Anyways, on with the challenge, I was excited that I would be able to put my newly aquired yeast-baking skills to good use (I use to be hopeless with yeast, but now yeast and I have become very good friends :P). I followed the recipe exactly as posted, but seeing as how the braid dough would make enough for 2 braids and the DB recipe only gave one filling option, I was free to play around a bit with the spare braid. So, one of the pastries was filled with the DB apple filling and my experimental pastry was filled with blueberry preserves and cream cheese. Both of them were equally delicious, and my sister who is in love with blueberries really enjoyed the blueberry cream cheese filling.
Danish Pastry technique on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg-zXn_YpLI&feature=related
DANISH DOUGH(Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough)
For the butter block (Beurrage)
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Ingredients Filling Directions:
- 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
2. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. (Fuji apples will be caramelized, but still retain their shape!)
3. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.
4. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.
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
Braid Directions: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.
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.
This challenge was really quite fun. It didn't take as long as I had thought it would, and the time spent waiting between turns of the butter-block passed by very quickly. The orange zest and the cardammom in the danish dough added a wonderful aroma to a very rich and flakey pastry. Even if there wasn't any filling, I would be content to eat the dough all by itself.
The additional resources really helped with the assembly of the braid. And after looking through the method, and reading about the steps it took no time at all to put the braid together. The puff pastry was nice and flakey and so very buttery. As for the filling, I think I could have chopped the apples into smaller pieces; it may make it easier to fold the braid without having apple chunks pop out. The blueberry-cream cheese filling was very smooth in texture and allowed for the braid to made quite tight, with no filling leakage.
Overall, this challenge was a success. I will definitely be making this recipe again, but will probably half it because two braids was way to much pastry for my family to consume. Hooray for DBers and congrats to all who completed this month's challenge!