Makes 2-1/2 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 (I used very little since I’m not too fond of it)
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

DOUGH
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.

FILLINGS
SWEET: Apple
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon butter

Toss all ingredients into a pan and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Let it cool completely before using as a filling.

SAVORY: Cheesy Chicken
2 chicken Frankfurters
100g cream cheese
Cracked black pepper
1tsp garlic powder
2 piri piri chillies
Salt






DANISH BRAID
(Makes enough for 2 large braids)

What’s required:
1 recipe Danish Dough
Filling of your choice

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. I then sprinkled some granulated sugar on the apple danish and some toasted black sesame on the chicken danish.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil 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.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 steph- whisk/spoon June 29, 2008 at 4:16 AM

they look lovely! i bet cheesy chicken was tasty!

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2 Megan June 29, 2008 at 4:19 AM

Ohh, one for breakfast and one for lunch. I should of done that!

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3 Cakelaw June 29, 2008 at 4:46 AM

The cheesy chicken sounds yummy!

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4 Dolores June 29, 2008 at 7:12 AM

I’m with you… this challenge took the fear out of laminate pastry. And I LOVE your savory chicken-cheese braid.

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5 Molly Loves Paris June 29, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Those are lovely Danish Braids! I’m intrigued by the savory one, but how did it taste?

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6 Shaheen June 29, 2008 at 1:35 PM

The savory one was very good. In fact, even better than the sweet one. Everyone like the cheesy chicken danish a lot more than the other.

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7 zorra June 29, 2008 at 1:56 PM

After all these sweets I would like to have a slice of your hearty Danish. Right now please! :-)

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8 ostwestwind June 29, 2008 at 4:22 PM

If you know how, it’s surprisingly easy to make the pastry. Your braids look gorgeous, well done!

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

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9 enza June 29, 2008 at 4:24 PM

one of few savory I saw, and sooooo yummy great job

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10 mamma3 June 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Fantastic the salad version! Elga

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11 Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen June 29, 2008 at 11:18 PM

Great job! The cheesy chicken sounds great!

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12 Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen June 29, 2008 at 11:18 PM

Great job! The cheesy chicken sounds great!

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13 Rachel@fairycakeheaven June 29, 2008 at 6:47 PM

ooo gorgeous savoury filling!! sounds fantastic and am inspired to make one for our dinner tonight with my leftover pastry

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14 Robyn June 29, 2008 at 7:15 PM

They look and sound great!

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15 Lorrie June 29, 2008 at 7:41 PM

your cheesy chicken sounds so yummy!

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16 bonnie June 29, 2008 at 10:03 PM

cheesey chicken sounds and looks great!

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17 Angela June 30, 2008 at 3:56 AM

Your braids look great. Well done!!

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18 Susie Homemaker June 30, 2008 at 12:11 AM

cheesy chicken??? oh wow what a great idea! they both look great though – but I will def be trying out your idea!

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19 breadchick June 30, 2008 at 2:27 AM

I LOVE the cheesy chicken combo! Great job on the challenge this month.

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20 onespicymama June 30, 2008 at 6:52 AM

I’m glad you’re no longer afraid of danish braids! Cheesy chicken sound great!:)

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21 momquixote June 30, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Two delicious braids!

I wish I had tried a savory one, too. Maybe next time!

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22 Marce June 30, 2008 at 9:29 AM

wow, your braids look lovely and the cheesy chicken combo sounds perfect.

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23 arjwiz June 30, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Nothing better than the cheesy chicken sausage one. The apple one with the sugar sprinklings was great too!

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24 PAT A BAKE June 30, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Your Sweet and Savory look Ohhh Soooooh Goooooohhhd. ;) Good job with your challenge. All the best for the future DB challenges.

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25 marye June 30, 2008 at 9:24 PM

I have seen a few savory braids today and they all look so good!
You did a great job.

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26 Deeba PAB June 30, 2008 at 9:11 PM

Beautiful flavours coming out here Coco…love both, the sweet & the savoury! You’ve had fun on this one…I loved it too!

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27 Jen Yu June 30, 2008 at 10:18 PM

Yay for savory!! I did one sweet and one savory as well. Yours sounds sooooo good. And yes, there is no need to be afraid – you are now a master jedi baker :) Fantastic job on the challenge.

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28 Patti June 30, 2008 at 10:34 PM

Your braid is beautiful. I loved this challenge, too.

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29 Cynthia July 1, 2008 at 1:55 AM

These are outstanding. You make me want to go into the kitchen and bake.

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30 Dana McCauley July 1, 2008 at 5:58 AM

Great work! Your braids are deluxe.

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31 ~Amber~ July 1, 2008 at 6:15 AM

Your filling combinations sound wonderful! Beautiful braids.

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32 Laurie July 1, 2008 at 7:18 AM

These look fantastic!!

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33 Claire July 1, 2008 at 7:41 AM

I just really want to do a savory version. This looks great! Nice job.

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34 Lunch Buckets July 1, 2008 at 10:26 AM

nicely done!`

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35 maneesh July 2, 2008 at 1:20 PM

c’est tres bien.. oh that is not danish.. but conveys the sentiment nevertheless… :)

mouth watering stuff purps..

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36 Ben July 2, 2008 at 8:42 PM

You did a great job, congratulations! Thank you for baking with us :)

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37 Rosa's Yummy Yums July 4, 2008 at 8:24 PM

Great! Your braids look delicious! Very well done!

cheers,

Rosa

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38 genkitummy July 5, 2008 at 5:57 AM

mmmm…your braid looks delicious! i like the black sesame seeds on the top!

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39 Arundathi April 2, 2009 at 10:02 PM

amazing!!! and thanks for the link to the video – that was really informative. and loved his accent too! :-)

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