Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Daring Bakers - Danish Pastry


The Daring Bakers strike again! This time in the form of Danish Pastry. A lovely, layered "laminated" dough filled with our choice of preserves, cheese, fruit, pastry cream or curd.

By this time there are, oh I don't know, thousands of us all over the world baking up a storm. Pushing our own personal comfort and skill level to attempt the set recipe selected for the month. This recipe was selected by KellyPea of Sass and Veracity and Ben of Whats Cooking?, feel free to see how theirs turned out.

I made the Danish pastry at the last minute. I have never made pastry dough - beyond pie and tart dough - and was just a little frightened. While putting it off this last week I did manage to clean out and rearrange the entire basement so at least my procrastination was constructive.
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The first day, Friday, I made the dough. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I had no trouble with it at all. I had read someone's tip to grate the butter before adding it to the flour and this helped tremendously. I was worried how I was supposed to blend cold butter in with flour, lump free, in 1 minute. I did the folds, turns & chills straight from the recipe. The next day I did the filling. Preserves dotted with cream cheese. I did find it hard to move the pastry after filling and braiding the top. By this time it was quite soft. Next time I might do the final rolling, filling and braiding on top of parchment so that I can easily transport it to my silpat lined baking sheet. I topped the braids with poppy seeds on one side and sliced almonds on the other side. Then I sprinkled raw sugar on them. I love raw sugar, it's the best part of pastry.
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How did it turn out? Pretty good. The first one I did to the recipe times and it was a bit too dark on the bottom. The second one I did for 10 minutes at 400 and 10 minutes at 350 and it turned out better. It was denser than I expected but tasty. The next day - today - we ate it cold out of the fridge and it was much tastier this way. I think that I would like to experiment with this type of dough further.
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Check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll to see how the others fared.
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RECIPE AND TECHNIQUES FOR DANISH BRAID

Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough

Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
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• Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered doughs with puff pastry being the ultimate. Danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, however, where as 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.

Some History:

• According to many sources, “Danish” was born when Danish bakers went on strike, and Viennese bakers were brought in to replace them, creating what is referred to as Vienna Bread.

• Conversely, it is also said that Danish bakers went to Vienna to learn the techniques Viennese bakers employed, and Danish dough was created there.

• In the early 1800’s, C.L. Olsen spent time in Germany, believing in the idea of gaining inspiration from bakers of other countries. He brought knowledge back to Denmark to introduce “foreign” breads to his country, also hiring people of other nationalities to bake in his family bakery.

Guidelines:

• The method or style of your braid is your choice. You may vary the width of the dough strips, type of edging, or angle of cuts.

• Often, a glaze, nuts, or sugar are used as toppings. You may choose to use any or all of these, or others you may find interesting.

• Use one or more fillings such as fresh berries, pastry cream, preserves or jams, curds – there are lots of possibilities.

• Once you’ve made a Danish Braid, experiment with Danish pastries with the extra dough.

• If there’s a way to try something savory with the extra dough, then why not?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.For Your Consideration:

• This recipe calls for a standing mixer with fitted attachments, but it can easily be made without one. Ben says, “Do not fear if you don’t own a standing mixer. I have been making puff pastry by hand for many years and the technique for Danish pastry is very similar and not too difficult.” Look for the alternate directions in the recipe as appropriate.Yard recommends the following:

• Use well-chilled ingredients. This includes flour if your kitchen temperature is above 70 degrees F (~ 21 degrees C).

• It is recommended that long, continuous strokes be used to roll the dough rather than short, jerky strokes to make sure the butter block is evenly distributed.

• The 30-minute rest/cooling period for the dough between turns is crucial to re-chill the butter and allow the gluten in the dough to relax.

• Excess flour accumulated on the surface of the dough after turns should be brushed off as pockets of flour can interfere with the rise.

• When making cuts in the dough for the braid, make sure they are not too long and provide a solid base for the filling.

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

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

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.


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. 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.




DANISH BRAID

Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients

1 recipe Danish Dough

2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves


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 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.

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.