This month is being hosted by kelly at "Sass & Veracity" (USA) and Ben at "What’s Cookin’?" (USA) who had the "viscious" idea to make us work with 100% homemade, yeasted laminated dough. In that way, they could put our skills, nerves as well as our courage to the test...
There is no need for me to tell you that, as usual, I panicked and stressed at the very sight of the recipe and at the idea of the task that awaited me. I broke out in a cold sweat, my knees started to shake and feel weak ! Oh my God, was I really going to overcome my terror? My enemy number one is butter-laminated dough/pastriy (layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough) to which I'm totally phobic. Although, I am quite an adventurous and experienced baker, that is one of the only things which I am totally afraid of. Thinking about that makes my heart skip a beat!
As it was the case with all challenges until now, I was able to keep cool, not listen to my inner demons and to detach my mind from what I was making. Thankfully, my zen attitude made me get a hold of the delicate situation, helped me overcome all of my ungrounded fears and realise that, in fact, "Danish Pastries" are much easier to make than I had anticipated/thought...
I must say that, although making laminated dough is quite finicky and extremely time-consuming, especially if the weather is hyper hot (30° C/86° F) and the kitchen has limited space, everything went very smoothly and I encountered no major problem. Strangely, I stayed cool during the whole process and was highly organized as well as motivated, even if I was petrified with fear. Generally, I tend to run in all directions, I am very messy, I get angry and I swear a lot! Maybe "The Daring Bakers" have made me become a better person and helped me to deal with things in a more relaxed way? Who knows...
As recommended by Kelly and Ben, I made one "Danish Braid" and experimented with "Danish Pastries" with the extra dough (leftover dough). For the filling, I though that apricot puree (half way between apricot jam and compote/the apricots were cooked with very little sugar and cornstarch was added as a thickener, then I pureed the mixture in a mixer and added some cinnamon) and pastry cream (made with milk, egg yolks and flavored with Australian vanilla paste) would be ideal and would go perfectly well together. For the decoration, I decided upon sprinkling sliced almonds on the top of my braid and then drizzling some almond essence icing (1 cup confectioner's sugar with 2 tbs hot water and a few drop almond essence) over my "Danish Braid" and "Danish Pastries", just after having removed them from the oven.
Although I really enjoyed all previous challenges, I must say that, so far, this one is one of my favorite ones as it combines the delightfulness of yeast dough with the exhalirating sweetness of the fillings. And, as I am a big lover of bread and viennoiseries, it was impossible for this luscious recipe to not make me shiver with pleasure while eating that gorgeous "Danish Braid" and those heavenly little "Danish Pastries"!
Guess what. I LOVED those specialities as they are so refined, addictive, versatile, fragrant and terribly delicious! Both the "Danish Braid" and the "Danish Pastries" t asted and looked better than the highly disappointing, dry, tasteless, bland, grainy-textured and ungratifying bakery-bought ones which I have come across until now. I know that it sounds extremely pretentious, but I'm speaking the truth... Most of the time, I've discovered that homemade bakery items are much more soul-uplifting than what you can find in a ny or at least in mostr "boulangeries/pâtisseries"...
Both the "Danish Braid and the "Danish Pastries" were smooth and at the same time. crispy, flaky and puffy. The dough was perfectly laminated. Taste-wise, those delicacies had a complex savor thanks to the dazzling flavors of butter, vanilla, bitter almond, cardamom, orange, apricot and of cinnamon which intermingled exquisitely together. To die for!!!
Thanks to Kelly and Ben for having chosen that marvelous recipe and for having cured my phobia, made me aware of my potential and made me realize that there's no need to be fearful of laminated doughs/pastries!!!
From Sherry Yard’s "The Secrets of Baking".DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
Ingredients for the "Dough/Détrempe":
1 Ounce (30g) 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 Tsp Ground cardamom
1-1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 Vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 Large eggs (~ 57-60g), chilled
1/4 Cup Fresh orange juice
3-1/4 Cups All-purpose flour
1 Tsp Salt
Ingredients for the "Butter Block/Beurrage":
1/2 Pound (2 sticks/240g) Cold unsalted butter
1/4 Cup All-purpose flour
Method for the "Dough/Détrempe":
1. (Without a standing mixer) Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.
2. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.
3. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain (Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even).
4. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.
5. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.
6. 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).
7. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
10. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
11. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.
12. Set aside at room temperature.
13. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
14. 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).
15. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.
16. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.17. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third (The first turn has now been completed).
18. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.
19. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
20. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface (The open ends should be to your right and left).
21. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.
22. 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).
23. (The second turn has now been completed) Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
24. 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).
25. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight (The Danish dough is now ready to be used).Remarks:
If you are making the "Dough/Détrempe" with a standing mixer, here's the method: 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.
How to freeze the "Danish Dough": If you will not be using the finished (after step 24) 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 Tbs Unsalted butter
Method for the "Apple Filling":
1. Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes.
3. 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).
4. 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.
Ingredients for the "Danish Braid":
1 Recipe "Danish Dough" (see below)
2 Cups Apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)
Ingredients for the egg wash:
1 Large egg
1 Large egg yolk
Method for the "Danish Braid":
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).
2. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
3. 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.
4. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
5. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.
6. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. 7. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling (This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling).
8. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished.
9. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.
Method for the "Egg Wash":
10. Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Method for the "Proofing and Baking":
11. 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.
12. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200° C (400° F). Position a rack in the center of the oven.
13. 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 180°C (350° F), and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.
14. 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 frozen for up to a month.
Serve with a dollop whipped cream, some custard and/or a ball of homemade vanilla ice cream.
Chez Marion de "Il En Faut Peu Pour..." (France)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)
Chez Anne de "A Foody Froggy In Paris" (France)
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