You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danish Braid - Daring Baker's June Challenge

This was probably my favorite challenge so far. It provided me the opportunity to again push my baking skills a little further while not turning me into a total stress monkey in the process (well, ok, I stressed just a little but it was late....I was tired) But seriously, it was a fun challenge and a recipe that I will definitely be making again but not all in one day like I did this time.
Many thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'? for providing the June challenge. They gave some great information about the history of the Danish braid as well as some nice variations on how to fill it. I chose to use the apple filling they included with the recipe which made Jim very happy as apple was his choice as well. Kelly and Ben also listed some links to videos and photos on how to make the dough and the braiding. These were most helpful. I have included them at the end of this post.

So, I mentioned that I wasn't as much of a stress monkey with this challenge. I decided to make the recipe last Sunday. Throughout the day, I was fine as I sailed through making the detrempe and beuragge (that's the dough and butter block). Then as the day wore on and I realized that I would be up until nearly midnight with this thing, the stress began to start. This was a school night after all....I needed my beauty sleep, especially since I had just worked a 6-day week. But I was committed to finishing the braid so as soon as we finished dinner, I began the final assembly of the braid.

Here's where I would make a change to the recipe. I would use more flour to dust the work surface (or make two smaller braids which would be easier to move). A light dusting wasn't enough as the braid wound up sticking to my counter top. My stress level ratcheted up a few notches when I tried to lift the braid and realized it was sticking! And I had a perfect braid dang it. My struggle to move this 18" long braid caused it to twist and start to break apart. Thankfully Jim came in and helped me with it. All that was left now was to let it proof for 2 hours. After an hour, I checked to see how it looked. It looked the same, no change. Hmm...the heck with it. I declared the proofing to be done and put that bad boy in the oven. And my stress melted away when I pulled this beautifully baked braid out of the oven. It looked a wonderful as the house smelled good.

Jim took some into work to share with a co-worker who said the dough was perfect and the filling not too sweet, it was just right. We enjoyed the rest of it for breakfast all week and as dessert one night.

Alterations I would make next time would be to make two smaller and easier to handle braids, use different fillings like almond, raspberry or cheese and not forget to put a little sugary glaze on top of the finished braid. And.....I would not try to make this in one day. I'd make the dough one day and assemble everything the next.
Here is the recipe if you want to try your hand at making one.
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
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


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.

4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap and 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.


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.


Makes enough for two braids

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.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)

2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see above)

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 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.

Helpful videos:
Danish Pastry technique on YouTube. Interesting general information on making a dough similar to this one. – Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs
Video cut for a Danish Pastry Braid by Beatrice Ojakangas who is the featured baker of the Danish Braid recipe in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Great information.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sophie update

For those of you interested in keeping up with Sophie, here is a quick update. The past few weeks have been hectic as we finished up with her daily visits to the vet for radiation treatments. But I'm happy to report that we are done with them and all went very well.

We are now letting her leg heal and hope for the tumor to continue to shrink. Except for the loss of the nail on her dew claw the after effects of the radiation have been minimal. Her leg was bandaged last week when the nail came off to help it heal. But aside from that she is still her happy, sweet self.

In about 1-2 months she should be ready to have what is left of the tumor surgically removed.

I, on the other hand, managed to have my own need to see a doctor. One week before the radiation treatments ended, I was at work and walked into a book truck full of books.....while wearing open toe shoes.....and the book truck didn't budge. Mt little toe, however, did. Yup, I broke that sucker.

Two of the staff were in the room when it happened but were unaware what had happened. Not wanting to scare the bee-snot out of them, I bit my tongue and sat down in the nearest chair then broke out in a sweat. Had I been by myself, I would have let fly with a string of curse words that would make a sailor blush. But I didn't want to horrify my staff with my language and quietly whimpered.

It was later that night when I got home that I noticed between my toes and the bottom of my foot were purple. Yesterday I was finally able to wear a real shoe on my foot as opposed to the post op bootie I'd been wearing.

Now I'm not saying the doctor's office I had to use (since it was a worker's comp injury) was sketchy but this is the advice the doctor gave me, "As long as you can keep from running your foot foot into things, you can avoid injuries like this."
Gee..... ya think?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Rambutan, a fruit found in many Asian countries. The word "rambut" is Malay for 'hairy' which refers to the spiky rind. It looks like a lychee with spiky hair.

When opened it reveals a while flesh that surrounds an almond-like pit.

We first tried this fruit several years ago but weren’t impressed by it. Perhaps that’s because it was not fresh rambutan but canned. We finally had fresh ones while in Malaysia back in March. We found them to be quite delicious. Lightly sweet and mild in flavor, they are very refreshing on a hot day.We found these in a local Asian market over the weekend. At $6/pound they are a bit pricey but we went ahead and got a few anyway. We were not disappointed. Jim expertly opened them up and within minutes they were devoured. If you see these hairy little beasts in the market, get a half dozen or so and enjoy.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New kitchen gadget

Here it new kitchen gadget. A KitchenAid Pro 600. This is a mixer with balls. And it's mine, all mine. (I actually wanted to put a picture of the mixer with two balls underneath but didn't get around to it.)
My mom recently got a great deal on the price and was contemplating one for herself and in a moment of weakness ordered one for me too! Is she cool or what! It comes with the usual attachements, albeit much larger than the ones for my other KitchenAid.
I think Cookie Jar Bear is impressed with the dough hook....
... as well as the beater and whisk attachments.

And what did I make to christen the mixer? Bagels. Yummy, yummy bagels. You can see the dough rising in the left side of some of the pictures. The motor on this bad boy is the most powerful of the KitchenAid stand mixers and it kneaded the dough nicely. No way my old mixer could have done that.

I expect many more tasty delights to be made in my kitchen with this mixer.