Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Baker's: Danish Braid

I was so excited to tackle this month's Daring Baker's challenge because I looooove flaky pastries! I don't know why I didn't tackle it sooner than last week though. I guess with me having the summer off, I get a bit lazy.

Reading through the recipe, I was nervous. I've never even heard of a laminated dough before! With all the turns, and rests, and turns, and rests, I was pretty intimidated.Luckily, Ben and Kelly provided some footage from Beatrice Ojakangas w/ Julia Childs, and another showing how to turn the dough. They were a wonderful resource and put my fears of making this pastry at bay.
While sitting on the couch one evening I started to concoct some filling ideas out loud. Chad heard this and said "Why can't you just make plain old apple?". Hmmm, there was a suggested apple filling I thought, and agreed that I would use that and make "plain old apple".
Once I got started, it was really easy to do, just a bit time consuming.
Other Daring Baker's had some problems with the butter block oozing out, but thank Jesus, my rolling went smoothly.
I decided to divide the dough into three and make 2 braids, and pinwheels for the last third. I ended up omitting the zest and orange juice from the recipe since I planned on making savory pastries

My first braid, I did the apple, the second I made a blueberry-strawberry compote, and topped that with Dorie's basic pastry cream.

I wasn't the best at the braiding, but it still came out beautiful!

I filled the pinwheels with spinach, finely chopped crimini mushrooms, prosciutto, sauteed onion, garlic, Parmesan, finely chopped mozzarella, nutmeg and pepper.
I love how these turned out, they are perfect for an appetizer or just a little bite.

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 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.

Makes enough for two braids
Ingredients (I halved this recipe)

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.

This was a very fun and great learning experience for me, Thank you Kelly and Ben!
Make sure you head over to the Daring Baker's blogroll and see the other members wonderful danish braids.


Peabody said...

Fun that you made savory pinwheels. Everything looks great.

Anonymous said...

I love your take on the recipe! Savory and Sweet! Can't beat that!

Rebecca said...

Your pinwheels sound delicious. I made sweet and savory Danish braids, too. Great minds think alike!

Anonymous said...

Everything looks wonderful! The blueberry-strawberry filling with the pastry cream looks delicious, and I love the savory pinwheels.

Anonymous said...

At last a savory!!! It, as well as the other fillings, sound very very good!!!! And all in all it wasn't as bad as it initially sounded, I suspect alot of us will be making these again and again!!!

Great going!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ally, absolutely awesome pictures! And your fillings sound (and look) fabulous! I especially love the savory one - I might have to replicate that!

Anonymous said...

GORGEOUS examples of beautiful danish!! I so want to make this again and do a savoury braid as well - yours looks so yummy!! :)

Robyn said...

These look great!

maybelles mom said...

savory pinwheels sound wonderful.

Leah said...

I love the idea of the spinach pinwheels, yum!!! I'm going to keep this in mind when I get ready to use the second 1/2 of my leftover dough.

Anonymous said...

Great filling! I love the sound of your spinach filling - looks delish! Great job!

Anonymous said...

wow! your braids look so yummy, you did an amazing job!

Sarah said...

Your braids and pinwheels look fantastic! I love the fresh fruit in your photography too . . . hinting at the flavors within. Great job and creativity!


Molly Loves Paris said...

All your products looked great. I am especially interest in you savory rolls.

Celeste said...

WOW...I want one of your savory pinwheels! Everything looks simply divine!

Marce said...

oh my, the savory pinwheels look amazing, I could have one of those right about now. And the braids look fantastic as well, I agree with you, the same thing happened to me, the braiding can be a little imperfect and still look gorgeous once it´s out of the oven.

Mary said...

They all look fabu. I love your savory combination. I now wish I had done one as well.

That Girl said...

The blueberry strawberry looks soooo good!

Shelby said...

WOW, I love the spinach pinwheels! Great job and great photos!

Ben said...

Great job on all your creations. they look so delicious!

Thank you for baking with us :)

The Irreverent Cook said...

Beautiful, your pinwheels are gorgeous! Looks absolutely delicious, my one regret for this challenge is that I didn't get the chance to make a savory braid!!

Anonymous said...

They all look great, I really like the pinwheels!

Jacque said...

Mmmm, they all look fantastic! I especially love the coloring on the berry & pastry cream braid. Great job!

mmmaria said...

I love the idea of savoury lovely! Especially pretty photos, too, with all of those happy little berries.

Beautiful post!

Bunny said...

ohhh your braids look yummy!! great job!

Anonymous said...

your braids look so good!! the next time i make one i'm gonna put a white glaze on that looks to good!

Maryanna said...

That looks great, and sounds delish! Good job!

Sass said...

Cor. That's good. Good move to split the pastry into three. Sounds like you've got a better handle on the quantities than I have.

TheRavenousMommy said...

Looks delicious! Love the variety..they all came out great :)

Simply Marilla said...

The little spinach ones look delicious and would make a perfect appetizer. Also, your doung looks perfect with all the layers.

Anonymous said...

I love the little pinwheels! Well done.

Anonymous said...

Yours braids look so yummy!

Dolores said...

Yay... more savories! I love love LOVE your pinwheels, and your sweet scented braids look great to. Can't wait to try your spinach/prociutto/mushroom combo in my kitchen!

Joey Biscotti said...

those SAVORY ones sound SOOOO tastee!

Amelia said...

Great job! My husband made me scroll back up after seeing your savory danish go by hehe. He's already hinting at when I'm planning on giving that filling a try!

Anonymous said...

Your braids and your pinwheels look amazing!! I'm so impressed by your creativity.

Stephanie said...

Wow! Your Danish braid looks gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I LOVE that spinach mixture. YUM.

Jen Yu said...

That looks incredible. I am especially fond of the very few savory versions people have done! Lovely little individual pastries too :)

Unknown said...

Wow, all of this looks fantastic, especially the pinwheels! Great job.

Jaime said...

mmmm those savory ones look so good!