I decided not to use an apple filling as suggested in Kelly and Ben's email as I had just made an apple tart-tatin recently for a friend's dinner party. Instead I opted for a raspberry and vanilla pastry cream filling and the remaining dough to be made into smaller sized pastries filled with egg mayonnaise & crispy diced bacon and a spicy potato & peas samosa-like filling.
I made the pastry dough first but had a bit of a problem combining it with the butter block. It's probably because the weather that day was hot and humid and I had to put the dough into the fridge a couple of times to let it rest. I finally managed whew ... and after the final turn rested the dough in the fridge - I was planning on doing the braid and filing the next day, which was Sunday.
When I woke up on Sunday morning I realized it had rain in the wee hours of the morning and the skies looked gloomy and dull. Maybe luck was on my side as the weather was much cooler as compared with yesterday. I thus went to work on making the raspberry filing, the pastry cream and the two filings for the savoury pastry. Once all the filings were done, I set it aside to cool and then started on the braid. Braiding the dough was quite easy as Kelly and Ben had included references to Julia Child's of Julia Child - Lessons with Master Chefs
Thereafter it was just popping everything into the oven. The smell of the braids and pastries baking in the oven was heavenly ... my husband commented on it too. I only wish I could include a link in this post for "smell" so that you can get a whiff of it - unfortunately not, so you'll have to content with the pictures only.
I'm glad I did this challenge and I'm already planning on doing some danish braids in the next week or two. Thank you Kelly and Ben for this challenge.
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(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 tsp cardoman (I couldn't find cardoman so I substituted it with nutmeg)
1-1/2 tsp 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 tsp salt
Method for the Dough:
If using a standing mixer:
1) Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
2) 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.
3) Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.
4) Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Without a standing mixer:
1) Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.
2) Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.
3) 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.
Ingredients for the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Method for the 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.
1 10 oz (280 gm) package frozen raspberries
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
2 tsp cornstarch
1) Combine all ingredients and cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Cool. (Can be made a day or two ahead - keep in refrigerator until use)
VANILLA PASTRY CREAM
(makes 1 cup pastry cream)
2/3 cup milk
2 inch piece vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1) In a small, heavy saucepan over high heat, combine the milk and vanilla bean and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until well blended.
2) When the milk reaches a simmer, remove it from the heat and gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place it over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream thickens and boils, about 1 minute. Discard the vanilla bean and transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl.
SPICY POTATO FILLING
3 tbsp oil
5 potatoes peeled
1 cup green peas
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 green chilli finely chopped
3 tbsp green coriander, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1) Boil, cool and peel the potators. Dice into 1/4" size.
2) Heat oil over medium flame. Lower the heat and add in onion. Stir fry until golden brown. Add in peas, giner green chilli and fresh coriander. Add diced potatoes, salt and all spices.
3) Mix and cook on low heat for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring whilst cooking. Dish out and set aside to cool.
(Makes enough for 2 large braids)
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups raspberry filling
1 cup almond flakes (for sprinkling on top of raspberry braid before baking)
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 pastry cream down the center of the rectangle. Then add the raspberry puree on top of the pastry cream. 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.
Proofing and Baking the Danish Braid:
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.