It’s once again the time of the month to announce June’s DB challenge – DANISH BRAID!! How cool!
I was ecstatic when June’s challenge was announced. I’ve been wanting to make bread for months but once again with procrastination as my middle name, I never got around to doing it. This month’s challenge was once again a first time for me hence the excitement and anticipation. Sadly for me, the wedding took a toll on me and I fell sick. After I recovered, I was busy and then guess what?! I fell sick AGAIN!! As I’m typing this, I’m currently voiceless as I’ve lost the ability to use my voice box temporarily! With everything that’s happened, I was tempted to write in and tell Lis and Yvonne (the co-founders of DB) that I’ll miss out on June’s challenge. Call it a fighting spirit or even pride, I decided I’ll still make it even though dateline’s today! With my fingers crossed, I’ve made it – just in the nick of time!
This month’s challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?. A very interesting choice and definitely a challenge for me. Thankfully, they provided us with some videos to watch so we could pick up some tips. Seeing I don’t have a big oven (mine’s a turbo oven so it’s really small), I had to work a way around making those braids. After watching the videos, I couldn’t help but was excited with the prospect of using some of my dough to make other Danish pastries. I remembered Ryan had bought a bread book for me so off I went in search of it for inspiration.
I kept thinking of what sorta filling was I gonna use. We are currently in winter so fresh berries cost too much and is out of the question. I wasn’t too keen on apple (which was what they had recommended in the recipe) as I wanted something I’ve never tried before. Hhmm…I’ve got some leftover red bean paste in the fridge…that would do…what else? Pears…I’ve always wanted to do something with pears. Ooohhh…and mascarpone..I’ve got some of those in the fridge too! And raspberries in the freezer…how could I forget? In the end, this was what I did: some red bean pastries, some raspberry and mascarpone ones and mascarpone with pear slices.
Given the size of my oven, I divided my dough into 3 portions. With one of them, I split it into 2 and filled them up individually with raspberry mascarpone and raspberry puree, and mascarpone with pear slices. Voila! 2 braids!
With another portion, I filled it up with red bean paste and made funky red bean slit roll! It looked really cool in the book so I decided I shall attempt it. And here goes…
With the last portion, I made some cute looking Danish pastries I’ve been wanting to make for so long! Café Toulouse in Hobart has these really nice pear Danish pastries which I used to buy frequently when I was working in the city. I’ve always wanted to make my own so that’s what I did! I made 2 stars and 2 diamond ones and some cute little croissants! Once again they were filled respectively with the raspberry and pear filling.
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
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 lemon, finely grated
- 3 cardamom pods, split and scrape the insides and pound till fine (I didn’t have 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
- 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.
- Red bean
- Dried orange peel
- Mix together all the ingredients in a large pot and allow it to simmer over medium-low heat for a few hours. Stirring occasionally.
- When it has reduced to nearly one third, remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- With a food processor or blender, blend the red bean till fine. Sieve it to drain off excess fluid.
- Heat a pan with little bit of oil. Over medium heat, “fry” the red bean pulp to allow it to dry off.
- When it’s slightly moist and not too dry, remove from heat and allow it to cool. Put into containers and refrigerate till you are ready to use.
- Icing sugar
- Tinned pears in syrup
- Frozen raspberries, pureed
- Sliced pears into thin slices. Reserve syrup for later use.
- Puree the raspberries then run it through a sieve. Put pulp into a bowl, add a little bit of sugar and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and give it a good stir. Set aside to cool.
- Beat mascarpone and icing sugar to taste for 1 minute.
- Divide into 2 portions: with one add in a little bit if the fruit syrup from the pears and stir it well; with the other, add in a little bit of the raspberry juice retrieved when sifting raspberry puree earlier and stir it well.
Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large 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.
- Divide dough into 3 portions. With one, fill it with red bean paste and roll it up.
- With the other, make little Danish pastries filled with raspberry and pear filling respectively.
- With the third portion, divide it into half.
- Along one long side of one 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 the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Proofing and Baking
- Spray cooking oil 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.
- Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 175 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. Bake 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.