Saturday, July 5, 2008

Daring Bakers - Danish Braid (chocolate croissants, etc.)

Finally. I'm sorry I'm so so late for June's challenge. I've been busy getting settled with my internship, continuing with Taekwondo and starting Judo. I've also ran out of eggs and sugar (how is that possible in my kitchen?!) I finally finished the laminated dough yesterday and assembled and baked the pastries today.

I was really excited for this challenge. I love croissants and danishes and I looked forward to playing around with different flavor combinations. I've been leery of making laminated dough before because of the sheer amount of butter involved. But after making buttercream that calls for 3 sticks of butter, 2 doesn't seem so bad ^.*

I made enough dough for 2 whole danish braids, but I'm taking my time baking them off. I know if I bake it all, I'll also eat it all. I used a third of the dough today for 2 small braids, 2 mini plain croissants, a chocolate croissant, and a pinwheel danish. I filled some of them with the caramel apple filling and the rest with bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate filling was just a small block of Belgian bittersweet chocolate. Once the chocolate croissant and braid had cooled a bit, I drizzled them with melted bittersweet chocolate. OMG, so good. I have to give the rest away before I eat it all.

For the dough (detrempe):
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For detrempe:

1 tbsp active yeast
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange, finely grated (omitted)
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated (omitted)
3/4 tsp ground cardamom (omitted)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (omitted)
2 large eggs, chilled, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

For beurrage (butter block):

2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

To make dough:

Detrempe (direction for manual method):
  • Combine yeast and milk in a bowl. Add in beaten egg, orange juice, sugar, vanilla, cardamom, vanilla bean, and zest. Mix until well blended.
  • In another bowl sift together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet ingredients.
  • Bring the flour into the wet mixture. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Add more flour if it is sticky (the feel of the dough depends on the humidity). Transfer the dough ball into a floured board and pat into a rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Cut butter into small cubes or grate using a box grater
  • Combine butter and flour in a bowl with high sides and beat until smooth and lump-free
  • I cubed my butter and tried to use a hand-held electric mixer on it. I got flying pieces of butter everywhere. So instead I mashed the butter into the flour with the back of a spoon, then used the mixer to smooth it out at the end. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To make laminated dough:
  • After the detrempe has chilled for 30 minutes, turn it out onto a slightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 18x13 inch rectangle (approximately 1/4 inch thick).
  • Spread the butter on the right 2/3 of the dough. Fold the left 1/3 (the portion without butter) to the right, covering half the butter. Fold the right 1/3 of the rectangle over the center third. You should never fold butter onto itself. This is the first turn. Wrap the rectangle and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Place the dough lengthwise on a floured surface (the short ends should be to your left and right). Roll the dough into another 18x13 inch rectangle (approximately 1/4 inch thick) Again, fold the left 1/3 over the center third and the right 1/3 over the center third. This is the second turn. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the process two more times for a total of 4 turns. After the final turn, refrigerate the dough for 5 hours or overnight. If not using the dough within 24 hours, wrap tightly in plastic and freeze. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator for easy handling.
Caramel Apple Filling
Makes enough for 2 braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (omitted)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used orange)
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat until slightly brown and nutty. Add the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Saute for 10-15 minutes until apples are softened and the butter sugar mixture has reduced to coat the apple slices in luscious strands. Let the apples cool completely before using as a filling (and try to avoid eating all of them). Leftover apples can be used as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake, oatmeal, or just eaten straight out of the bowl.

Danish Braid

1/2 recipe of the above danish dough
1 cup apple filling, jam, preserves, etc.
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk (for egg wash)

To assemble:
  • Roll danish dough into a 15x20 rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Place on a parchment-papered baking sheet to assemble.
  • Along the long side of the pasty, make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts, each about 1-inch apart, making sure to line up the cuts with the other side.
  • Spoon the filling of your choice down the center of the rectangle.
  • Starting with the top and bottom "flaps", fold the top flat down and the bottom flat up to cover the filling. Next fold the side strips over the filling, alternating left and right, until finished.
  • Beat together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
  • I was out of eggs by this point, so I just brushed the pastries with milk.
To Proof and Bake:
  • Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch. My braid didn't rise too much during this process.
  • Near the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 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 350 degrees and bake about 15- 20 minutes more, or until golden brown. The baking time will be shortened if you are making smaller braids or danishes.
  • Since my braids and danishes were smaller, I only baked them for 8-10 minutes after reducing the temperature.
  • Cool and serve the braid either warm from the oven or at room temperature.
fold left 1/3 over middle 1/3

fold right 1/3 over middle 1/3


Jacque said...

Congrats to you for seeing it through. It was well worth it, I can tell by your photos.

Nice job, your braid and pastries look fantastic!

clim618 said...

wow ... those look so good!! haha, the caramel apple part reminds me of those apple fritters we got from king pin!!

creampuff said...

Nicely done, Irene!

Claire said...

This looks fantastic! Mmmm!

Steph said...

Yum! I love caramel and apples together. I also have to give away most of my baked goods or else they all end up being eaten by me.

Anonymous said...

THAT LOOKS FREAKING AMAZING!!!! You never cease to astound me.

Ramya Kiran said...

Loved your step by step demonstration.. Croissants look yummy and delicious.