by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Beatrice Ojakangas
The dough for this recipe is a laminated dough, much like what we used when we made croissants, but way easier and less time consuming. Those of you unfamiliar with the term laminated dough - this is where a slab of butter is enrobed with dough, then rolled, folded (like a business letter), rolled, folded - several times. The more you roll and fold the dough, the flakier your pastry will be.
For this recipe, the butter was sliced in large pieces and pulsed for a very short time (you want the butter to be no smaller than 1/2-inch in diameter) in a food processor with the flour, before being mixed ever so lightly with the rest of the ingredients, then chilled overnight before proceeding with the rolling and folding of the dough.
The danish braid recipe calls for only half the recipe of the pastry dough. I went ahead and made the full amount and placed the rest in the freezer for a later time, thinking this is going to be good, and just may want to make another!
With the fall weather upon us, I decided to go with an apple filling instead of the recommended apricot, prune or berry jam, topped with a confectioner's cream or almond filling. I also forwent the coffee glaze (made from coffee and powdered sugar), one - it did not sound good to me, two - it doesn't need it - before baking, the pastry is topped with almonds and sugar.
This was good. I thought it tasted even better the following day; and the boys at the shop devoured the rest - one, whom is watching what he eats, said it was so good, he had two pieces. :)
I'm happy I have more dough on-the-ready in the freezer. I'm looking forward to making pinwheels filled with maybe a pear-cranberry filling, spiced with cardamom. Sound good?
The beginnings of the apple filling.
I had enough dough from the scraps to make a pinwheel (OK, enough for two, but I ate that dough).
How cute are pinwheels?!! I wish I had made all pinwheels. Next batch!
Please visit my fellow bakers to see what version they have baked up. You can find their links on the LYL: Danish Braid link over on the Tuesdays with Dorie website.
Makes 2 pounds of dough
¼ cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoons salt
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter
Pour the water into a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast, and let it soften for a minute. Add the milk, egg, sugar, and salt and whisk to mix - set aside.
Put the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cut the butter into ¼-inch-thick slices and drop them onto the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are about ½ inch in diameter. Don’t overdo this – the pieces must not be smaller than ½ inch.
Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl as needed, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Again, don’t be too energetic – the butter must remain in discrete pieces so that you will produce a flaky pastry, not a bread or cookie dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 4 days).
Lightly flour a work surface (a cool surface, such as marble, is ideal), turn the dough out onto it, and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square. Then roll it into a square about 16 inches on a side. (A French [tapered] rolling pin works best). Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so that the closed fold is on your left, like the spine of a book. (If at any time the dough becomes to soft to roll, cover with plastic wrap and give it a quick chill).
Roll the dough out again, this time into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold again in thirds, turning it so the closed fold is to your left, and roll it into a 20-inch square. Fold the square in thirds, turning so the closed fold is again on your left, and, once more, roll the dough into a long narrow rectangle, 20 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold in thirds again, wrap the dough well in plastic, and chill it for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 2 days. (Depending on what you plan to do with the dough, you might want to divide it in half now.)
The dough is now ready to be shaped, filled, and baked.
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan/Contributing Baker: Beatrice Ojakangas
Apple Danish Braid
Serves 6 to 8
Recipe adapted from Baking with Julia (click here for original recipe.)
½ recipe Danish pastry dough, chilled
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 Tbl. butter
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. water, or more if needed
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamom (optional)
Pinch of salt
3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used Honeycrisp)
1 large egg white, beaten
Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes, for sprinkling (I used Demerara sugar)
Sliced un-blanched or chopped blanched almonds, for garnish (optional)
In a large pan, combine sugars, butter, cornstarch, water, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Heat, stirring until thickened slightly. Add more water if it becomes too thick. Add apples and combine. Remove from heat and let cool while you prepare the dough.
Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a rectangle 10 inches wide and 16 inches long. Lift onto a sheet of parchment, and position lengthwise on a work surface. Spread the apple filling down the length of the center third of the dough. Using a pizza cutter or the point of a sharp knife, cut 12 to 14 slanting lines down each side, angling the cuts from the center (edge of filling) of the pastry out to the edge, and cutting strips about 3/4 inch wide. Fold the strips of pastry into the center, crisscrossing the filling by alternating one strip from the left side of the pastry with one from the right. Lightly press the ends together to seal and run your hands along the sides of the pastry to straighten them.
Brush the pastry with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with pearl sugar and almonds. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, until it looks and feels puffy; it will not double in size.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Slide the braid, paper and all, onto a baking sheet; bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until golden. Transfer the pastry to a cooling rack.
Baking with Julia/Dorie Greenspan/Contributing Baker: Beatrice Ojakangas