Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danish Braid: Chocolate & Raspberries

Daring Bakers Challenge June 2008
 
Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid (01) by MeetaK

 

It's challenges like this I truly love. Flaky pastry filled with a sensual filling of chocolate pastry cream and tart raspberries. This month the adorable Kelly of Sass & Veracity and brilliant Ben of What's Cooking? got us turning and flipping over a buttery layer of Danish pastry.

I have to say this - I am glad that I have been in the Daring Baker group for over a year now, because if I was not I would have been doing one of my Voodoo dances I normally save for these kinds of challenges!

I remember my second challenge had me completely stressed. Who remembers the Gateau Saint Honoré? This challenge had me biting my finger nails and hitting my head against my trusted rolling pin for deciding to join a baking group. My second challenge, and I had to conquer 3 (out of 4) tough components that makes up the great Gateau! All 3 of which I had never made prior to that challenge!

Yes - puff pastry was one of those components. Looking back I kind of giggle now - because anyone who has made their own puff pastry will nod their heads in agreement when I say - one never goes back to the store-bought stuff. Homemade puff pastry is a lot of work - but it is so rewarding that even the best store-bought pastry cannot compete.

Since that challenge, I do often make my own puff pastry. I make huge batches and freeze them and am always surprised how fast it goes. Knowing that there is lovely homemade puff pastry in the freezer only makes me want to make more delicious pastries with it. It's great to have around - defrost overnight, smother with Nutella or jam in the morning and bake for a few minutes and we have a lovely crispy breakfast or snack for Soeren's lunchbox.

When this month's challenge was announced, surprisingly I was not phased out! Kelly and Ben chose the Danish Braid from from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking.

Danish dough belongs to the family of butter-laminated or layered dough, with puff pastry being the ultimate.  While the Danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, puff pastry is not. The process of making Danish dough is less complex than that of puff pastry, but equally as important to achieve best results, and a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated doughs in general. Danish dough is extremely versatile, and once made can be used for a variety of baked goods. The possibilities are endless.

The guidelines for the challenge were quite easy:

  • Use the recipe as written to make Danish dough and create at least one Danish Braid.  The recipe will make two full braids unless we chose to make only half the dough.
  • We were to fill the Danish Braid with the apple filling provided by Kelly and Ben and/or any other filling as long as it was something we made ourselves from scratch. 
Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid (04) by MeetaK

We had a few choices to modify the recipe:

  • The dough ingredients include ground cardamom and orange zest.  Cardamom is traditional in Scandinavian breads, but if it was cost prohibitive, or if there were dietary restrictions, we could leave it out or replace it with something else.  We could omit the orange zest or choose another type of citrus to flavor the dough.
  • The method or style of our braid was our choice.  We could vary the width of the dough strips, type of edging, or angle of cuts.
  • Often, a glaze, nuts, or sugar are used as toppings.  We could choose to use any or all of these, or others we found interesting.
  • We could use one or more fillings such as fresh berries, pastry cream, preserves or jams, curds.
  • If there’s a way to try something savory with the extra dough, then why not?

For my braids I chose to make a rich chocolate pastry cream using the recipe from my sugar daddy ;-) and paired it with the fruity freshness of raspberries. The pastry cream is something I make very often. It's simply exquisite and a breeze to whip up. Often I will make the pastry cream as a dessert and serve it as the world's best chocolate pudding! And when I do - I am the World's best mummy!

I left out the orange zest in the dough but kept the cardamom, as I find chocolate and raspberries pair well with cardamom. You will find the recipe here for the chocolate pastry cream as I made it to fill my braid, however, I have also included the recipe for the original filling - Apple filling. This way if you do decide to make the full amount of the dough you can give both fillings try.

You will be seeing plenty of Danish braids with several unique and excellent filling ideas today. So I hope you enjoy the Daring Bakers June challenge across the blogesphere.


Danish Braid
from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking

Printable version of recipe here.

Terminology:

  • Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough
  • Detrempe – ball of dough
  • Beurrage – butter block
  • Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns.  Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.
Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid (03) by MeetaK 

DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients

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

Dough
Using a standing mixer:
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.

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.

Butter Block
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. 

Storing: 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.

FILLING

Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid Diptych (01) by MeetaK

Chocolate Pastry Cream & Raspberries
Chocolate pastry cream adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé's written by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 900 g of pastry cream

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
200 g bittersweet chocolate, melted
40 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g fresh raspberries

Preparation

Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Set aside a smaller bowl that will fit inside the ice bath and hold the pastry cream. Also set aside a fine meshed strainer.

In a small saucepan bring the milk to the boil. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in another medium sized saucepan.

Once the milk is hot you will need to temper the egg mixture by adding tablespoonfuls of the milk to the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Still whisking, once the egg mixture starts to warm up, slowly pour in the rest of the milk.

Strain the mixture into the saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Whisking vigorously, without stopping, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep the mixture at a boil - whisking with all your might - for 1 to 2 minutes.

Still over the heat, whisk in the melted chocolate. Remove from heat and scrape the pastry cream into the small bowl.

The pastry cream should be thick, smooth and without any lumps.

Set the bowl holding the pastry cream in the ice bath, stirring frequently to keep the mixture smooth. Cool the pastry cream to 60 degrees C, then remove from the once bath and stir in the butter in three or four additions. Return the cream to the ice bath and leave it there until it has completely cooled.

Storing: Covered tightly with plastic wrap and pressing the plastic against the cream's surface to create and airtight seal, the pastry cream will remain fresh in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Leftovers: Use the rest as a dessert on it's own scattered with fresh raspberries and pistachios. Or use it to make other chocolate pastries.

Apple Filling
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
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. 

Storing: After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Leftovers: The filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Assembling the Danish Braid
Makes enough for 2 large braids

 Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid (02) by MeetaK


Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups filling, chocolate pastry cream or apple filling (see above)
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.

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.

Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  If using the chocolate pastry cream scatter the raspberries over the pastry cream.

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. I scattered my braids with hazelnut brittle and coarse sugar.

Proofing and Baking
Spray or brush cooking oil  onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 35 degree C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200 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. Lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees C, 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.

Storing: The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.


Verdict

Chocolate Raspberry Danish Braid (05) by MeetaK

Like I said at the very beginning of this post - I love these kind of challenges. The dough was quite easy to make, even though it looks tedious it's not. If you've made puff pastry before you should have no trouble with this. For those who have never made puffy pastry, this dough is a great and simple way to acquaint yourself with the layered type of doughs. We loved the chocolate raspberry filling in this and I was quite surprised how fast both the braids disappeared.

Would I make this again?

Yes, I am actually thinking this might replace the puff pastry in some of the recipes in my kitchen. As I found it a breeze to whip up and always need dough on hand for Soeren's lunch boxes or when he has friends over, this dough will certainly be made in larger batches. As the dough is sweetened and contains flavoring it is not versatile for savory fillings.

What did I learn from this challenge?

I've never made Danish pastry before and was surprised at how easy it was. I liked the fact that it makes a nice easy and quick alternative the puff pastry.

A huge thanks to both Kelly and Ben for the great challenge this month!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

64 comments :

  1. laughing at your comment about beating your head with the rolling pin. I turned to a bottle of wine. sigh, it looks beautiful and worth all of the effort :)

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  2. Oh yes Meeta, "it looks tedious, it's not." It is always a joy to find these challenges that the anticipation is daunting and the execution is wonderful fun and great results! Beautiful braid. Gorgeous filling!!

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  3. Definitely the nicest braid I've seen today, nothing beats chocolate and raspberries!!!!

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  4. What a beautiful braid! The filling is so scrumptious looking :) You always make your challenges look like art, Meeta!

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  5. Meeta, yes I too was surprised how quickly this laminated dough went together considering how long the puff pastry we made for the St. Honore cake took. I'm thinking that with a few modifications this dough will also replace one of my puff pastry recipes.

    As usual, your photos are stunning and the raspberry and chocolate filling look luscious.

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  6. Look at that rich chocolate cream. Sorens friends are in for nice treats.

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  7. It is nice to have another type of dough that you can make ahead and freeze and know that it will be great, isn't i? Your braid is gorgeous! Love the chocolate and raspberry combo for the filling. Good thing being a DB pushes us to try new things :)

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  8. Nutella and fresh raspberries...yum!
    Beautiful as always.

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  9. That's quite the challenge. You did a beautiful job! I'm more of a savory person, but how could I resist.

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  10. Lovely, I bet chocolate and raspberries were great with this :)

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  11. Well Meeta, I always do that hitting with something I can grab and especially when I start to bake something.... love the filling part of the danish bread. looks heavenly

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  12. Your danish braid looks amazing! I really like the sound of the chocolate pastry cream and raspberry filling!!

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  13. Yes, this dough was a joy to work with...your filling sounds heavenly :-)

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  14. True it did look like it would be more tedious than it actually was. Your braids look great! Chocolate and raspberry what could be better!

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  15. Gorgeous braid, Meeta! Now I'm kicking myself for not putting chocolate in mine. What was I thinking?

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  16. I think I am honored that my choice of the Saint Honore gave you the wings to make puff pastry on a regular basis :) Your braid turned out perfect!

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  17. Meeta, it is always a pleasure to come to your blog, read your posts and drool over your delicious looking pictures. I agree with you, homemade puff pastry doesn't compare to store bought puff pastry and I am also thinking about replacing with this dough some of my puff pastry recipes. Danish empanadas? that actually sounds great :-p

    Thank you for baking with us :)

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  18. that's such a pretty braid! don't know how much practice i will need before i can come up with something that looks like that :D

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  19. Beautiful, Meeta! Even for those of us who are not Daring Bakers, it's fun to see what everyone is baking.

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  20. Hrrmm...I just can't reach that fork.

    Looks v. tasty.

    j

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  21. Meeta- your braid is gorgeous and I am sorry I wasn't able to participate this month. Chocolate and raspberries, this I will try when I find the time. Lovely site, I have enjoyed my visit.

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  22. beautiful braids, Meeta!! I ended up squeezing by and making it this month : )

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  23. I love the thought of chocolate cream and raspberries. I might have to give PH chocolate cream a try soon after this.

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  24. Oo-er what a good combination! I would love a piece. Well done, it looks great.

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  25. Thanks everyone! Yes being a Daring Baker is always an emotional roller coaster - fear, cold sweats, panic attacks, melodrama, excitement, joy, exhaustion. But in the end it was ll worth it.
    This was a great challenge and I am enjoying seeing all the DBs enjoyed it too.

    Thank you for your lovely feedback and comments!

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  26. A wonderful braid! I love your scrumptious choice of filling! Delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  27. Absolutely beautiful! Love your filling choice, too!

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  28. I knew before I got here that your braid would be good and I'm not disappointed.:)
    I really like your combination of chocolate and fruit.

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  29. Your Danish Braid is gorgeous Meeta! I'm so sorry I missed this challenge...laminated dough is something I'd love to tackle, but at the same time am deathly afraid of because of the heat where I live!

    The thought of batches of homemade puff pastry in the freezer is like a beautiful dream...

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  30. Meeta, your choice of filling is BEYOND decadent and divine - love it!! Nice work on this month's DBC!!

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  31. You ARE the best Mommy on the world! I'm not quite where you are, only 4 months being a DB, but I hope to have homemade puff pastry in my freeze too one day. Great job on you Banish Braid. It really looks quite exquisite. I bet your family loved it!

    xoxox Amy

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  32. that, my dear, is a beautiful thing.

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  33. Meeta-
    I have to try a chocolate version of this..It sounds great. And raspberries? YUM.

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  34. Chocolate and raspberry - how decadent and wonderful! And your braids are so lovely. Fantastic!!

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  35. what beautiful looking braids! i love the classic combo of chocolate and raspberries.

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  36. Drool worthy pictures as usual. And such a good result for a first attempt - great!

    Alxandra

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  37. What can I say Meeta? Perfect. I love your choice of filling and the final product is gorgeous! Way to go! I am surprised to hear myself say this, but like you, I think I will certainly be making this again!

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  38. Oh, Meeta... I had a stupid sandwich for lunch and no dessert - this is killing me!

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  39. Oh my! Your braid is picture perfect!

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  40. aah! that looks lovely, and I'm hooked to your choc-raspberry filling:) I'm not a fan of danish pastries, but I'll surely try your filing:)

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  41. That's a sinfully delicious filling Meeta, and a perfect braid! :)

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  42. Wow, your pictures always inspire me and make me want to visit your for lessons. And your braid looks delicious, such a great combination.

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  43. What gorgeous, gorgeous photos, Meeta. I love your DOF!

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  44. Forget about trying....I first come here to just look at ur gorgeous pics meeta....lucky people at home who get to eat ur wonderful looking n tasting food..I really wonder if ur son n hubby wait for u to take the pics......this one must b heavenly!!!!Bravo!

    Veda

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  45. Chocolate and Raspberries hmm?? I used Choc and Dark Cherries - I think we have some sort of a connection going on here Meeta!! Great braids and even greater choice of filling! Yum!

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  46. thank you thank you! Glad you all like the choc/raspberry combo and the pics.

    I made this when noone was around so I had plenty of time to click the photos LOL!

    Dharm the connection is strong!

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  47. Chocolate and raspberry sound like a perfect filling! And how beautiful your braid is! I got into the Daring Bakers after the St. Honore, thank goodness, because I think that would have intimidated me too much back then! I feel like I could tackle it now, but only after having done 12 other challenges!

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  48. You've inspired me to try the chocolate cream recipe! That sounds divine. Your braid looks beautiful!

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  49. Absolutely gorgeous braid, and what a lovely filling too :)

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  50. Simply beautiful Meeta, as always. Chocolate and raspberries sound divine.

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  51. This is just gorgeous! Not only i love the combination of chocolate/berries, but I love your pictures. So elegant!

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  52. Lovely job Meeta! Gorgeous as always :)

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  53. It'll be some time before I can do this challenge myself but looking at your braid makes me want to start right away! Your custard filling is sooo tempting!

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  54. chocolate and raspberries... one of my favorite combinations Meeta!!! Beautiful braid!!

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  55. Just beautiful!! My DD requested a chocolate filling for the other half of dough that's sitting in the freezer.

    I found too found it to be an easy challenge even though I had never made it before either ;-)

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  56. oh my, chocolate and raspberry! I'm swooning already :) beautiful photos!

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  57. what a glorious braid! it's stunning. and how impressive that you stock your freezer with homemade puff...wow!

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  58. Stunning Danish...picture perfect & fun!! This was my most fun & enjoyable challenge to date!

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  59. I love the chocolate rasberry filling. Love your picture Meeta, I am here deciding what I should make this month for T&T, I want to make everything...:) Thank you

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  60. Your braids look amazing! I made my dough tonight and intend to bake the braid in the morning. I am confused though. At what point do you divide the dough into 2 for 2 braids? When I take the dough out of the refrigerator to assemble my braids to I divide it then? Was I supposed to separate it into 2 batches already? Thanks for any help you can offer!

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  61. hi arika,

    thanks for your comments. you separate the dough when you are ready to braid it. hope it works. let me know!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta