This months Daring Bakers recipe was certainly a challenge for me! I’ve never made a layered pastry before, and trying to prove the dough when the oven was already occupied by a roast (I usually put yeast doughs on the open door of the oven to prove) and a member of the household had a fever (so I couldn’t put the central heating up too high), well that was a challenge in itself. But I got there in the end and the result was fabulous. The pastry did what it was meant to do (which cannot be said for my last attempt with yeast in the September Daring Bakers Challenge!) and we had delicious desserts over two nights. The only thing I disliked was that I found the orange & cardamom flavourings in the pastry a little too strong, so next time I make this I will just use vanilla and let the filling flavours come through a little more.
Apologies for it being a couple of days late, I’ve been having trouble with my wireless internet connection for the last week or so, but it is all fixed now!
Apple & Walnut Filling Fills 1 Danish Braid
Look at those layers! WOW!!
Cut 2 Fuji apples into small pieces and toss in a bowl with 1/4C sugar, 1/2tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 vanilla bean split & scraped, 1/8C fresh lemon juice & 100g chopped walnuts. Melt 2Tbsp unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat until slightly nutty in colour, about 6 minutes. Add the apple mixture and saute until softened and caramelised, 10-15 minutes. Pour onto a baking sheet to cool completely before using to fill braid, generously sprinkle the top of the braid with a mixture of castor sugar & ground cinnamon after you have brushed it with the egg wash. This filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Berry & White Chocolate Filling Fills 1 Danish Braid
This filling was inspired by some Berry & White Chocolate scones that we are making at work at the moment, which I am totally and utterly addicted to… OMG they are delicious! Anyway, to make it for a danish braid filling mix together 100g roughly chopped white chocolate, 200g frozen mixed berries & 1/4C sugar. Sprinkle the danish braid with 1/4C almond meal, top with the berry mixture and sprinkle with another 1/4C almond meal. After applying the egg wash, arrange some flaked almonds on top of the pastry.
Danish Pastry Makes enough for 2 Braids
Combine 1Tbsp active dry yeast & 1/2C whole milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add 1/3C sugar, finely grated zest of 1 orange, 3/4tsp ground cardamom, 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 vanilla bean split and scraped, 2 large eggs & 1/4C fresh orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add 1tsp salt with 3 1/4C plain 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.
Combine 230g cold, unsalted butter and 1/4C plain 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 dough 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 mixture evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe (dough) 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. Make sure you keep track of how many turns you have completed by recording them somewhere. 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.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough (half of the above recipe) 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.
Whisk together 1 whole egg & 1 egg yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid. If using Apple & Walnut filling, sprinkle the braid with sugar & cinnamon mixture, If using Berry & White Chocolate filling, decorate with flaked almonds.
Spray olive oil spray onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 32 degree C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. 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 180 degrees C, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Serve with cream &/or ice cream. If you don’t want to eat it straight away, the cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.