The thought of making a laminated dough has always terrified me which is why I have a handful of bakeries I like to frequent for buttery flaky baked goods such as croissants and danish pastries. So when I logged in to check out the June Challenge, I was a bit concerned.
It's a bit time consuming but after last month's hazing, this was a piece of cake. I may even try this again (albeit with a different recipe for the dough).
For the filling I used a bag of wild strawberries I'd frozen for just such an occasion and cooked it with Lillet and a bit of black pepper to give it a little kick. I didn't actually have time to run out to get tapioca starch (which is my preferred thickener for fruit fillings), so I cheated and used pearl tapioca which was a BIG mistake. Even after cooking it for 30 minutes the pearls refused to soften (probably because there wasn't enough liquid), so I was left with slightly chewy balls of tapica in my filling. It wasn't bad... just a bit odd.
Oh and the best part was that this made enough dough to make 2 braids so I threw half the dough in the fridge and made these chocolate croissants for breakfast this morning:-)
For the dough (Detrempe)
For the butter block (Beurrage)
Spicy strawberry Lillet filling
Proofing and baking
- for the dough
- 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.
- for the 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.
- Spicy strawberry Lillet filling
- Add the sugar and strawberries to a sauce pan and heat. In a small bowl, mix the tapioca, Lillet, lemon juice and black pepper.
- Once the strawberries have softened and released a good amount of juice, turn down the heat and stir in the tapioca mixture. Stir to combine and raise the temperature to thicken.
- Take off the heat and cool.
- for the braid
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- proofing and baking
- 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.
- Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
- Whisk together the whole egg and cream in a small bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
- 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 10 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.