Can I just say how excited I was when I first read about this month's challenge? Then after a few weeks all that excitement turned into fear and thoughts of excuses I could make to not have to do it, I just didn't think I'd have the time, or the will to bake with this recently stifling weather! However the directions say to rise the bread in 90° environment, so technically it would have been perfect.
Of course after a few days I got over it, especially after baking a few other things and remembering that it wasn't much different than my other everyday baking adventures. The only difference is this one had a deadline. That may be what it was. Somehow it took me back to school where an assignment may be a lot of fun, but only because it's "due" it becomes a stress. Anyway, I did it, and I was so happy I did, it was delicious and I've found a new confidence in my "laminated bread" techniques. Of course a lot of that confidence left when I saw the monster that came out of the oven. It was tasty but definitely scary looking!
Since the recipe makes enough dough for two braids I wanted to do two fillings. My first filling choice was sweetened red bean paste, homemade; it's the Asian in me. However when I tried boiling my lil' beans, they didn't soften! After over 6 hours of boiling the beans, and a temperature rise in my kitchen by about 5 degrees, I gave them up as a lost cause. So because my daylight dwindled, I decided to just bake one danish braid with the custard I made using the lilac cordial from last month. I've been waiting for a perfect time to use it, and here it was! It was yummy because of the orange in the dough, and citrus in the cordial. Definitely delightful.
Other than all the preparation, folding and proofing time, (it took me 3 days! - no thanks to those beans) this recipe was pretty simple. Making the beurrage was my favorite part, partially because I was watching Teen Witch while I was doing it. :) Top that!
** June Daring Bakers Challenge **
Hosts: Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?
Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough
Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
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 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
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.
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.
Lilac Cordial Custard
inspired from Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Cookbook
2 Tablespoons superfine sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 c. lilac cordial
Mix together the sugar, egg yolks, flour and cornstarch. Bring the cordial to a boil in a saucepan. Add a little to the sugar mixture, stirring tpo blend, then add the sugar mixture to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute. Cover and allow to cool.
Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
1 recipe Lilac Cordial Custard
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 custard to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the custard to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover the custard. 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.
Be daring, and try it! Oh, and I'll post my red bean version sometime next month! That is, when I find time to bake it, or when the temperature is lower than in the 90's everyday!
Soundtrack: Day 1 - Teen Witch; Day 2 - A Miyazaki film, Spirited Away I think, or was it Totoro?; Day 3 - the Silence of Sunday
Be sure to check out all the other amazing bakers out there and their delicious danish adventures!
May - L'Opéra Cakes
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