Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Danish Braid

This is my first month as a Daring Baker, and when I saw the challenge, I was more than a bit concerned. In fact, my first thought was 'Oh no! I can't make that'! But in fact I can, and I did! This month's challenge is hosted by Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin.

The last time I made a laminated dough was when I worked at Restaurant Kevin Taylor in Denver as the assistant pastry chef back in 2004. That was pre-celiac days, and it was a long time ago. The last time I made specifically Danish dough was in pastry school in 2003. That was even longer ago! The only thing that saved me in this challenge is my professional training, and that I know the science behind this. It is a very technical and time consuming pastry to make, and each step must be followed perfectly or else you will end up emulsifying the butter into the dough and then it wont be flaky and tender. If that happens than whats the point in working so hard in the first place?

It is actually not as difficult as it seems, as long as you follow the rules and treat the dough very is gluten free! No gluten=easy tearing. Just treat it and braid it as you would if you were working with pie dough.

I changed my filling from the original recipe to go along with the fruit I had available in my kitchen, so you are welcome to do the same if you wish. Also, the changes I made to make this GF are in blue.

The one thing that I was a little bummed about was that it never really rose much. I proofed it in approx 90* temps for about 2 hours, and it didn't budge. That's gluten free bread for ya ;) Other than that, I am pleased as punch!

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
1- 2/3 cups Sylvan Border Farms GF All Purpose Flour
1- 2/3 cups Pamela's Wheat Free Bread Mix
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup Sylvan Border Farms GF AP 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.


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 Sylvan Border Farms 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 note 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 (I didn't do this...again, there is no gluten to rest). 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. GF Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 2 days. Any longer than that, and the Xanthan Gum will make it dry as sand and tough.

Makes enough for two braids

2 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 Mangoes, peeled cut from the seed and cut into 1/4-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 in a large sauce pot and simmer until reduced into a thick caramely goodness :) Pour the filling onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) It will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After it has 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
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves

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 (Sylvan Border Farms), roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. 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. Be very gentle while braiding.

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 1 day, or freeze for a couple of days.


Lauren said...

Wow. Your braid looks amazing. Also, you make some really good points about not resting it for 5 hours. I like that idea. Definitely something to change for next time. Thanks!

Tiffany said...

Thanks Lauren! What a fun challenge this was! Yeah, there is no need to rest the dough for 5 hours when there is no gluten. We just need to make sure that the butter is always kept cold :)

Anonymous said...

Apple and mango sound absolutely scrumptiously delicious!! Really well done, I know it's a challenge to bake GF but you make it look easy :)

Em said...

congrats on completing your first DB challenge - looks great!

have a delicious day :)

Lorrie said...

yay for your first challenge! you did an amazing job!

Tiffany said...

Madcap-Thanks so much! It takes me a long time to figure out what I'm doing, so I appreciate that!

Thanks, Em! I'm super excited to be part of the Daring Bakers :)

Lorrie, thanks for stopping by, yours looks fabulous as well!

Jo said...

Good job on your 1st challenge! I was in the same spot as you last month but after going thru the 1st challenge, I'm sure you'll be waiting for the next.

Gluten Free Steve said...

Tiffany - this looks great! You should be proud of yourself.

Cakelaw said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Wonderful looking braid Tiffany - and the fact that it is gluten free makes it extra special.

Elle said...

Tiffany, welcome to the DB's! You did a fabulous job, and I love the fliing!

The Good Eatah said...

I am so impressed! It's gorgeous! Great work, Tiff!

breadchick said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers and wonderful job on your first challenge!

abby said...

lovely braid tiffany - what a great way to start with the daring bakers!

Tiffany said...

Wow, thanks everyone! I had a lot of fun making this, I really appreciate everyones comments! You are all so nice! :)

Emilia said...

This looks great, I can't actually believe it's gluten-free, it looks so good and like the real thing.

I've been afraid of trying something like this, but your post gave me some new courage to maybe try this.

You are really talented and it's great to see things like this done gluten-free :)

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Wow! I am impressed!

Debyi said...

Your braid looks amazing, great job in making it gluten free. Apple Mango sounds like a great combination.

Claire said...

That braid is so beautiful! Such tight braids.

Leslie said...

Love the Braid...I tagged you for a meme on my site..if you would like to participate you are more than welcome to!

Olivia said...

WOW. that looks amazing. I had no idea gluten free pastries like this were even possible. You, my friend, are one talented lady.

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