Last 4 challenges of Daring bakers were sweet items and I was reconsidering whether I had to continue in this group or leave it because I could not take so much sweet.Â Â I had missed March and April challenges both of which were sweets and I could not finish the May challenge because it was too sweet for me. Unlike any other sweets I make, I usually don’t like to change anything in DB challenges as they need exact measurements for their success. But then I simply love to learn new things and with Daring Baker’s I am guaranteed to learn something new every month, so I really don’t know what to do.Â All the members of this group are great, so I really enjoy being in this lovely group.Â So when I saw this challenge, I was very very happy.Â Ohh, are you confused because this is also a sweet? That is because even though it is sweet, it is very very suitable for my taste buds because it has a very very tasty bread which I absolutely adore. So far, this has turned out to be my favorite challenge. I simply adored this. This is also the first challenge,Â where I made it twice in one month and both times, we relished it and finished the whole thing. Yay…
This month’s challenge is hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of Whatâ€™s Cookinâ€™?. Thanks a lot guys for picking up this challenge. When I first read this challenge, I thought they had done spelling mistakes and instead of bread, they had written braid, then soon realized how stupid I was. I just searched Danish braid in Google and there were hundreds of results. It looked so impressive that I had to try it immediately. Yes, I actually tried this very early, in the first week itself.
First try – I absolutely had no difficulty in getting this right. I had a big batch of strawberries with me. So I tried this with strawberry filling. This is very time consuming recipe, so it took me most of the Saturday. One good thing I had done is, when the dough was resting for the first 30mins, I made the filling and refrigerated it. So by the time the dough was ready, the filling had completely cooled and was very thick (which is very important for the braid). I had made only half the quantity given in the recipe. All the time, I thought the yeast may not work and it may become a failure. Considering the time I had spent on it, I would have really freaked out if it had failed. So in the last stage, after 5hrs of waiting and making the braid, when it proofed well and doubled in volume, I almost danced with joy. Then I baked it, my entire house was filled with heavenly aroma. It was just out of the world delicious. I absolutely enjoyed the filling too.
Second try – In our office, we have “cook outs” every once or twice in a year. Though all of my teammates know my craze for cooking, I never cooked anything for them (apart from the chocolate cake which was tasted by only a few). This time I knew there will be many more at the lunch. Even though there are some who like Indian food, I am not comfortable cooking it for someone who don’t know much about it. I am not comfortable in cooking anything non-Indian for the fear that it may turn out to be disasters (Actually I didn’t want to spoil my image you know, they think I am a great cook and I would love it to continue that way). But since I had loved the pastry so much, I decided to bake this for the lunch. I didn’t go with the strawberry filling, because again, for the fear that it may not be something they would love. I decided to make it with apple filling given in the recipe and even though I don’t like cinnamon in sweets and hate everything that has apples in it, I thought to go with it (because I have seen this apple-cinnamon combo so many times on Food network, so I realized everyone would love it). This time I had made full quantity given in recipe. Also, used orange zest (the first time, I used lemon zest) in the pastry.
Everything went well this time too. But only problem was, the time constraint. I had prepared the dough on Thursday evening after office and on Friday morning, I had to bake this early morning and reach office by 8AM. I made one big and one smaller braid from 3/4th of dough. So things became a bit too tight that day for me. In a hurry, I baked it for a tad bit longer and it came out bit darker than I would have loved. But it still smelled amazing. Everyone at the office, loved it :). I was so happy. It was gone in minutes.
I had kept aside 1/4th of the dough. I made a small braid with it for a get together at home with my favorite strawberry filling. This time, instead of egg wash, I coated the braid with butter – because my guests don’t eat eggs, even though they said they don’t mind the eggs in pastries/cakes, I didn’t want even the eggy smell to pastry. This time, the filling was a bit watery, so the braids didn’t come out as expected. Even then, it was amazingly tasty.
I was going to make a savory braid again before this post with a savory filling. But since I was not keeping very well for last couple of days, I could not manage that. Anyway, I will do it sometime in future.
Click here for the recipe of Danish braid.
Some things to remember:
– Please follow the instructions exactly if you attempt this. Do not skip/change any of the steps of making the dough. Once you get hold of it, you can experiment with it, but first time, please follow exactly.
– The filling should not be watery, otherwise the braid opens up after proofing. So make it in advance and refrigerate it.
– Room temperature makes a difference too. My kitchen temperature remains at 70-80F all the time because of air conditioner.
– Remember, the yeast needs activation(if using active dry yeast) before using in this recipe. Leave the yeast in lukewarm water for 10mins allowing it to activate. Then continue.
Some other things I am going to do in future
– Some Indian and some non-Indian savory filling
– Change the flavoring of dough
Strawberry filling – This quantity is enough for half the quantity of the dough. The braid comes out huge and easily enough for 6-7 people. The nuts give a crunch and great taste to the filling. I loved the cardamom flavor of this filling very much.
1lb strawberries chopped into small pieces
1 cup sugar
2 and 1/2 tea spn corn starch
1/2 tea spn powdered cardamom
3/4 cup (75gms) chopped almonds
1/2 tea spn butter
Take strawberries and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook on medium flame till the sugar is melted and become slightly thick. Now add corn starch, a little at a time mixing all the time. Take off heat and add cardamom powder.
In another pan, melt the butter. Add chopped almonds and fry for few minutes.
Add the almonds to strawberries. Mix well. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for few hours before using.
I am posting everything I know about this recipe. This point is for those who have been attempting Daring bakers recipes from here, skip/change some steps and say it did not work well for them. Remember, these recipes need some patience and expertise. When I made these, I was in one of my best moods and had reserved a lot of time for it. I am also a novice in this and just learning.
Update: For those who are worried about the butter quantity, if you calculate it properly, it comes to around 1tbl spn of butter per huge serving. I really don’t think it is too much because if you buy pastry sheets from market, they have too much of butter in them (which usually drips when you bake them). You won’t be eating this daily, so once in a while, I think so much butter is not too much.