Daring Bakers in June: Danish BraidJune 29, 2008 at 5:48 am | Posted in breakfast things, daring bakers, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads | 70 Comments
This month, the Daring Bakers tried our hands at making a laminated dough. Hosts Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking? chose a recipe for a Danish braid from Sherry Yard’s book The Secrets of Baking. While I can’t say that I ever feel the urge to have a Danish, I do appreciate tasty homemade breakfast treats, so I was looking forward to this challenge.
Like its sisters, puff pastry and croissant, a Danish is made from a butter-laminated, or layered, dough. This means a block of butter is encased in dough and repeatedly rolled and folded to create layers. Danish dough is sweet and contains a bit of yeast to help it rise (it also makes it a bit more bready than puff or croissant). While this type of dough may initially seem intimidating, it’s not hard to make in small quantities, and Danish dough is a good introduction to the laminating process.
The dough is flavored with cardamom, vanilla and orange. While the cardamom and vanilla were must-have flavors for me, I found the orange to be a bit too pronouned. If I made it again, I’d probably leave out the zest and use only the orange juice. We were allowed to choose our own filling, and I made mine with a center of sweetened quark cheese and cherries. It was great, but I was worried about having a runny filling so I was a little skimpy with the cherries. I wish I’d been a bit more liberal with them. Just about all sweet breakfast pastries should have an icing sugar glaze in my opinion, so I was liberal with that!
The full recipe provided by Kelly and Ben made two braids. I didn’t need that much, so I halved it to make just one. It was beautiful, and big enough for six quite healthy portions. And braiding dough is way easier than braiding hair, let me tell you. If I’d thought about it enough, maybe I would have made a smaller braid and saved aside some dough for other fun shapes like pinwheels…another time.
If you’d like to test your laminating and braiding skills, you can find the recipe in Kelly’s post or Ben’s post. And no need to worry if, even after you look at the zillions of braids on the DB Blogroll, you still feel nervous about trying it yourself. Kelly and Ben also pointed out a great video clip from Julia Child’s Baking with Julia series on PBS. This clip demos a different recipe by Beatrice Ojakangas, but the technique is very similar.