Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Danish

My first Daring Bakers challenge!

I've joined the legions of adventurous baker/bloggers who have banded together to challenge each other with new and exciting recipes each month and share their experiences, challenges, and successes. I am excited to have jumped aboard the Daring Bakers express and I look forward to the new challenges to come. It's a pretty fun idea. It started with two friends (Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice) back in Nov. 2006 with the idea to bake the same recipe (pretzels) and compare results. Soon others realized that could be quite fun, and about 20 challenges later, the Daring Baker Blogroll stands at over 1,000 bakers.

This months challenge was a fun one for me because it lived up to the spirit of the whole Daring Baker concept. I have never made Danish or a laminated dough and probably would not have taken it on with out the impetus of the challenge and deadline.

The danish dough recipe we were given worked out really well. It was a very compliant dough, even in my warmer than ideal kitchen. The dough is scented with orange zest and cardamom and I made an almond cream and a cardamom plum compote for the filling. The end result was fabulous and worth the hours of rolling, folding, chilling, rolling, folding, chilling...I still have some of the dough left, and lots of almond cream so I think I am going to roll quasi-croissants and fill them with the cream.

The finished product was flaky and delicious!

It was a lot of fun, and I am excited to have an excuse to try new recipes, fill the house with new smells, and fill the belly with new tastes.

The freshly mixed dough had a wonderful touch and already smelled fabulous

Mixing the butter block

The butter block has been spread on 2/3 of the dough which will then be folded like a letter

The first fold - the dough is then chilled, turned, rolled and folded again several times before a long rest.


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
¼ cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¼ 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.


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.

Slits are cut on either side of the rolled dough so the filling can be braided into the danish

Filled with almond cream and plum compote

The braided dough set for a final rise

It was looking good, better than I expected, but anything could happen during baking so fingers were crossed.


Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see above)

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.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Stupendous!! Totally Rocked out first challenge!!!! Both baked and unbaked your braids look perfect!!! Welcome to the DBers!!!!

HoneyB said...

Great job and it looks beautiful! Congrats on your first challenge!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on an awesome first challenge - looks wonderfully delicious! :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Your braid looks great and ever so delicious!



Deb said...

Beautiful!! This looks wonderful ;) I love the idea of plum and almond. Now if I only had a big stand mixer so I could make it too...

Danielle said...

E, this looks AMAZING. I love that you found this new community to be a part of. The strange ways in which the internet enriches our lives . . .

Angela said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Your braid looks (and sounds) gorgeous! Will have to try one with plum compote myself, once our tree comes into fruit.

breadchick said...

Great job on your first challenge!! Well done!!

silverrock said...

WOW! The braid looks amazing. Almond cream and plum compote... that combo sounds so tempting. Great job on your first DB challenge :)

Claire said...

Welcome! Your bread (and dough) looks fantastic!

Jen Yu said...

How wonderful! Your braid is terrific looking and it's your FIRST challenge? You're the stuff that Daring Bakers are made of :) Welcome to the DBs and congrats on a successful and gorgeous first challenge.

Ben said...

Great first challenge. Welcome to the group and thank you for baking with us.

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the group! Beautiful job :)

Wade said...

Ethan, that looks delicious! Now that you're getting into this bread making groove, I need to plan more trips to CA. Hope all is well with you and your fam!