Daring Baker #7 Danish Braid

>> Sunday, June 29, 2008

This month's challenge, hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking?, was a Danish Braid adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. The recipe isn't too difficult, but it is a laminated yeast dough, and requires a lot of time waiting in between each step.

The recipe as given to us follows:


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
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves

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.

I pretty much followed this exactly, with a few exceptions. He wanted cheeeeeeeese danish, so I made a cheese filling by mixing 1 package of cream cheese with one egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and a bit of vanilla. For the milk in the dough I only had 2%, so that's what I used. For the egg wash I used a whole egg with a tablespoon or so of water rather than one egg plus one yolk because I didn't want to "waste" another egg. And lastly I used only 1/3 of the dough because there's just the two of us home today.

The results? Eh. It was good, we ate it. I'll try again with some fruit filling, I think the cheese filling was just a little too bland. Maybe a lemon/cheese filling would be nice, or some sour cherries.

There's a cool new way to check out all the Daring Baker posts. Shari of Whisk: A Food Blog put a very usefulreading list together at Bloglines. You can either read it there, or import it into your reader of choice. Check it out!


bethany June 29, 2008 at 9:19 PM  

looks great!!! Wasn't this a fun DB month!?!

Cynthia's Blog June 29, 2008 at 9:56 PM  

This was my first challenge. Everyone is so talented and creative. Kudos!+

Molly Loves Paris June 29, 2008 at 10:33 PM  

Nice looking Danish. And now you can try two more fillings. I used 1% (because that's what we have), and just one egg and a bit of water (because I didn't want to waste an egg), and no vanilla bean (because they cost SO much).

Aparna June 30, 2008 at 5:12 AM  

One nice looking braid. This was a great tasting challenge.:)

maybelles parents June 30, 2008 at 5:42 AM  

great looking braid. I do think lemon and cheese would be nice, or lemon cheese AND sour cherry.

maybelles parents June 30, 2008 at 5:42 AM  

great looking braid. I do think lemon and cheese would be nice, or lemon cheese AND sour cherry.

Milli June 30, 2008 at 11:51 PM  

good job on your braid!
All of ur Bento boxes r so so so cute!!

Aamena July 1, 2008 at 4:14 AM  

beautiful braid, specially the colour. Hey I think you should definitely give fruit filling a try, specially with cream :)

April July 1, 2008 at 5:34 AM  

Your braid looks great! I do agreee that there is alot of waiting time with this, but I loved it!

Angel July 1, 2008 at 6:34 AM  

Your braid looks tasty. I think sour cherries would definitely make a good filling. I want to try it with lots of different fillings!

Nic July 1, 2008 at 7:07 AM  

Looks great! Yeah, one of the best parts about the recipe is figuring out what to put in the middle!

Isabelle July 1, 2008 at 7:14 AM  

Your braid looks delicious!

breadchick July 1, 2008 at 6:59 PM  

well done on your danish!

Rebecca July 1, 2008 at 7:11 PM  

Nice job!

BC July 2, 2008 at 4:28 AM  

I think lemon cheese filling would be fantastic too. (I followed most of the directions too.)

Barbara Bakes July 2, 2008 at 5:41 AM  

Your braid looks delicious - sorry you didn't love it. Try the apple filing. I loved that.

Cakespy July 2, 2008 at 11:33 AM  

The cheese does sound good--maybe you're right, all it needed was something to set it off! Of course, I probably would still eat it. The lemon sounds like a great option. Really though I think yours was a great success--just look at that perfect golden tone it has!!

Holly July 2, 2008 at 1:02 PM  

Your braid looks lovely! Great color! I thought about doing cream cheese to as that is my favorite to buy from the bakery.

Thought about doing cream cheese and apple? That might be really yummy!

Liz July 2, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

Your braid looks terrific! And I am LOVING all of your bento boxes--so cute!

Simona July 2, 2008 at 3:24 PM  

Nice job! I am wondering about a savory filling, so thanks for your assessment.

MaryMary July 2, 2008 at 3:43 PM  

Just "eh"? :) Well it looks stunning!!!

Miss Ifi July 2, 2008 at 5:23 PM  

Even with all the time in between.. it is sooo worth it because you get such a yummy result!!! Your braid looks yummy.. congratulations!!

Jenny July 3, 2008 at 5:55 AM  

Nice braiding, your danish looks tasty.

Dolores July 3, 2008 at 8:52 AM  

Beautiful braid! I'm sorry that your cheese filling didn't work better for you, but it sounds and looks like an overall success.

Anonymous July 5, 2008 at 11:01 AM  

Yum, cheese danish! I wish I had a second one in the oven too. Well done.

Claire July 5, 2008 at 11:58 AM  

Great job! Your braid looks just fantastic.

Clumbsy Cookie July 5, 2008 at 2:20 PM  

You have such a cute fun blog! The braid came out great!

genkitummy July 5, 2008 at 9:51 PM  

good job on your braid! mmmm.....a cheese danish!
yeah, a lemon/cheese or cherry/cheese danish sounds delicious!

Selfhuggingjack July 6, 2008 at 12:19 AM  

I also did a cheese and ham filled one and had exactly the same opinion it seems, just came out too bland. I didnt enjoy it that much though my other half seemed to love it.

emacgrass July 6, 2008 at 9:11 AM  

oooh so pretty!!! while you're coveting my blue bowl, i'm drooling over your bentos!! please pack my lunch for monday morning :) xoxo

Dianne July 6, 2008 at 3:04 PM  

Your braid looks great! I like to take the cheese filling and add fruit too. I think the lemon or cherry filling along with it would be great!

Lisa July 6, 2008 at 3:22 PM  

LOL - I thought I was the only one who didn't want to "waste" an egg that way! I also did one with cream cheese only and I agree it was too bland - needs fruit!

Colette July 7, 2008 at 6:00 AM  

Looks amazing! The color you got on the top of your braid is beautiful.

Irina July 7, 2008 at 6:48 AM  

Thanks, yours looks yummy too. Very inspiring website you have here. I need to start taking my lunches to work!!!

Pam July 7, 2008 at 9:30 AM  

This recipe did take a long time but it was so worth it. Your braid looks really lovely.

Allergy Mom July 7, 2008 at 7:40 PM  

Thanks for the bloglines tip! (And great braid!) Libby

paulawy July 14, 2008 at 11:46 AM  

Your braid looked great! I was thinking of doing a cheese filling, but I didn't have any of the ingredients on hand. I like your idea of a lemon/cheese filling - yum!
I got tagged by Alexis of Baking to Destress for a meme, so I'm passing it on to you! See my blog for the details, or e-mail me with questions!


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