Danish braid with spicy strawberries and Lillet

Danish braid with spicy strawberries and Lillet

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.

Braided danish dough

This month’s challenge is being hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’. Thanks to both of them for organizing this and for the jaunt outside my comfort zone.

Chocolate Croissant

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)
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

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

Butter block for danish pastries

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

2 1/2 C wild strawberries
1/2 C sugar
3 Tbs tapica starch
2 Tbs Lillet Blanc
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

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.

Strawberry filling on dough and ready to braid

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

1 large egg
1 tsp cream

Braid ready to proof

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.

Straight out of the oven

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.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Regardless of the problem with the tapioca, it still looks great. Nice work, I can’t believe it’s your first time :)

    Do you think the tapioca would have worked fine if you’d processed it with a food processor to a fine powder?

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com manggy

    Regardless of the problem with the tapioca, it still looks great. Nice work, I can’t believe it’s your first time :)

    Do you think the tapioca would have worked fine if you’d processed it with a food processor to a fine powder?

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Tartelette

    And then you had to throw Lillet into it….just to give me Lillet envy!! Arghhhh! You did awesome Marc! Bravo!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Tartelette

    And then you had to throw Lillet into it….just to give me Lillet envy!! Arghhhh! You did awesome Marc! Bravo!

  • http://bigblackdogs.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    The braids just get better and better. Fantastic job and great idea on the filling!

  • http://bigblackdogs.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    The braids just get better and better. Fantastic job and great idea on the filling!

  • http://siliconespatula.blogspot.com/ silicone_spatula

    ooh spicy strawberries. interesting flavor. great job on the challenge! it looks really good!

  • http://siliconespatula.blogspot.com silicone_spatula

    ooh spicy strawberries. interesting flavor. great job on the challenge! it looks really good!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    spicy strawberries sounds awesome! i like the sound of black pepper with it. might be a little daunting at first but i would love to try it. gorgeous looking braid and you’re a genius for saving the dough an d turning it into croissants.

    oh sure looks like the perfect grab-and-run breakfast which i’ll need tmr morning!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    spicy strawberries sounds awesome! i like the sound of black pepper with it. might be a little daunting at first but i would love to try it. gorgeous looking braid and you’re a genius for saving the dough an d turning it into croissants.

    oh sure looks like the perfect grab-and-run breakfast which i’ll need tmr morning!

  • http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/ Aran

    absolutely beautiful Marc!

  • http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/ Aran

    absolutely beautiful Marc!

  • http://www.fairycakeheaven.blogspot.com/ Rachel@fairycakeheaven

    wow this looks fantastic, black pepper and strawberries are so good!!! Lovely croissants aswell

  • http://www.fairycakeheaven.blogspot.com Rachel@fairycakeheaven

    wow this looks fantastic, black pepper and strawberries are so good!!! Lovely croissants aswell

  • http://www.fairycakeheaven.blogspot.com/ Rachel@fairycakeheaven

    Thanks for your comment Marc, I sprinkled a ground almond and light brown sugar mix on top

  • http://www.fairycakeheaven.blogspot.com Rachel@fairycakeheaven

    Thanks for your comment Marc, I sprinkled a ground almond and light brown sugar mix on top

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    Gorgeous! I love it…so beautiful.

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    Gorgeous! I love it…so beautiful.

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com/ courtney

    Beautiful work Marc. I remeber grinding pearl tapioca once in my spice grinder for apple pie filling. It worked.

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com courtney

    Beautiful work Marc. I remeber grinding pearl tapioca once in my spice grinder for apple pie filling. It worked.

  • http://www.clumbsycookie.blogspot.com/ Clumbsy Cookie

    Spicy strawberries! Uh I love it!

  • http://www.clumbsycookie.blogspot.com/ Clumbsy Cookie

    Spicy strawberries! Uh I love it!

  • http://momquixote.wordpress.com/ Mom Quixote

    Ya, even with the problems I had, I still thought this was much easier than last month’s cake.

    Your braid and croissants couldn’t look more perfect!

  • http://momquixote.wordpress.com/ Mom Quixote

    Ya, even with the problems I had, I still thought this was much easier than last month’s cake.

    Your braid and croissants couldn’t look more perfect!

  • http://purplefoods.blogspot.com/ Coco

    Beautiful and shiny danish braid. Looks so pretty!

  • http://purplefoods.blogspot.com Coco

    Beautiful and shiny danish braid. Looks so pretty!

  • http://madcapcupcake.wordpress.com/ marika

    Beautiful job- looks delicious!!

  • http://madcapcupcake.wordpress.com marika

    Beautiful job- looks delicious!!

  • http://paletteable.livejournal.com/ Dove

    Nice work! You know, I sort of like lumpy tapioca. ;-) I wish I’d made croissants, too. Oh, jeez. Such a sucker for buttery pastry!

  • http://paletteable.livejournal.com Dove

    Nice work! You know, I sort of like lumpy tapioca. ;-) I wish I’d made croissants, too. Oh, jeez. Such a sucker for buttery pastry!

  • http://www.beautifullayers.com/ Lorrie

    This looks amazing, you did a really nice job :)

  • http://www.beautifullayers.com Lorrie

    This looks amazing, you did a really nice job :)

  • http://www.sweetpeapatisserie.blogspot.com/ Kristen

    Great JOb! It looks delicious. The croisants look amazing and sound absolutely mouth watering!

  • http://www.sweetpeapatisserie.blogspot.com Kristen

    Great JOb! It looks delicious. The croisants look amazing and sound absolutely mouth watering!

  • http://azcookbook.com/ farida

    Your Danish Braid looks so beautiful! Mine didn’t rise much because I did a lousy job with the dough turns:) Spicy strawberries sound like an exotic feeling:) Great job!

  • http://azcookbook.com farida

    Your Danish Braid looks so beautiful! Mine didn’t rise much because I did a lousy job with the dough turns:) Spicy strawberries sound like an exotic feeling:) Great job!

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/ Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,C

    Your braid looks amazing, Marc! The strawberry filling is making my mouth water. I like a pinch of black pepper with berries too. Excellent job!

    I hate to sound ignorant, but what is Lillet? I don’t think I’ve heard of it before.

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    Your braid looks amazing, Marc! The strawberry filling is making my mouth water. I like a pinch of black pepper with berries too. Excellent job!

    I hate to sound ignorant, but what is Lillet? I don’t think I’ve heard of it before.

  • http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com/ Rosa

    Your braid looks fantastic! I love the filling you used! delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com Rosa

    Your braid looks fantastic! I love the filling you used! delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • http://appleandspice.blogspot.com/ katie

    Ohhh strawberries and black pepper thats a really adventurous filling. I bet it tasted great.

  • http://appleandspice.blogspot.com katie

    Ohhh strawberries and black pepper thats a really adventurous filling. I bet it tasted great.

  • http://www.whiskblog.com/ Shari

    I love the idea of tapioca to thicken your fruit filling. I’m going to have to try that! Chocolate croissants for breakfast – how decadent!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  • http://www.whiskblog.com/ Shari

    I love the idea of tapioca to thicken your fruit filling. I’m going to have to try that! Chocolate croissants for breakfast – how decadent!
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  • http://www.shelbymaelawstories.blogspot.com/ HoneyB

    Great looking braid! Yummy!

  • http://www.shelbymaelawstories.blogspot.com HoneyB

    Great looking braid! Yummy!

  • http://www.mydiversekitchen.blogspot.com/ Aparna

    Beautiful braid, especially the croissant. Interesting filling.

  • http://www.mydiversekitchen.blogspot.com Aparna

    Beautiful braid, especially the croissant. Interesting filling.

  • http://feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com/ maybelles mom (feeding maybell

    sounds like you had a cross between a danish and a bubble tea. but it looks lovely, and i love strawberry and pepper.

  • http://feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com maybelles mom (feeding maybelle)

    sounds like you had a cross between a danish and a bubble tea. but it looks lovely, and i love strawberry and pepper.

  • http://www.sugarlaws.com/ katy

    looks amazing, and your croissants too!!! i kind of wish i hadn’t halved the dough recipe — croissants are still on my to-cook list!!

  • http://www.sugarlaws.com katy

    looks amazing, and your croissants too!!! i kind of wish i hadn’t halved the dough recipe — croissants are still on my to-cook list!!

  • http://abeautifulmosaic.wordpress.com/ onespicymama

    Tapioca pearls notwithstanding, beautiful job! Great photographs!

  • http://abeautifulmosaic.wordpress.com onespicymama

    Tapioca pearls notwithstanding, beautiful job! Great photographs!

  • http://www.onehappyhubbard.com/ Laura

    Those chocolate croissants look soooooo good!

  • http://www.onehappyhubbard.com Laura

    Those chocolate croissants look soooooo good!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Your braid looks great! So do the croissants!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Your braid looks great! So do the croissants!

  • http://lunchbucketbento.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    I’m sort of intrigued with the whole tapioca idea! Even if it wasn’t quite what you intended :)

  • http://lunchbucketbento.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    I’m sort of intrigued with the whole tapioca idea! Even if it wasn’t quite what you intended :)

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ syrie

    Nice work Marc. It looks so beautiful.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ syrie

    Nice work Marc. It looks so beautiful.

  • http://ofchocolateandmangos.blogspot.com/ Amber

    Spicy wild strawberries, just the name is exotic. Now you make me want to make more dough just to copy your croissants.

  • http://ofchocolateandmangos.blogspot.com/ Amber

    Spicy wild strawberries, just the name is exotic. Now you make me want to make more dough just to copy your croissants.

  • http://jenyu.net/blog/ Jen Yu

    What lovely pictures and I have to say the braid and the little croissants are beautiful! Fantastic job on the challenge. Really gorgeous.

  • http://jenyu.net/blog/ Jen Yu

    What lovely pictures and I have to say the braid and the little croissants are beautiful! Fantastic job on the challenge. Really gorgeous.

  • http://www.ezrapoundcake.com/ Rebecca

    Really nice photos. Good job!

  • http://www.ezrapoundcake.com Rebecca

    Really nice photos. Good job!

  • http://miss-ifi.blogspot.com/ Miss Ifi

    Wow.. your croissants look sooo perfect I would have never guessed you’ve never made laminated dough!!.. you did a FANTASTIC job on this challenge!!!
    Congratulations.. now.. could I please have one of those chocolate croissants??? oh.. and your pictures are amazing.. all of the pictures all over your blog are amazing… I am a fan!

  • http://miss-ifi.blogspot.com/ Miss Ifi

    Wow.. your croissants look sooo perfect I would have never guessed you’ve never made laminated dough!!.. you did a FANTASTIC job on this challenge!!!
    Congratulations.. now.. could I please have one of those chocolate croissants??? oh.. and your pictures are amazing.. all of the pictures all over your blog are amazing… I am a fan!

  • http://breadchick.com/ breadchick

    Lillet! What a wonderfully creative addition to your filling. Well done.

  • http://breadchick.com breadchick

    Lillet! What a wonderfully creative addition to your filling. Well done.

  • http://www.sugarlaws.com/ katy

    mmmmm… chocolate croissants… yum!!! your braid looks great!

  • http://www.sugarlaws.com katy

    mmmmm… chocolate croissants… yum!!! your braid looks great!

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  • http://www.bakingobsession.com/ Vera

    Marc, what an amazing braid filling! All pastries look gorgeous!

  • http://www.bakingobsession.com Vera

    Marc, what an amazing braid filling! All pastries look gorgeous!

  • http://www.cookiedoc.blogspot.com/ Claire

    Looks fantastic! Tapioca…interesting. I LOVE the strawberries.

  • http://www.cookiedoc.blogspot.com Claire

    Looks fantastic! Tapioca…interesting. I LOVE the strawberries.

  • Monica

    what is the other recipe you would use to make the danish braid?

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!