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Danish Braid

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June 29th, 2008 · Print Print

Most of us have a “to cook” list.  Mine is probably a hundred recipes I’ve pulled from magazines and websites, and honestly, I have no hope of ever finishing it (particularly as it grows about ten times faster than I complete any of the recipes).  However, in addition to the recipe list, I have a to-learn technique list, which includes homemade puff pastry.

It started a few months ago, when I saw Jacques Pepin smoothly roll out a homemade sheet of puff pastry using nothing but a tapered wooden rolling pin, flour, water, and butter.  Unbelievable!  No refrigeration, no resting time, just rolling, folding and baking.  Needless to say, when I looked at this recipe, I thought I’d do it the Jacques way.

But I am not Jacques Pepin, and when I attempted to roll, fold, and roll again, something went horribly wrong.  I ended up with a table and rolling pin covered in butter, and definitely nothing resembling puff pastry.  So I stepped back, called upon my inner reserves of patience, and attempted to follow the recipe as written.  Go figure.  Not surprisingly, my dough soon went from picture (a) to picture (b), below:

Much improved.  In fact, eventually, throw in a little rhubarb jam, and I could get it to picture (c), which is this tasty little thing:

I brought this to work because there was no chance I would eat the whole thing, being 1) not particularly prone to eating breakfast, 2) not a huge fan of danish, and 3) not particularly inclined to gain 5 pounds in a week.  

But everyone loved it — I will definitely be making this again.  In fact, it’s Saturday, and I have nothing to do…

Danish Dough
Daring Bakers June 2008
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
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

DOUGH
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.

BUTTER BLOCK
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.

FILLING
I used Rhubarb Jam as my filling.
For the recipe, click here!

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
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.



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Tags: breads · Breakfast and Brunch · food



42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Candace // Jun 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I don’t believe Jacques!!!  You just can’t rush a laminated dough… very nice looking braid!

  • 2 Erin // Jun 29, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Making that would have given me an aneurysm.  Congrats on surviving it!

  • 3 Ann // Jun 29, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Your braid is just lovely!

  • 4 Mary // Jun 29, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Yum! Rhubarb filling! Your braid looks so pretty.

  • 5 Jen (Modern Beet) // Jun 29, 2008 at 10:44 am

    yum!  I actually joined the DB this month (inspired by your Opera Cake last month), and tried my hand at the Danish Braid — I’m so glad I did too — I envision croissants and puff pastry in my future…

  • 6 VeggieGirl // Jun 29, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Despite the difficulties in the beginning (Oh Jacques, he always rushes, haha), I’d say that you can definitely mark “making puff pastry” off of your “to-learn technique” list – it looks stunning!!

  • 7 Sarah // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Great job…sounds tasty!

  • 8 fanny // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:31 am

    your braid looks pretty*pretty! I definitely think I’ll be making this again too.

    xx fanny

  • 9 clumbsycookie // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Great job surviving that butter problem! I’m sure it tasted wonderful with the rhubarb jam!

  • 10 Rachel@fairycakeheaven // Jun 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    ooo rhubarb lovely, all tangy and sweet and soft!!!

  • 11 Lorrie // Jun 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Your braid is so pretty, I totally agree about patience. I grew a lot of it with this recipe!

  • 12 MyKitchenInHalfCups // Jun 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Incredible isn’t it Katy!  Follow the recipe and have patience.
    Your braid is loverly and the rhubarb is now at the top of my list for the next filling to use in this.

  • 13 NuJoi // Jun 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Well aren’t you the baker?!  This looks wonderful!  Puff pastry is on my list too.

  • 14 Amber // Jun 29, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Your danish is beautiful.  Great job.

  • 15 Kevin // Jun 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    That braid looks good!

  • 16 Marc @ No Recipes // Jun 29, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Nicely done! I went with a strawberry filling bet they would have tasted good together;-)

  • 17 Claire // Jun 29, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Great job…despite the initial oops!  Wonderful to be able to share.

  • 18 katy // Jun 29, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Thank you so much everyone!!!

  • 19 Paula // Jun 29, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Beautiful braid! rhubarb filling yummm. Nice job:)

  • 20 rachel // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    YUmmy filling and a gorgeous braid

  • 21 Rosa // Jun 30, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Great braid, nice filling! Wonderful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • 22 Donald // Jun 30, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Well done Katy!

    I am still going to buy my pastry dough; it is so much easier to deal with…oh, am I ending a sentence in a preposition? Dang-it! I hate that!!

    This looks like you are auditioning for Entenmanns. Well done!

  • 23 Susan/Wild Yeast // Jun 30, 2008 at 10:51 am

    A few people have mentioned that Jacques Pepin puff pastry and, although I haven’t seen it, to be honest I can’t imagine how dough can be laminated without chilling. Glad you found the patience to do this properly — your braid looks fantastic!

  • 24 mimi // Jun 30, 2008 at 11:04 am

    your braid looks perfect! i love the golden brown crust.

  • 25 Elizabeth // Jun 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Rhurbarb-Delish!  And nice photo op with the WS placemat! I have the orange and pink version-they are quite nice!

  • 26 Katie B. // Jun 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    What lucky co-workers you have!! Looks yummy!

  • 27 Kristen // Jun 30, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Simply lovely, Katy!

  • 28 Joanna // Jun 30, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Oh, wow.  That looks amazing!  Your co-workers must love you, I wish I knew where you worked and could sneak in to take a piece!!

    (Ok, just pretend that didn’t come across as stalker-esque….)

  • 29 Erin // Jun 30, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Your braid looks beautiful!  The strawberry filling sounds delicious.

  • 30 Seamaiden // Jul 1, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Another daring vegetarian baker! Your braid looks great. Love the fillings. :) I made apple and then my second one had a plum, rosemary sugar filling. I know what you mean about the 5 lb. gain in a week, sigh… It was up to me, DH and a friend to polish off the whole thing. Tough job, but what can you do.

    -Sea

  • 31 Elle // Jul 1, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Katy, it looks gorgeous!

  • 32 Lulu Barbarian // Jul 1, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    One of the things I like about food blogging is that I make a lot more stuff from my to-cook list just so that I have new recipes to blog.  Not that this stops my list from growing!

  • 33 Rebecca // Jul 1, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Beautiful!

  • 34 Garrett // Jul 2, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Maybe Jacques was working in a refrigerated room?  Either way, your braid ended up looking great.  Love the thought of using some of your rhubarb jam in the braid.

  • 35 VeggieGirl // Jul 2, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Hi Katy, I just saw your comment on my blog – what’s Twitter??  I feel so stupid for not knowing, haha :0)

  • 36 giz // Jul 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Perfect slats and the rhubarb filling is a total winner.  I think I’m the only one left who can’t find decent rhubarb except in frozen food…booo

  • 37 belle // Jul 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    fabulous! It looks perfect and I love rhubarb.  I had to share mine too for the same reasons except for one, I love breakfast. :)

  • 38 breadchick // Jul 8, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Lovely job on the braid!

  • 39 Dolores // Jul 10, 2008 at 1:18 am

    What? Who doesn’t want to gain 5 pounds in a week? :)

    Great job this month… beautiful braid. Jacques would be proud.

  • 40 Jaime // Jul 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    beautiful braid! i think i have been gaining 5 lbs per week since i started food blogging :P

  • 41 maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) // Jul 13, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I used homemade jam too (Cherry) and it made for a very satisfying product.

  • 42 YomyB // Aug 7, 2008 at 7:22 am

    I love your comments about the “to make” and “to learn” lists…worst part is that mastering the recipes and/or making them your own may mean many practice rounds..so you have to multiply those lists…. are there enough days left in my lifetime? I sure hope so! Your braid is gorgeous ;)

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