Recipe: danish braid
The DBs (Daring Bakers) made DBs (Danish Braids) this month! You can find the whole gang of Daring Bakers at the blogroll. Our co-hosts for this challenge are Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? It was nice to get a break from uber-sweet bakes. This recipe allowed for some flexibility, which I loved.
we knead to bake!
The entire month of June was a bit of a clusterfuck for me, but I managed to get this done after several intended starts that were postponed for various scheduling conflicts. I had seen a lot of DBers post their results on the DB forum and I felt uninspired… why? Because 95% were sweet fillings and I was pretty burned out on all of the sweet challenges of late. I wanted something savory.
wet ingredients for the dough
What I ended up deciding on at the last minute was one sweet and one savory braid. A sweet bread compliments barbecue pork nicely. I figured if I could omit the cardamom from the recipe, the orange and sugar would not be too overt for the pork. The sweet filling I chose would be almond paste because almond goes with just about anything, but is especially lovely with an orange accent.
butter and flour in the beurrage
blended until smooth
Making the dough wasn’t so bad. I had timed everything just right until I read the part of the recipe that said to turn the dough a total of 4 times instead of what I had thought was just 2 times. I wish I could do all of my DB challenges with tons of leisurely spare time, but it is never that way and so my “challenge” usually ends up becoming a game of how many times I can dodge tanking the recipe because I didn’t read the instructions through thoroughly enough.
spreading the beurrage on the detrempe
Once the dough was done and sitting in the refrigerator, I figured I could make the braids the next day. But once I had gotten home from my radiation treatment, I rallied and decided to bake the braids. The house was hot, which I normally hate, but it was a good thing because it reduced my proofing time on the braids’ rises.
the dough is ready
barbecue pulled pork filling
The first braid to bake was the pulled pork. Unfortunately, when I turned the braid 180° in the oven, I forgot to reduce the temperature (hey, I was on the phone with my parents). So it cooked a little quickly and was browner than I would have liked.
folding over the almond paste filling
egg washing the braid
The second braid (almond filling) turned out just right because I actually followed the instructions to reduce the oven temperature. Both of the braids were delicious and I am quite fond of the bread. We had weekend guests who raved about the two braids. I think I might try more savory combinations with this dough in the future. This one is a keeper! A big thanks to Kelly and Ben for choosing and hosting a terrific challenge recipe.
a savory braid
a sweet braid
from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
1 oz. fresh yeast or 1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 tsp ground cardamom (I omitted)
1 1/2 tsps 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
butter block (beurrage)
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond paste
3/4 cup powdered sugar
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.]
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. 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. 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. 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.
In a small bowl, beat the egg white, add the almond paste and powdered sugar, and mix until smooth and blended.
to make the braid
1 recipe Danish Dough see (above)
2 cups filling
egg wash (whisk together 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk)
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. 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. 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. Lightly coat the braid with egg wash using a pastry brush.
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°F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400°F. Position a rack in the center of the oven. 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°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.