Jun 29, 2008

Danish Braid-Daring bakers

The hosts of this month's challenge are Kelly from Sass and Veracity and Ben from What's cooking. I just have to say thank you thank you thank you, Kelly and Ben for this wonderful challenge. I have always wanted to make some sort of laminated dough, but always too intimidated by it. A danish dough is great for a first timer, because it doesn't require nearly as many turns and folds as a puff pastry dough, but the result is still quite delicious.

I wanted to do a savory braid, but in keeping with the true spirit of daring bakers, I didn't want to change the dough recipe. So I decided to keep the orange zest, cardamom and orange juice in the dough, and made a sort of omelet as my filling. My filling included broccoli, onions, ham, and of course eggs.

The pastry was really delicious, I think it would have complemented a sweet filling much better, but was still very good with my omelet. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks to Kelly and Ben, I think I just might tackle puff pastry next. waaaah ha ha!! Here's the recipe, in half portions (as usual).

Danish Dough
from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup whole milk
1/6 cup sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
less than 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 large eggs, chilled
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/8 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 1 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
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.


Rebecca said...

The omelet filling sounds deeelish. What a great idea! And welcome to DB!

Miss Ifi said...

okie.. so that omelet filling sound like it was really good..
I am reeeally glad you enjoyed the recipe as much as I did!! we definitely owe Kelly and Ben big time for making us try this recipe!!
Congratulations on an amazing looking braid!!!

breadchick said...

That omelet filling is perfect for this braid! Well done.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

The filling does sound so good & different...looks great peeping out of your Danish. Was it hot there too? O goodie, next time I bake something runny, will just pretend I'm in exotic Hawaii & will feel better immediately!!I think we are some of the few that went savoury (I did 1 of each, sweet & savoury)...I agree the recipe ia a keeper; love your 'half as usual' bit!!! Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, creative fillings for your braid and looks good. I was definitely challenged by this one especially being my first challenge. I wouldn't have tried this if not for DB.

silverrock said...

Ooo... your braid looks delicious. I love the fact that you went with a savory filling, maybe I'll try it out sometime. Brocolli, ham and eggs, sounds like a great combination!

Claire said...

Mmmm...that filling sounds fantastic! I wanted to do something like this but it didn't happen.

Dolores said...

Ooooh... I like the omelet filling idea. Great job!

Debyi said...

Your braid looks great! Wonderful job. It's nice to see so many savory braids. I played it safe and stuck to a sweet filling.


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