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June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers June 2008...Danish Braids!

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish: Up Close

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a danish braid from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking and it was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? and let me just tell you this one is a winner, even if my braiding skills leave a lot to be desired, but we'll talk about that in a bit. For now let's talk some Danish!

We had a little leeway with this one to fill it as we saw fit and I chose to use blueberries and cream cheese for the filling. I made a simple blueberry sauce and mixed a little cream cheese and organic cane sugar. If you've read Dianne's Dishes for a while then you know I'm a fan of both blueberries and cheesecake so this was a bit of an homage to both and I must say it turned out quite well. Jamison's mom and I both liked the finished product!

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish: Ready To Braid

I must be honest though and tell you that my braiding didn't really stick. One one of the Danishes it just popped completely open for the most part and in the one pictured below it popped a bit. But it didn't affect the taste, though it wasn't very pretty to look at. I looked at the diagrams and it just didn't come together and stick. Oh well. This is my second semi-failure in as many months. Part of that is probably because I was also baking Alexis' birthday cake, as well as some easy French bread and doing party prep all at the same time. You could say I was just a little busy! ;oP

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish: Baked

As you can see when it went into the oven it looked like it was ok:

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish: Baking

I even liked the way the ends came together and they actually held!

The dough for this was also gorgeous, but then again I love dough in general.

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish: Dough

It was soft and springy and just perfect! I chose to omit the cardamom and since I was using blueberries I incorporated lemon instead of orange, which was also an allowed change.

Now let's talk flaky! This dough baked up to be so flaky! There was just layer upon layer of beautiful flakiness! I had never made anything like this before and I was very pleased with the result. It was really good the first morning after having cooled overnight, but still good the next day too! I'll definitely be making this again and I'd like to play around with fillings too!

Daring Bakers June 2008: Danish

So there you have it my June Daring Bakers challenge! Be sure to stop over at the Daring Bakers blogroll and see what all the other bakers cooked up!

I can't wait to see what next month brings!

What You'll Need for the Danish Dough:
(Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough)
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

What You'll Need for the Butter Block (Beurrage):
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour


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.


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. 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.

(Makes enough for 2 large braids)
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups filling, jam, or preserves

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. 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

Spray cooking oil 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.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 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 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.

Posted by Dianne at June 29, 2008 10:26 AM

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Tracked on June 30, 2008 8:36 AM


Your braids look delicious!

Posted by: Ann at June 29, 2008 10:30 AM

Thanks Ann!

Posted by: Dianne at June 29, 2008 11:20 AM

Wow, your layers are really pronounced. Great job. And those slices look superb, no one would ever know that the braid didn't do what you wanted it to.

Posted by: rainbowbrown at June 29, 2008 11:32 AM

Oh wow, just wow, your braids look great, love the filling

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Posted by: Ulrike at June 29, 2008 11:36 AM

yuuuuum! I love blueberries and cream cheese! Your braid looks delicious!

Posted by: Heather B at June 29, 2008 12:13 PM

I love how you can see the distinct layers in your finished braid. Mine looks more bread-y. I agree that this dough is incredibly delicious. I'll be making it again. =)

Posted by: Di at June 29, 2008 1:31 PM

I like the color of your filling!

Posted by: zorra at June 29, 2008 1:53 PM

Lovely. I love the contract of the blueberries with the dough. Wonderful job!

Posted by: Karen at June 29, 2008 5:28 PM

good grief that blueberry filling looks amazing...great job!

Posted by: Susan at June 29, 2008 7:14 PM

Blueberry and cream cheese filling - delicious! My braiding didn't really stick either - the dough was just so soft.

Posted by: Heather Peskin at June 29, 2008 8:59 PM

Blueberries and cream cheese -- one of my favorite combinations. Your lamination turned out wonderfully!

Posted by: Susan/Wild Yeast at June 29, 2008 9:00 PM

Good combination, I did cherries. Blueberries would have been yum. Sorry about the break open, as long as it tasted good right?!

Posted by: Sathya at June 29, 2008 9:03 PM

I wish I'd added whole blueberries to my blueberry version. They look delicious!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Posted by: Shari at June 29, 2008 9:15 PM

The blueberry/cream cheese combo sounds really tasty, and your dough looks like it turned out perfect with all the layers.

Posted by: Andrea at June 29, 2008 10:21 PM

Hi! Love the blueberry cream-cheese filling. This was a really tasty challenge and I had a good time with it as well. :) I did apple and also a plum/rosemary sugar filling, 'cause I couldn't make just one. haha.


Posted by: Seamaiden at June 29, 2008 10:27 PM

They look quite good, just that they opened up to reveal a colourful filling.
These challenges do require some planning and lots of time.:)

Posted by: Aparna at June 30, 2008 7:13 AM

What a wonderful filling!! And once you cut it into pieces, I couldn't even tell it had popped open. Great job!

Posted by: Deborah at June 30, 2008 12:16 PM

i love your blueberry filling. i think the trick might be less filling, but they still look delish!

Posted by: mimi at June 30, 2008 12:34 PM

WEll done on your braids!

Posted by: breadchick at June 30, 2008 3:53 PM

Oh my gawd Dianne, I don't care if they're bakery window perfect, your blueberry braids have me drooling on my keyboard. Gorgeous, they are.

Posted by: Dolores at July 1, 2008 3:37 PM

The filling is so gorgeous looking in that flaky pastry dough! You did a terrific job. Delicious :)

Posted by: Jen Yu at July 2, 2008 9:25 PM

I,too, LOVED the way this dough felt! It was the first thing I said when I pulled it out to start the lamination. You did a great job! That filling looks absolutely divine.

Posted by: Claire at July 3, 2008 4:24 PM

Blueberry cheesecake sounds like a great filling. Yummy.

Posted by: Jenny at July 4, 2008 10:22 AM

Thanks everyone! This was definitely a keeper! I'll make it again in the future and make a savory filling and I'd also like to play around with more fruit fillings too.

Posted by: Dianne at July 4, 2008 10:59 AM

Blueberry and cream cheese, what a great choice! Your braid looks delish!

Posted by: Barbara at July 4, 2008 4:46 PM

I think your braids look really good. You did a great job. Thank you for baking with us :)

Posted by: Ben at July 4, 2008 10:20 PM

I'm a big fan of blueberries and cream cheese! :o)

Thanks for co-hosting this month Ben...You guys picked an awesome recipe! :o)

Posted by: Dianne at July 5, 2008 9:49 AM

I have a blueberry and cream cheese filled braid in the oven right. now. I can hardly wait!

Posted by: Lisa at July 5, 2008 1:30 PM

I'm going to make this again the next time we have over night company. I think next time I may do a pineapple filling of some sort...Or maybe cherry...

Posted by: Dianne at July 6, 2008 6:01 PM

I'm jealous of your layers! Great job!

Posted by: Mari at July 7, 2008 10:53 AM

I was surprised by the layers when it bake up. I wasn't sure what to expect!

Posted by: Dianne at July 7, 2008 1:45 PM

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