6/29/08

Apple Danish Braid

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Proud member of Daring Bakers

Another Daring Bakers challenge in the books! This month's challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cooking? The challenge was to make a homemade “Danish Braid” and the recipe was taken from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking.

This recipe was an opportunity to learn the technique of making and working with yeasted laminated dough. Laminated dough is dough with layers upon layers of butter going through it. This creates the flaky end result you see in various pastries, including croissants. I would like to try making homemade croissants one day... but let's lose some weight first, yes? haha...

Anyway, back to the braid. As you can see by the deliciously lovely picture above, this challenge was a success for me. The pastry had a wonderfully buttery flavor with a hint of orange and cardamom. If you don't happen to have cardamom to use in this recipe, I urge you to consider getting it. You may not need it for another recipe for a while into the future, but I tell you it's worth it in this recipe. As this dough was being made, the aromas it gave off were incredible. Orange, vanilla bean, cardamom, sugar, butter, mmmmmmm...

The recipe made two braids, each about two feet long. We brought one of the braids to my dad's house for the dessert portion of his Father's Day dinner. We made him the Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches seen here on FOODIE a few weeks ago and he loved them. The dessert went over well, too, as it was served with a nice scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.

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I froze the other braid and plan to thaw it out this weekend to take to a 4th of July picnic. This time I think I'll throw together a quick glaze and drizzle it over the top, then sprinkle on some toasted almonds. Yum!

Would you like to see how this was made? It was time consuming, but it was also fun. If you have a free day and feel like baking all day, give it a try! It makes your house smell fabulous and you get a great dessert out of it, too!


To make the Danish dough, start by combining yeast and milk in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed.
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Next, zest an orange. Oh the smell... Also, cut open half of a vanilla bean and scrape out the gooey seeds.
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In the same mixer bowl, add the sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.
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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.
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Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.
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Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
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While the dough is chilling, make your butter block. To do this, just 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 dough, or detrempe, has chilled for 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.
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Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. P6140163

Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
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While the dough is chilling, go ahead and make your apple filling. I had to core, peel, and slice 5 Fuji apples, so it was Mark and his power tools to the rescue.
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This was by far the fastest way to core those suckers! Hi Mark!
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After slicing up the apples, I tossed them with the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon juice.
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Next, I melted the butter in a sauce pan.
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I added the apple mixture and sautéed them for about 10 minutes. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely for later use in the braid.
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After the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, it's time for the second turn. 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.
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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. As you can see, I've marked the dough with two finger holes to remind myself that this is the second turn of the dough. Two down, two more to go!
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Here's the dough after the last turn was complete.
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After all the turns are complete, line a baking sheet with 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 (or at least on the parchment paper like I did - I moved the finished braid by carrying it on the parchment paper and over to 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.
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Spoon the filling 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.
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Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. P6140175

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.
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Whisk together a whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 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 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.
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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.




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

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
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.

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.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
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

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. 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. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. 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 will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. 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

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.

Egg Wash
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.

14 comments:

  1. That braid looks really good! Serving it with ice cream is a great idea.

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  2. Your braid looks really nice, and I agree the ice cream is great idea.

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  3. I loved the power tool useage. :)

    Beautiful braids and photos...Did Blogger upload them at that size or did you write it in HTML? I've never seen them that size on a Blogger page. Looks great.

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  4. kevin and lorrie - thanks! i'm on my way now to go check yours out!

    marymary - yeah, it's nice having a man around. :-) And yes, I tweaked my html code so the right column of my page is wider so I can fit bigger pictures onto it. if you want me to go into depth on how I did it, email me at tarathefoodie@yahoo.com and i'll put a cheat sheet together for you. :-)

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  5. I love the way you cored your apples. Hardcore!! Your photos are fab!

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  6. Absolutely gorgeous braid!

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  7. Ooh. I love the looks of this with ice cream! I wish I had thought of that.

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  8. Gorgeous braid photo. Ice cream ... why didn't I think of that? ;)

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  9. Wow! Beautiful braid, and I LOVE the multi-tasking with the drill! ;)

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  10. looks great! I bet the fresh apples tasted good...I wish I would have done that.

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  11. Mmmm...looks great! And just like an apple cobbler with the ice cream

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  12. Beautiful! I just baked up the second braid today :)

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  13. Beautiful braid... great job! And what a great secondary use for the power tools.

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  14. Absolutely beautiful! I enjoyed this challenge also and have made it one other time since!

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