Monday, July 7, 2008

I dared to braid! And the Marmelade mix up!

I would think that many of you already have a clue to what I am talking about. If you still do not know, then read on.
But, before I continue with the actual story let me tell you a very original joke (which took place at my home). The marmelade mix up! As I call it.
This sunday, at breakfast, my 3 year old son Rishab was done eating and left more than half of the toast with marmelade. His papa who was also finished took him to wash his hands. I, the mumma, who loves marmelades, eyed this toast and started eating it. Rishab came and saw me eating the toast and questioned very seriously
" Warum hast du mein Toast gegessen?[Why did you eat my toast?]"
I said, " Es war so lecker, ich konnte es nicht wiederstehen. [It looked so tempting that I just couldn't 'withstand'(resist) it].
On hearing this, Rishab immediately ran to his papa and said " Papa, Mumma fand es so lecker, sie konnte nicht stehen! [Papa, Mumma found it so tasty that she could not stand!]"

Now, in case you are in no mood for these jokes then here is the real story:
I saw these mouthwatering and beeeeautiful looking Danish braids from Daring bakers club of bloggers, about a little more than a week ago. I first saw Meeta's post at What's for Lunch, Honey! Then I went on to look for the the recipes at their hosts webpages: Kelly of "Sass and Veracity" and Ben of "What's Cooking?". I fell more and more in love with this irresistable pastry. Infact, while reading the ingredients, I saw that I already had all the ingredients except for a fresh orange, which I knew I could buy easily. I has enough butter (you need a lot of it!), apples (hubby loves to eat anything baked with apples!), fresh yeast, which I had just bought, without really knowing what I would be making with it. Did I catch some invisible, unspoken waves / signals / vibratuions from the minds of the daring bakers club through their blogs??!!
I hardly use fresh yeast normally, but just felt like making something with it and had bought it.
Well, despite all that and all the excitement I felt after having gone through all the posts of this daring danish braid, I had little time that weekend and the days to follow, so, it had to wait.
But, I could not take it off my mind. Every day I would try to find some time, but was too afraid to make it in a hurry, as I have never baked with a puff pastry (Blätterteig in German) or for that matter made it myself. Nor this Danish pastry (Plunderteig in German).
So, this weeekend, despite having a lot to do: I had an invitation to a birthday party for my son (he is still too small for me to leave him alone) and taking care of the household and cooking for the weekend and so on, I still managed to somehow sqeeze this recipe into my time schedule. "Now or never!" I thought.
I did one part of the recipe (also here), of preparing the pastry dough on Saturday and the proofing and baking part on Sunday. I must admit, quite a few things did not run the way the should have. But, if you know me, I do not give up so easily. And since this was my first trial, I think they were not bad at all. (I'll surely make them again!) Right now my freezer is full of these yummylicious braids, already cut into pieces, so that I can take out the amount I need and when I need. Although, they will not last very long!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures before I cut them up or, for that matter, before I put powdered sugar on top of them, but maybe you can still make out the braid.
I used the apple filling as given in the recipe and prepared a quick fix raspberry marmelade (or jam, as you would say in English) with the raspberries I had bought along with the fresh orange for the dough.
For the jam, I mixed 250 g (about 1/2 pound) raspberries, mixed them with 2-3 tbsp sugar and about 100 g jam sugar in a deep plate and microwaved again and again while mixing in between until the right consistency was there (approx. 10 - 15 minutes) and the jam was ready. Check in betweeen the sugar content, if more is required. I let it cool down open, so that the rest of the heat makes it become even more thicker, which it did become. There are surely many much better and fancier recipes out there, but they will have to wait till I plan to make these braids again.
They were wonderful, despite all that, that went wrong! Delicious! We enjoyed it to the full.
Since I never liked egg washes on pastries. I always leave them out. I think the pastry tastes as good even without the egg wash.

Here is the recipe from Ben's What's cooking?:


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
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 two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-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 except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have 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 (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.


~nm said...

Oh my!! They look sooooooooooo tempting!!

You are getting to be such a pro at making all these delicious bakery items!!

Aparna Inguva said...

I hope mammma and papa were actually ablt to stehen after hearing what Rishab had to say. What a cutie!. The pastries look yummy! Kudos for daring.

PG said...

Aparna, after a big laugh, we managed to stand too, yes!
these are the moments where you can't do but laugh. I explained to him later, what the word means. :)