You Gonna Eat All That?

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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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you had fun with bthe challenge, your braid looks yummy :)

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm definitely going to have to try an apple braid in the future! That looks great!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your braid is just beautiful!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow in one day! it looks great :)

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very very nice, it appears to have raised just wonderfully and you get extra points for having the tenacity to do it all in a day!!!!! Congrats

2:44 PM  
Blogger giz said...

I really like your idea of making two smaller braids. It just seems like so much especially if you're a really small family. Your dough looks spectacular. I wish mine looked nearly as flaky. Lovely.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Danish looks great! Yum yum!

3:18 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Very nice braid, it looks great!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice looking braids! Well done indeed.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Half Baked said...

Nice looking braids! they look very tasty:)

8:37 AM  
Blogger Shelby said...

This was also my favorite challenge so far! Great job!

8:58 AM  
Blogger The Irreverent Cook said...

Hi Barbara, this is my favorite challenge so far too!! I'm so glad you enjoyed Singapore, if you ever come back here again, drop me a note and I'll show you all the best food in Singapore!

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, I agree with not trying to make this in one day. What a marathon! Lovely braid. ;)

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your braid looks fantastic! And you did it in one day? Wow!

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful braid. But we are five people, and I made the braid one afternoon and it was all gone by the next morning!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Amelia said...

Great Job with the Braids! No kidding about the planning. It certainly is a 2 day project :)

4:56 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Yep, yours looks fabulous. Congrats.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you - a day long marathon of Danish. Seems much more fun than other day long marathons but still an accomplishment!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Amanda Barkey said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog! Since it was my first month with DB I really didnt think that anyone would look at my blog let alone comment so it was very cool to wake up this morning to comments!! I cant believe we had the same problem!! I was sure sweating up a storm while anxiously trying to move that long braid onto the baking sheet... and then I did it again!!! bahhhhh! oh well, cant wait for next months challange... hope it doesnt involve moving things :)

10:20 PM  
Blogger Jen Yu said...

I really liked this challenge too. Your braid looks awesome! Nicely done :)

10:52 PM  
Blogger Milli said...

very good job Babara!!
I admire all of the DB bakers who managed to find time accomplish this task through out their bz schedule!

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely braids barbara! mine were reluctant to rise once rolled out but, like you, i had success regardless.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Wow! That looks delicious!

8:28 PM  
Blogger amandalouden said...

That looks crazy good!

12:12 AM  
Blogger Miss Ifi said...

awwwww so sorry to hear about your stress!!! but hey you finished it and it looks AMAZING!!!
Congratulations on another challenge very well done!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Andrea Meyers said...

Sounds like we had similar stress levels! I also completely prepared the braid on the counter, then realized I should have cut and assembled on the baking sheet! Oh, good times! Your braid turned out wonderful!

4:13 PM  
Blogger Cecilia said...

Great looking braid! I'm glad it was such a hit with his co-workers.

I was a little stressed by this recipe as well. I tried to make it all in one day, but I was really last-minute with things and didn't bake the braid until the morning of the posting day. Whoops! I allowed my braid to proof for more than two hours, and it didn't balloon that much.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Deeba PAB said...

That is one beautiful braid Barbara...& I agree about this months challenge. My most fun & best one to date too. I enjoyed this so much!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a surprise for you on my blog - check it out!

3:09 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

You did the same thing I did! I made one giant braid and then wished I had made 2! Looks great anyway! Great job.

7:01 PM  

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