Kats’ Kitchen

Cherry-Almond Danish Braid – June’s DB Challenge June 29, 2008

Filed under: Breakfast — stacielk @ 2:00 am
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When I found out June’s Daring Baker’s challenge was a Danish Braid, I was pretty excited.  One, because I’ve never attempted anything like it and two, I’ve always wants to try and recreate a cherry almond coffee cake my mom used to buy from a local bakery when I was young. 

The family loved it and the leftovers were brought to the co-workers who wow’d it.  My filling consisted of almond paste and dried cherries.  The almond paste made the filling pretty rich, which is probably why everyone liked it, especially in between layers of the danish dough. 

I made funny looking Cinnamon rolls with the remainder of the dough, which also disappeared quickly.  (the funny looking ones aren’t pictures:)

The danish dough that was made was similar to a puff pastry.  There were a number of flaky layers.  I’m looking forward to making this dough again.  It’s a little time consuming, but so simple if you follow the directions carefully.

Thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for hosting this month’s challenge.  It has probably been my favorite since I became a Daring Baker in February.  

DANISH DOUGHMakes 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
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose 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.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

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 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.
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.  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.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

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, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick.  If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.  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.

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 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Cherry Almond Filling

(Recipe from:  unknown)

8 oz almond paste

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 Tbsp flour

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup chopped fruits, raisins or dates

Mix the almond paste, sugar and butter well.  Add the flour and egg.  Blend in the nuts and fruits.  This will make 3 generous cups of filling and will fill two 12″ coffee cakes. 


13 Responses to “Cherry-Almond Danish Braid – June’s DB Challenge”

  1. Judy Says:

    Your braid looks incredible! Great job on it!

  2. Jeanine Says:

    YUMMY!! Great job on this month’s challenge! Looks delicious!

  3. farida Says:

    You did a great job! I love the idea of using almonds in the filling.

  4. Lorrie Says:

    your filling is mouth watering! wonderful job!

  5. Amber Says:

    Your braid is beautiful and the filling combination sounds divine!

  6. Chantal Says:

    Your braid looks sexy!

    Filling sounds absolutely delicious..doesn’t this braid make you wanna make it over and over again?

  7. madcapCupcake Says:

    Cherry and almond sounds so divine…

  8. Susan Says:

    wow that looks great! however did you have enough to take to work?? the cinnamon rolls were a great idea, too – I may try that!
    -Susan of http://doughmesstic.blogspot.com

  9. breadchick Says:

    I’ll bet that was a knock out danish! Well done.

  10. Rebecca Says:

    Gorgeous braiding. And almond paste? YUM.

  11. Melanie Says:

    Oooh, the dried cherries and almond paste sounds delicious. Beautiful braid!

  12. Debyi Says:

    Your braid looks great! Cherry Almond filling sounds delicious!!!

  13. Claire Says:

    Great job! Looks fantastic.

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