Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers June 2008 Challenge

This month's challenge was a bit different than previous challenges in that I handled the prep work. Usually J does the prepping and I waltz in like a Food Network chef and do the easy part. This time she's swamped with teaching an accelerated class in Summer Session. Prepping for this was the least I could do, really.

I loved this challenge. The recipe follows at the end of this post. It is a bit long, but boy is it worth it.

You make the dough and let it rest. According to everything I've read, the resting in important. I followed this recipe to the letter as it involves yeast and I have a bit of a yeast phobia. This came up for me when I realized that I had the stickiest dough on my hands -- literally. I kept adding flour in about 2 Tbls increments until it wasn't all stuck to me. I ended up adding about 3/4 of a cup more. It seemed like so much. I possibly worked it too much, but went ahead anyway.
After it rests, you slather butter on two thirds of it and fold, 4 X. After each fold, it rests and if you're like me, after each roll out you will spend a fair bit of time trying to stuff the butter mixture back in where it has leaked out. All this folding and rolling creates the flakiest layers. You can see them in the pics. Then you roll it out, fill it with something tasty, cut parallel lines, braid parallel lines over aforementioned tasty filling, egg wash, bake.
We made two of them -- the recipe makes two braids. The first we did was very similar to the one mentioned in the recipe, but we added, golden and dark, plumped raisins, plus almond paste. We did a pastry class a couple months ago and this was his filling for a similar pastry. This was so good, when J took a bite, she said, "It tastes like Entenmenn's. I mean that in a good way."
The second one we made was a savory version. Scrambled eggs, garlic and mushrooms with a bit of thyme and tomatoes. It was quite nice, although strange against the sweet orange and cardamom pastry.This pastry was light and flaky, soft and crisp. It melted in our mouths.
We would definitely do this one again. It's the sort of thing that you could make in stages and turn out at a party and everyone would go ooh and ahh.



Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

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

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.

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.

Makes enough for two braids

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.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

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.


Susie Homemaker said...

these both look so great - so glad I picked your blog to come to!

Ann said...

Two beautiful braids!
Ann at Redacted Recipes

Ally said...

They look beautiful, I love the savory combination!

Marika said...

Your braids look perfect :)
--madcap cupcake

Sweet Tooth said...

A savory version - neat! I can see the flavors competing with each other as you mention, but still - less of a guilty pleasure if done savory...


Angela said...

Your braids are so good-looking! Congratulations on a successful challenge!

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar

breadchick said...

I love the sweet and savory versions! Well done.

Dolores said...

Another savory braid. I love both of your flavor combinations, and I'm glad to hear the mushroom mixture didn't clash completely with the sweet dough.

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Oh, I'm loving your idea for the savory filling. Yum.


Claire said...

Looks great! I tried to convince my brother for an eg one, but he wanted chocolate!

Marye said...

Yum! Your braids look fantastic

Renee said...

Your braids look fantastic.

Jen Yu said...

Hurray for savories! Very nicely done with the sweet and savory braids. I split mine between sweet and savory too - yum! Your danish braids look awesome.

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice job! Entenmenn' a good way. - too funny!

kellypea said...

Mmmm...nice job. It's making me want it all over again! I never got around to doing a savory version, although I've enjoyed reading about those of you who did. YUM! And the almond paste & raisins sounds divine...On to the next challenge, right? ;)

Debyi said...

Your braids turned out perfect! Great job and kudos on making a savory version.