Friday, July 4, 2008

Danish Braid Recipe

This is the recipe I used for the Daring Baker's June 2008 Challenge -- Danish Braid.
Source: Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

Note: I only made half of the recipe. The recipe that follows is full, not halved. There are 3 components to this recipe; the dough, the butter block and the filling. I suggest that you divide the work in 2 or 3 days because the work on the dough alone, will take you at least 2.5 hours. It's a lot of work, I know, but really worth it. I also know that reading the directions alone is like reading a novel, it's long. I noticed. But don't be intimidated. It's really, and I'm not kidding you, easier than it looks.

There's nothing like a warm, flaky and hard earned Danish Bread.

Component 1: DANISH DOUGH
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

1. Combine the yeast and milk (Cold. Yes, cold.) in a bowl. Mix together then slowly add the sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs and orange juice. Mix well.
2. In a large bowl sift together the salt and flour. Make a hole in the middle and then pour in the wet ingredients. Slowly mix with your fingers using a circular motion, starting from the middle to the outside.
3. After all the flour has ben incorported, dump it on a lightly floured working area and knead for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before

Component 2: Butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Combine butter and flour in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until smooth, no lumps of flour visible. Don't foret to scrape the sides! Set aside. I refrigerated mine because it is hot in my kitchen.
2. After the dough has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle (if you can, but don't worry about it too much) approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. If the dough is sticking to the table or to your hands, dust it lightly with flour. Using a spatula, beat the butter mixture a little until smooth then spread it evenly on 2/3 of the dough (Center and right side. Look at the pictures I posted on my previous entry.)
3. Now, fold the dough into thirds like a letter; left edge (the side that doesn't have butter) over middle part only. Then right edge (the one that has butter) over the middle. That's the first turn. Three more to go. Remember to poke the dough with your finger so that you can keep count of the turns you make. After each turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do not skip this part. The butter needs to firm up before you roll it out and fold it again.
4. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface with the open ends to your right and left. Repeat step 3. Roll, turn and refrigerate. This is the second turn. Do 2 more turns.
5. After the fourth (final) turn, refrigerate the dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Component 3: APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.
2. In a pan, melt the butter until gently over low-medium fire (you wouldn't want to burn it, remember it has sugar). Then add the apple mixture and cook until the apples are tender and browned.
3. When done cooking, spread the apples on a bking sheet to cool.

To Assemble the DANISH BRAID (finally!)
Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves

1. Prepare you baking sheet. You can line it with parchment paper.
2. On a lightly floured table, roll out the dough to about 15x20 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough on the baking sheet. (Note: you can divide the dough into to to make 2 braids.)
3. Make 5 inch cuts on the dough. This will be your braid. (See pictures on my previous entry.)
4. Dump the filling in the middle part. Then start braiding; left flap over right flap, left flap over right flap until you reach the end. Tuck the ends inside however you want. just make it neat.
5. Brush the dough lightly with milk to help it brown nicely.

Proofing and Baking
1. Put an oiled piece of plastic wrap over the braid. According to Sherry Yard, at this point you should "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." I just left mine on the kitchen table for 2 hours.
2. About 15 minutes before your proofing is finished, preheat your 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 (Don't over look this part!), and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.
4. Let cool for 5 minutes then serve and enjoy!

Just a comment: Yesterday I bought a Danish pastry from one of the most popular bakeries here. When I first touched the pastry, I knew immediately something was wrong with it. Bought it anyway. After I got home, I took my first bite into it and it was........crunchy?! It was crucnhy! Aaaaagggghhhhhhh!!!!


Jj said...

It does look long but you're right, not really all that difficult and these certainly sound well worth the work! Thanks!

Debyi said...

Your braid looks really yummy! I hope you enjoyed making it as much as I did. It does take some time, but how rewarding to have something that tastes so good after all that work.