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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grilled Chicken Breast with Sauteed Peppers and Mozzarella

It is quite hot and dry out here in my corner of Denver. For the past week now, we have been expecting 'scattered thunder storms', but they never seem to materialize in our neck of the woods (or plains, I should say). Along with our poor dead lawn, and our garden we are fighting to keep moist, we do not have any sort of cooling system in our home, aside from 2 ceiling fans; one which has never worked.

To combat the heat indoors, we decided last night to have a grilled dinner. This meal was fabulous, and I have to give my husband at least partial credit, because we came up with it together. It seems that our best and favorite recipes are almost always created together. One of us comes up with a starting ingredient, and then we alternate throwing things in. It seems to work out well; at least in this case it did!

Grilled Chicken Breast with Sauteed Peppers and Mozzarella

One of our favorite flavor combinations is basil, mozzarella and peppers. This recipe combines them into a fabulous and beautiful meal that no one could resist...unless your a vegetarian.

2 Chicken Breasts, butterflied, lightly rubbed with Olive Oil and salt & peppered on both sides
Red, Yellow and Orange Bell Peppers, or any pepper you like, sliced into strips
1/2 large White Onion, sliced into strips
1 or 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced
Fresh Basil leaves

Fire up the 'ol Char-Broil and let it pre-heat with the lid down. If you have a side burner on your grill, use it to saute your onions and peppers in the olive oil with a cast iron skillet (or whatever you have). If you don't have a side burner, you can put the pan directly on the grill; just make sure to leave the pan's handle over the edge so that you don't burn your hand by touching it. While sauteing the peppers and onions, place your chicken on the grill and flip it to the other side about half way through. Your chicken is done when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160* to 170* f. Just make sure there is no pink inside--remember, I like you, and I would hate for you to get a nasty bug :) Once the veggies are sauteed and the chicken is finished cooking, place the chicken on a plate, lay the mozzarella along the top to begin melting, lay the veggies over the cheese and place a few basil leaves on top.

Voila, your ready!

Another idea is to use your food processor to make a sort of 'bell pepper pesto' by throwing peppers, onions, garlic and basil into the processor and whirling them up with a bit of EVOO. You can then stuff the chicken breasts with the mixture, along with the mozzarella. Use a wooden skewer soaked in water to 'sew' them shut and grill them that way. Either way, they are as tasty as can be ;)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not-So-Red Velvet Meringue Cupcakes

The other day was my husband Mark's birthday. One of his favorite cakes is a red velvet cake, so being the loving wife that I am, I decided to make it for him. I decided that it would be nice to make cupcakes instead because, well, I think they are cooler :) Cupcakes are better than full cakes. They are the perfect portion, and you cant argue with that. Cupcakes rock. I pulled all of my mis en place together and made sure to check the ingredients lists for anything questionable. The only item that I was unsure about was the red food coloring. I'm just not down with the Modified Food Starch, so I kicked it out of the recipe...hence the name "Not-So-Red".
I wanted to make them special and a little bit different; something that he has never had before, so I thought it would be cool to incorporate a meringue disk inside the cupcakes. It's something that I learned in culinary school back in the day, and it is classic in a lot of European tortes to include meringue disks as a layer. Thinking about it a bit more, I decided that instead of splitting each cupcake to add a disk inside, I would use the meringue in place of the cream cheese frosting. I would make meringue "kisses" if you will. It was very simple, I measured the top of the muffin rounds with a corresponding round pastry cutter to find the right size. I then placed the cutter onto my silpat lined baking sheet and spooned the whipped egg whites into the cutter. I pulled the cutter off and used the back of a spoon to kind of mound a 'dollop' shape, or a 'kiss'. I then baked them off in a 200* oven until they dried out.

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I cut the tops off to make a flat surface. I then spread just a bit of raspberry ganache on them, sort of as a glue if you will, and then I placed the meringues on the top. Voila! They turned out beautifully, and so delicious! It made for quite a nice dessert with different textures. Paired up with some ice cream and a few raspberries, it lightens it up quite nicely.


Not-So-Red Velvet Meringue Cupcakes

2 whole Eggs, room temp
1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 1/4 C Sylvan Border Farms GF All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 C Butter
1 1/2 C Sugar (or Agave/sugar substitute)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 C Buttermilk (or soured milk)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp white Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 350*. Sift together the flour, xanthan gum and salt. To make sure there is no lumps, it is very important that you don't skip the sifting part. Cream the butter and sugar together in a separate mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and then each egg, one at a time, until each is incorporated. Turning your mixer on low, add in the cocoa powder. Alternately add in the milk and flour, making sure to end on flour. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar, then add it into the batter. Mix thoroughly.

You will have enough batter to make 24 big cupcakes or 2- 9" cakes. You could also make 12 cupcakes and 1- 9" cake. Whatever combo you want :) The batter will be turbo thick...the vinegar has an effect on the eggs, and it begins to coagulate them fairly quickly, so be patient and work quickly while spooning them into your pans. Bake them for about 30 minutes or so. Depending on your altitude, it could take less or more time. I would check it after 20 or 25 minutes, and watch it after that.

*Cooks Note- If you have red food coloring that you would like to use, just mix a couple Tbsp in with the cocoa powder to make a paste and incorporate it into the batter as directed.

-recipe inspired by Ruth Lendrick, off of the Food Network site
1 1/2 # Milk chocolate
1 C Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 C Raspberry Jam

Place the chocolate into a large glass bowl. Bring the cream up to scalding on the stove, while mixing the jam into it. Once scalding, pour the cream/jam mixture over the chocolate. Let it sit there, without stirring for about 3-5 minutes. This is to allow the heat from the cream to melt the chocolate without incorporating air into it, and will create a more glossy and fine appearance to your ganache. Using a rubber scraper (spatula), gently and slowly stir the ganache together. Work in small circles, and do not incorporate air. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes,basically until your cupcakes are cooled.

4 Egg Whites
6 Tbsp Sugar

Using a mixer, beat the whites and sugar together until medium/stiff peaks are formed. Proceed by following the directions in description above.

*Cooks Note: Humidity will soften your meringues, so it is best to eat these the same day, unless you live in Nevada and it never rains. Then they will last for a few weeks! :)


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick Little Ditty: Basil Cream Fruit Salad with Mango Crisps

Sometimes I just want something quick, really good, light and refreshing to eat. I don't want to put a ton of time or effort into it, but I do want it to taste good. And I don't want to feel guilty about eating it either :)

This is the perfect recipe for a time like that. It is simple, quick, and super tasty. Use whatever you happen to have on hand, and it makes for a perfect treat. Sometimes I even mix fresh with canned. I'm talking about fruit salad, of course!

There is no right or wrong fruit to put in, just toss in what you have and what you like. My fruit salad happens to have fresh watermelon, orange wedges and cherries with canned (drained and rinsed) peaches and pears. On top, just a dollop of lightly agave-sweetened whipped cream and a chiffonade of basil. For a perfect sweet/tart crunch, sprinkle over some dehydrated mango chunks (Just Mango).

The perfect treat for a hot June day (or any day for that matter) !

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mango Creme Brulee

You may be wondering where I have been. We did get back from Mexico in May, and you have read all about that already, yet I have not posted since. Well, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have been sucked into reading the Twilight series. And now I am addicted to those darn books! I had to finish them, no matter what or who else suffered. I didn't even create anything to blog about! This whole time, either Mark has made dinner, or I decided that cold cereal would suffice. I'm just as obsessed with this series as any teenage girl in this country is, except for that I'm 25, so I feel pretty lame.

Since I have been so out of touch and lazy, I decided to post an awesome recipe that I have been meaning to mention for quite some time. I promised Melissa at Gluten Free For Good forever ago that I would post this. This was back when she was talking about mangoes, so that says how long ago it was :) Anyhow, it is so easy and sooo delicious, and I'd be willing to bet that you will make this more than once.

Mango Creme Brulee

3 Mangoes, small diced
2 Cups Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt, strained through cheese cloth overnight
Juice and Zest of 1 large Lime
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
2 tsp. ground Ginger
Turbinado Sugar (or just brown sugar)

Beat all of the ingredients together except for the mango and sugar. Once combined, fold in the mangoes. Divide between 3-4 ramekins or coffee mugs, whatever you have. Chill overnight with plastic wrap completely covering them. If you do not have time to chill overnight, at least chill for a few hours. Once ready to serve, sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the surface evenly and, using a torch, caramelize the sugar until bubbly and golden, but not black. Once cooled, serve!

For those of you who are dairy free, why not try silken tofu in place of cream cheese and yogurt?

Elle, give this a try with raspberries and lime! Let me know what you think!!!

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