Thursday, July 10, 2008

Danish Braid

I remember eating Danish pastries growing up. I used to always the enjoy them - the light flaky pastry and the delicious custard fillings. I'ts been years since I've had a good Danish pastry so when I found myself looking at all the Danish braids on the blogs that I read from time to time I decided it was time to make my very one Danish braid. The thought of working with dough - especially laminated dough - has always scared me. I always thought that it was not something easy enough for the ordinary home baker to attempt. It wasn't until I found a post on Fanny's blog that I was inspired to make one. She says that her recipe for dough is easy and very forgiving so with that I printed the recipe and I was off to make my very first homemade Danish braid.

With all the pastry cream I had from the day before I decided to double the recipe and make two braids. One with chocolate (finding good chocolate chips here is like trying to get water from a rock and the only ones you can get in the shops are the "plastic" type) and one with strawberry jam. I have some good quality chocolate at home so I used half a slab and broke it into chunks.

If you want a good tasting dessert always use good quality chocolate like Lindt or Callebaut. I didn't use any of the two for this recipe because I had other good chocolate at home.

Can you guess what chocolate this is?

It's Beacon Superfine chocolate (50% I think). I wouldn't say it's as good as Lindt or Callebaut but it is pretty good. If you find this chocolate too expensive any other chocolate will do. Just make sure you use a dark or semi-sweet chocolate.

First I mixed together all the dry ingredients in a bowl. I made a well in the flour mixture then poured in the wet ingredients (I mixed all the wet ingredients together just enough to break the egg yolks) into the well.

I didn't have to add anymore flour because my dough was just right. Then into the fridge the dough went to rest for 30 minutes (are you counting).

After the dough had rested it was time for my first turn.

First I rolled the dough into a rectangle. I need to improve my rolling skills since it wasn't so easy getting the dough into a nice rectangular shape. Then I spread the butterblock - which I made while the dough was resting with a mixture of flour and butter - over the centre and right thirds of the rectangle.

Then I folded the left end of the dough over the centre so that it covers half the butter and then I completed the turn by folding the right side of the dough over the left side of the dough which I had just folded. I placed the dough back into the fridge to rest for another 30 minutes (still counting).

After the dough had rested I rolled it out into a rectangle and did the tour double (don't ask I just followed the recipe instructions) that the recipe asked for. I visually divided the dough in half and then folded the left side of the dough to meet the (visual) centre line. Next I folded the right side of the dough over to meet the centre line. I then folded the left side of the dough over to the right to create the "closed book".

Whew I was glad I effortlessly figured out how to do this. Thanks to Fanny for her wonderful instructions. The diagram she posted really simplified things.

Then back into the fridge the dough went to rest for yet another 30 minutes. After the dough had rested I rolled it out and did my final turn. This time I had to leave the dough in the fridge for about 1 to 2 hours.

Then it was time to make the braid. I enjoyed this part a lot since it was the part I was looking forward to the most. I must say that I wasn't as successful as I was hoping to be. I used too much filling so it made braiding the dough difficult since the filling was just oozing out. I also ended up with big although this didn't cause much of a problem during baking. The filling still stayed inside. Note to self: next time I will use less pastry cream/filling.

I forgot to take pictures of the chocolate and vanilla pastry cream braid. Overall I was happy with the end results. The only problem I had was braiding the dough and that's because I put in too much filling. The braid was utterly delicious. I was surprised at how good my dough turned out - light and flaky.

You can go the to the Foodbeam blog for the recipe

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