Daring Bakers Challenge : Cherry and Cream Cheese Danish Braid

It’s aliiiiiive!

Did I ever tell you that I’ve always wanted to be an extra in a b-grade film? I think I would have made a kick-ass shopping mall zombie or a skeleton warrior that gets felled by Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness. Need a scream on cue? All I have to do is shut my eyes and recall the time I dropped a bag of icing sugar that went pfloopf down my jeans and all over the kitchen floor. Shriek.

Meanwhile, I can only dream while in my kitchen, hunched over the oven and peering through the glass, going, “Master! Master! The danish.. it’s aliiiiive!”

Baking with yeast has that kind of effect on me. I still get a childish glee from seeing magic happen in the oven. So it was with great joy that I discovered this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, as chosen by Kelly and Ben was going to be a danish braid.

I have to confess, I’ve made this particular danish recipe before. It was more than a year ago, when I needed to make some danishes and was testing out a few recipes I had at hand. While the end result was delicious, it wasn’t what I was looking for in a danish. Still, there were several aspects about the danish that I really liked, and I ended up incorporating elements of it into my final recipe.

Danishes are one of those breakfast or tea time foods that I don’t indulge in often. For something sweet to start the day, I’d much rather have brioche, or a little muffin. That said, I love making danishes. Danish dough usually has that pleasant plumpness and smoothness that makes it a joy to work with (this particular recipe however, I found quite tough to roll out), and I love watching the pastry expand and brown in the oven. If you have the time, a home-made danish is one thing that is well worth the trouble – even if they might not turn out looking as professional as something you’d find at the shops, they always seem to taste infinitely better than anything you could buy.

Danish dough :
(the measurements in brackets are my own conversions)

For the dough (detrempe):
28g fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup (140g) whole milk
1/3 cup (85g) 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 (80g) fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cup (560g) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block:
226g cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup (45g) plain flour

Dough (detrempe):
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.

Butter Block:
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.

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.

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.

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.

36 Comments »

  1. Clumbsy Cookie said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 1:15 am

    You are fast!!!!!!!!!!! The very first braid of the month! You’re right homemade is allways taste better, yours looks very good.

  2. Dolores said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 1:35 am

    The first of the braids are coming in! And yours looks sensational. Like you, I was a bit nervous with this one (my first time with this recipe and with laminate dough from scratch) but quite pleased with the results. :)

  3. Aran said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 4:32 am

    very, very nice layers!!!

  4. courtney said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 7:36 am

    I too wasnt completly enamored of the dough recipe, but it had been a while since I made puff pastry. Nevertheless these look sensational.And yes I would take my less than perfect homemade version over anything we can buy. Love the cherries and cream cheese combo.

  5. steph (whisk/spoon) said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 8:38 am

    looks lovely! i agree with you though that I don’t often desire a danish for brekkie

  6. megan said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 8:56 am

    My daughter wanted cherry and I didnt do it. Yours looks great. But I have some dough left in the freezer. :)

  7. Cakelaw said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 9:21 am

    Cherry cream cheese filling – delightful!

  8. pea & pear said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    This was my first daring bakers challenge… yours looks amazing, of course!! If I am ever making a B Grade horror movie (stranger things have happened) you will be my first choice !!
    Ali

  9. Eva said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

    Your braid looks spectacular! Although I would have liked to make it, again no time for this month’s challenge – guess I have to call it quits soon…

  10. Lorraine E said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

    That looks great. I wish I liked danishes less but I can eat so much Danish at one time, it’s embarrassing. And cherry is my favourite filling for practically everything!

  11. Miri said,

    June 29, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

    Wonderful looking danish braid! I was delighted to discover your beautiful blog, I’ll be back soon for more :)

  12. Mom Quixote said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 1:31 am

    LOL – yeast is a freaky thing, isn’t it?

    I found my dough really difficult to roll out, too, but having never rolled out ANY kind of dough, probably didn’t know any better.

    Great job!

  13. Vera said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 5:51 am

    Your braid looks gorgeous! Very nicely puffed and flaky!

  14. breadchick said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 8:17 am

    I’d say all that practice with the recipe and the adapting worked out just perfect!

  15. Lorrie said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    you did an amazing job, I love your blog too!

  16. cyn said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    nice job y! n i agree, it does taste waaaay better than store-bought ones!

  17. tian said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 11:43 am

    hi!

    luv that your danish is deep brown, not like some limp pale ones from shops.
    reminds me of luneburger’s cherry danish actually.

    fr someone with heaps of experience, what’s your advice for someone who wld love to enter into the pastry/baking world down the track (when she has had enough of the 9-to-5-office)? .. do you start off with a cert 1 course from TAFE or places like le cordon bleu? thxx!

  18. Sophie said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

    Hehe! You are too funny. I have to agree, working with yeast is tons of fun.

    The filling you chose sounds deeelish!

  19. Helen said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

    Oh your braid is beautiful! I didn’t get a chance to do the challenge this month and I am totally gutted! It looks so delicious.

  20. linda said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 11:02 pm

    Your braid looks wonderful! Should have used a cherry filling too…yum!

  21. Katie B. said,

    July 1, 2008 @ 5:11 am

    Yum!! Your braid looks fantastic!!

  22. Sophie said,

    July 1, 2008 @ 11:40 am

    Just wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for an award just now :D . Congrats!

  23. Tartelette said,

    July 1, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    Mouth watering! Love the cherry-cheese filling! B. was an extra in a b-grade movie in college, and he still talks about it even if they cut the scene where he was!!

  24. Susan said,

    July 1, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

    I think I look like an extra in a zombie movie, especially after an all-nighter with this dough!
    Yours turned out great…and if you ever make into showbiz – wow them with this danish!
    -Susan of http://doughmesstic.blogspot.com

  25. Madam Chow said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 12:41 am

    Wonderful flaky layers – and your lavender granita in the previous post is gorgeous!

  26. marika said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 12:56 am

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the kind comments! – I never get tired of looking at these danishes…the only problem is, with each viewing I want to go make it again. Next time I’m quadrupling the dough for sure :) I love love love your sketch in the title banner of your blog – love it!

  27. Liliana said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 1:52 am

    The cherry-cream cheese filling sounds delicious! Your braids have a nice rich colour! It was the first time I made Danish pastry and now I am hooked!

  28. Rosa said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 2:01 am

    Your braid looks great and delicious! Very well done!

    cheers,

    Rosa

  29. Sophie said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 5:29 am

    I just realized I forgot to post the actual award on my blog! I’ll do it later this evening when I get home from work :) – you can copy and paste it onto your blog from there :) .

  30. tian said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 7:46 am

    thanks Y!

  31. Christie @ fig&cherry said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 10:54 am

    Great shot, nice and bright. I wonder if you live near me…. afternoon tea perhaps? ;)

  32. Elizabeth said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

    oh boy! That cherry filling sure looks tasty!

  33. CookiePie said,

    July 2, 2008 @ 11:50 pm

    What a beautiful, delicious-looking braid! Well done!!

  34. myriam said,

    July 4, 2008 @ 8:02 am

    i put cream cheese into everything. why the heck didnt i think about it this time? – great filling. love it!

  35. Tiffany said,

    July 5, 2008 @ 2:43 am

    Hahahaha…I had the same reaction the first time I ever used yeast. It kind of freaked me out, watching it squirm and bubble!! Thanks for stopping by my blog….here’s to July’s Challenge!!!

  36. Claire said,

    July 6, 2008 @ 4:30 am

    Great job. These look fantastic! And you got to do them for a second time!

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