Sunday, 29 June 2008

Danish Braid

This is my second Daring Bakers' challenge. Thanks to Kelly and Ben for hosting this month's challenge which is Danish Braid or to be more generic - laminated dough. Indeed it was quite a challenge for me as you will see later.

Like my previous DB project, I wouldn't say that this is a resounding success. let me start with the dough which I found extremely sticky when it came to kneading it. Only the constant sprinkling of flour just about allowed me to finish it. One thing to bear in mind is to keep everything cold or chilled or you will have problems in stickiness and handling.


It was a very warm day when I decided to do this which made it very tricky. By the time I did the second rolling and folding I thought I was getting the hang of it and felt mighty pleased with myself when I finally parked the four-times folded dough in the fridge for the final chilling. This is when I think it all went wrong. It was supposed to be chilled for the last time for up to 24 hours. Of course the next day I forgot to take it out and bake it instead it took me another day so that was 48 hours not 24. So I rolled, filled, and braided it then proofed it in a slightly warm oven. Two hours later it still looked the same. I thought to myself maybe at baking time it will finally puff up to all its glory. It didn't! *waaah* My yeast phobia is all coming back to me.


Well actually the top puffed up a little but nothing more. The apple filling was problematic as well. I substituted Golden Delicious for the Fuji and it was sooo runny despite simmering it for more than 10 minutes. I have made the necessary adjustment in the recipe below so I won't make the same mistake next time I decide to make it. All is not lost though, the aroma was wonderful and when me and my son tasted it was actually delicious despite having a bottom crust that was on the hard side.

Danish Dough
(makes enough for 2 Danish Braid)

*For the dough:
30 g  [1 oz] fresh yeast or 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk - chilled
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange - finely grated
3/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean - split and scraped
2 large eggs - chilled and slightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp fine salt

*For the butter block:
250 g  [1 cup] cold unsalted butter - cut into cubes
1/4 cup plain flour
  1. Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a whisk.
  2. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs and orange juice. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture. Stir initially with a wooden spoon then as it gets sticky use your hand to combine.
  4. Once they come together, transfer to a well floured surface and knead until smooth and easy to work with (about 5-7 minutes).
  5. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Beat the cubed butter and 1/4 cup flour with an electric mixer on the slowest speed until smooth and lump free. Set aside.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out on a lightly floured surface.
  8. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18x13 inches and 1/4 inch thick. The dough may be sticky so keep lightly dusting it with flour.
  9. Spread the butter evenly over the right two-thirds of the dough.
  10. Now fold the left third of the dough over the right, covering half of the butter.
  11. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the centre third; pinch the edges a little. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track or use a stick tape and keep a tally.
  12. Place on a baking sheet and cover with a plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  13. Put the dough lengthwise on a floured surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough again into approximately 18x13 inches, 1/4 inch rectangle.
  14. Again fold the left third of the rectangle over the centre third and the right third over the centre third. No additional butter will be added. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  15. Roll out, turn and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.
  16. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for 5 hours or overnight.
  17. 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 out the dough to about 1 inch thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Apple Filling

4 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch thickness
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean - split and scraped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp flour
  1. Toss all ingredients except butter in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan until slightly nutty in colour (about 6 minutes).
  3. Add the apple mixture and saute until the apples are softened and caramelised (10-15 minutes).
  4. Transfer to another container. Cool and set aside.

Danish Braid

1/2 recipe of 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 parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish dough into approximately 15x10-inch, 1/4 inch thick rectangle. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.
  3. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 3-inch long cuts with a knife or a rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side making sure to line up the cuts with those you have already made.
  5. Spoon the filling you have chosen to fill your braid down the centre of the rectangle.
  6. 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.
  7. Begin folding the cut side strips of the dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in ends.
  8. Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
  9. Lightly oil one side of a piece of plastic wrap and place over the braid.
  10. Proof at room temperature or if possible in a controlled 90F degree environment for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
  11. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F. Bake for 10 minutes then rotate pan to bake evenly.
  12. Lower oven temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Cool and serve the braid warm or at room temperature.