June Daring Bakers Challenge!

This month’s challenge was to make a danish braid. A little bit more straightforward than last month’s Opera Cake, but still a challenge as not only does making a danish require making a dough similar in process to a puff pastry, it’s also a yeast dough. Yeast seems to scare quite a few people. But not me. What scares me is my Kitchen Aid dough hook. Now I love my pink lady and, in the past, I have said I would more than happily run away with it if only it would ask me. But I would definitely make it choose – it could have me or the dough hook. Not both. When I use the dough hook, my dough always, always comes out tough and then proceeds to not rise. So I was a little wary of doing this the easy way.

But let’s face it, those of you who know me, know I’m all about doing things the easy way. 😉

And it worked! The dough was very tough to begin with and I wasn’t sure that my mixer was actually strong enough to keep going, but I thought ‘I always worry that I’m over-dough-hooking the dough, maybe I’m under-dough-hooking the dough’ and let it go on its merry way. Now I won’t say that the dough did not seem a little on the tough side, but in the end, whatever I did worked.

The recipe we were given made enough danish dough for two braids, so I went with a cherry filling (with a cream cheese filling that I forgot to take a picture of):

and the apple filling provided in the recipe (along with an almond pastry cream which I again neglected to take a picture of):

Then you roll out the dough, put your fillings in the middle, cut the edges into strips, and braid away!

Then they sit for TWO HOURS to rise (I don’t know how anybody actually manages to make this for breakfast).

(That’s before the rise on the left and after on the right.) Then into the oven for about a half an hour apiece. The cherry-filled one ended up being less aesthetically pleasing than the apple one – I think I cut the strips on the left side a little bit narrower than those on the right and they sort of expanded and pulled apart a little bit during baking. But it still tastes yummy!

And now a couple of close-up… The cherry and cream cheese braid:

And the apple and almond pastry cream braid:

We’ll see how well they hold up. Right now they are terribly delicious – maybe even one of my best kitchen creations – they’re just a bit warm, the outside is a little bit crunchy, and the inside is chewy and sweet. Yum!

The only drawback is that it did take me three days to make it. I made the dough on Friday, the fillings on Saturday, and then put everything together and baked on Sunday. That and I now have rather an abundance of apple filling, cherry filling, pastry cream, and cream cheese filling. I haven’t quite decided how to use it up yet – more danish? Pies? Something else?

This challenge was really fun and I’m very, very proud of the way the braids turned out. Even though it was time-consuming, I would definitely make it again, although it does require planning ahead. Again, click on the Daring Bakers logo up at the top of this post to go to the master blogroll of participants to see what everybody else has been baking up!

ETA: Having made a lackluster version of this using a dough recipe from Martha Stewart (in an attempt to use up the rest of the fillings), I feel obligated to post the far superior Daring Bakers version…

Click here for the recipe