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Sunday
Jun292008

DB'ers June Challenge--Danish Braids





I so wish that I could bottle scents and sell them. If I could do that with this month's challenge, I'd sell a ton. We made Danish Braids this month, and the dough--not only was it a dream to work with, but it's scented with orange zest, vanilla bean, and cardamom. It just doesn't get any better than that, folks. The aroma while the braids were baking was heavenly! But that doesn't even compare to the taste. It was out of this world delicious! So good, in fact, that I had to send most of these to work with my husband. They were dangerous! Dangerously delicious, hehe! Fillings were up to us entirely, so I decided to go with half the apple filling recipe for one, and cooked down blueberries with a bit of sugar, layered over almond paste for the second braid. Both were fabulous, but the blueberry almond was my favorite, and I was sad to see it walk out the door to go to the office with my husband. But I seriously could have eaten all of these. OINK! They had to go.

 

This month's challenge was chosen and hosted by Kelly at Sass & Veracity, and Ben at What's Cooking.

A few facts:

• 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.

There are a lot of steps involved, and it seems overwhelming, but it really isn't. The most important thing to remember, I think, is to let the dough rest for the 30 minute intervals. It needs three 30 minutes rests, and then the final rest of 5 (yes, 5!) hours. So plan to either start early in the day, or give the dough, and yourself, a rest overnight, and start again the next day. This recipe makes two braids. The time to divide the dough has varied in the posts I've read, but I split mine after its overnight rest in the fridge. Divide it, then roll each portion into a 10x15" rectangle. You'll cut parallel strips on each side, remove the extra dough in the corners (you'll see what I mean in the photos), add your filling down the center, fold in the 2 end flaps, then braid the strips. Make sure when you cut the strips that you leave a large enough base to hold the fillings--make sure your rectangles are 10x15 to start, and you should be all set.

Braiding was a bit stressful at the beginning, hoping I'd do it right, and have beautiful baked braids that held their shape--but it was a cinch to do! Make sure to cut your strips long enough so that they reach all the way over the dough on the other side, and give them a pinch to stay in place. Tuck your last braid under the previous one and give that a little pinch, too.

I've got lots of step by step photos, so here we go!

Some extra, but helpful info:
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.
• Yard calls for a “controlled 90 degree F environment” for proofing the constructed braid. Please refer to this chart to assist you in this stage of the challenge:

Proofing Temperature For Fresh Dough
(room temp) For Refrigerated Dough
Degrees F Degrees C
70 ~ 21 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. 2-1/2 to 3 hrs.
75 ~ 24 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hrs. 2 to 2-1/2 hrs.
80 ~ 27 1 to 1-1/4 hrs. 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.
85 ~ 29 45 min. to 1 hr. 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
90 ~ 32 45 min. 1 hr.

• When making cuts in the dough for the braid, make sure they are not too long and provide a solid base for the filling.
• Ben on Cardamom: It can be very expensive as some stores, but if you have an Indian store nearby, it can be considerably less expensive than at your local grocery store. If you can’t find it or it is still cost prohibitive, then you can use a substitute. Many people would say that there is no substitute for the unique flavor of cardamom and it is better to leave it out. But I’ve found out that combining cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in equal portions words pretty well. Of course, it doesn’t come close to the cardamom taste, but it worked just fine for one of my test batches.
• Kelly’s Two Cents: I had some green cardamom pods on hand and used 16, cracking and emptying the contents into a grinder to get the quantity called for in the recipe for the dough. The quantity barely put a dent in my 1 oz. bottle. If you don’t have an Indian store near by, you may consider on-line spice retailers like http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/car … -and-black or http://spicebarn.com/cardamom_seed.
Yes, there’s postage involved, but you’ll have cardamom for many other
recipes for a fraction of the cost, even with postage.

 

Danish Braid

Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking

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 (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

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.

Proofing and 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.

Photos!

 

Butter Block

 

 

First roll out of the dough, and butter block spread over 2/3 of it.

 

 

Fold end with no butter halfway over buttered dough. You're folding in three, like a business letter.

 

 

Here is your folded business letter, and your first completed turn of the dough!

 

 

****This is where you let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Take it out of the fridge, roll to a 13x18" rectangle, fold the open ends in, like a business letter, and let it rest for 30 minutes again, in the fridge. This is your second turn. Two more to go, and after the last turn, give it a rest for 5 hours or overnight.

 

After the 5 hour rest period, divide the dough in two. Refrigerate one while you start on the other. Roll to a 10x15" rectangle, and continue on.

 

Apple filling cooking down. Blueberry filling was done the same way. Three cups blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cook down until syrupy and thickened. Add about 1/2 cups blueberries at the end for a few whole berries in the filling.

 

 

Almond paste waiting for blueberries.

 

 

Blueberry filling over almond paste.

 

 

Apple filling.

 

 


Finished braid.

 

 

Finished braids, proofing. I preheated my oven to 175 F, then shut it off and put the braids in to proof. After about one hour, they were ready to go.

 

 

Finished braids.

 

 

Glazed with a mixture of powdered sugar, water, and vanilla bean seeds.

 

 



 

I encourage everyone to try this recipe! You'll be thrilled to complete something like this, and so happy when you take that first (second, third, fourth, fifth, etc....)bite! It's not as difficult as it may seem. Just follow the steps, and you'll be fine.


Thank you to Kelly and Ben for choosing this recipe! I never in a million years would have thought I could do this, but I did! Another huge accomplishment and another DB Challenge chalked up. Whew! hehehe!

A few helpful links:

http://www.montag.it/comida/archives/003949.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg-zXn_YpLI&feature=related
http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/meet/ojakangas.html#

 

Wednesday
May282008

Opera Cake, and my Debut as a Daring Baker


I'm thrilled to make my debut this month as a Daring Baker! I'll admit, I was nervous and a little scared to see what the first challenge would be. But all of my worry was for nothing. The challenge was an Opera Cake, which is complicated and seems overwhelming, but as long as you go step by step, it's a piece of cake. hehe.



This month's challenge is hosted by Ivonne, Lis, Fran and Shae. And it truly was a challenge! It really tested me, but I feel like I completed a huge accomplishment.

The Opera Cake Challenge is dedicated to Barbara. She's the woman behind the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow, that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. Since LiveStrong Day is in May, it's totally fitting that this challenge be for Barbara.

So now let's get right to the cake, since there's a lot to cover. An Opera Cake consists of five elements: the Joconde, or cake, the syrup, that you brush the cake layers with, the (tricky, for me) buttercream, the ganache/mousse layer, and the glaze. Traditionally, Opera Cakes are flavored with coffee and chocolate, and are dark in color. But since it's Spring and our thoughts are turning to lighter flavors and colors, one of the rules we had to adhere to was that our cakes be light in color. Flavors were up to us (yay!) so I immediately knew I'd do my current favorites, raspberry and lime.

The joconde was flavored simply with vanilla, the buttercream was flavored with raspberry, the mousse was white chocolate and lime, and the glaze--lightly flavored with almond. Here's the recipe, with my changes in blue. Oh, I took as many photos as I could, but I made this almost all in one day, and was most often caught up in what I was doing. Sorry!

 

Opera Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

For the joconde
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)
What you’ll need:
•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.) (I used 2 11x17 jelly roll pans.)
•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
•parchment paper
•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)
Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven. (Next time, I'd do one layer at a time, since they only have to cook for 9 minutes--the cake on the bottom rack got very dark on the bottom, and I had to carefully cut the dark parts off.)
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

 

For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
Ingredients:
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime
1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

 

For the buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a candy or instant-read thermometer
•a stand mixer or handheld mixer
•a bowl and a whisk attachment
•rubber spatula
Ingredients:
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp raspberry extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raspberries (I used frozen) cooked down for a few minutes and strained through a sieve to remove seeds
1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring (extracts and raspberry juice) and beat for an additional minute or so.
9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

 

For the white chocolate ganache/mousse
(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a mixer or handheld mixer
Ingredients:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp lime juice
zest of 2 limes
1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan or double boiler
Ingredients:
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
1/2 tsp almond extract


1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

4. After the glaze it set, carefully trim the edges with a serrated knife to get clean edges. Since you're the chef, eat the trimmings while no one is looking.

 

Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

I cut my layers wrong and ended up with four layers in a rectangle instead of 3 layers in a square. I always sucked at geometry, hehe.
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Photos of the finished cake:


My thoughts: Even though this seems like it would be a very sweet cake, it wasn't. Not the case with some of the other DB'ers, but everyone's tastes are different. Even my husband, who doesn't like things too sweet, said this was delicious and light, and reminded him of the Italian cream cakes he used to have as a kid. Maybe it's all the lime zest that cut the sweetness, I'm not sure. I'll definitely make this again! My kids have requested it for Christmas, in it's original chocolate form, which will be really fun to try.

 

 

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