Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers June: Success with Yeast (Finally!!)

My word. I knew if the Daring Bakers pushed long enough, I would make friends with yeast. (At least, I'd hoped so.) My comfort level rose a bit with this pizza dough (especially since I've made it half a dozen times since), so I went into this challenge confident... at least as far as the yeast was concerned.

I'll be honest, when Kelly and Ben announced this Danish braid, I did shiver in my flip-flops. Laminated dough? Fold and turn, what? O dear. I felt like the potential for disaster was strong. However. This is clearly something I've never done before - and something I've always wanted to try... what better opportunity than with the Daring Bakers? With such a level of support, I knew it would be fun.

The month of June really got away from me. Middle of last week it finally sank in that I HAD to get this challenge done! I did a quick search for fillings and decided on this hybrid of cream cheese/peach filling, and then a second easy one - nutella and chocolate. So Saturday night, I made the dough, chilled it, added the butter and performed all the turns, setting the dough up for a relaxing nap in the fridge overnight.

I wish you could have been there, during all that rolling out. I wanted to make sure it was the right size, so I pulled out my trusty tape measure. Imagine a kitchen in disarray, flour coating most surfaces, sprinkled on the cat, a girl feverishly rolling... only to grab her dusty industrial tape measure and mutter to herself... ah, good times. I even used it for the flap creation... I know, I know, I have a problem. :)

Flapped, filled and folded, my babies got their proof on - and you know what? They actually rose! Hurray! This is usually the part in the story when I have to admit that my yeast defeated me... but not this time! Friendship has been forged! Awesome! Two and a half hours of resting and I popped the braid and little danish rolls into the oven.

Let me tell you, if I could bottle how wonderful my apartment smelled while the danishes baked... Not only would I be like this chick, but I could make a small fortune in sales. Sweet, slightly fruity, warm and cozy... that was my apartment yesterday morning. Before my first bite, I was completely in love with the danishes. While neither Dave nor I could place why, the flavor was familiar to us - the spices involved (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, orange and lemon zest) were heavily reminiscent of Fall, but didn't seem out of place. I don't make coffee at home anymore, but I can't wait to have a slice with my morning tea!!

These Daring Bakers are amazing people. I have learned so much month-to-month and made so many new friends... I can't imagine food blogging any other way! To see this wonderful group in action, check out the other Daring Bakers' wonderful creations!

Daring Bakers June: DANISH DOUGH

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.

Peach and Cream Cheese Filling

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 or 3 ripe fresh peaches, peeled
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl beat together the cream cheese, the sugar, the yolk, the vanilla, the salt, the zests, and the flour until the mixture is smooth and chill the filling, covered, for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Slice peaches into a large bowl and sprinkle with a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups 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.


NatNibbles said...

Looks delicious! It came out great :)

Deborah said...

I did a cream cheese/peach filling as well, but I did jam. I'm so glad the yeast didn't defeat you - a perfect challenge!

Pam said...

The peach and cream cheese filling looks so tasty! The braids look great.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

So glad you were able to make friends with the yeast. Wonderful braids -- great filling choices!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! And I'm glad to arrive at yours!

Your nutella filling is an inspired idea... yum!! I was thinking about making the dough again for plain croissants... but perhaps instead I'll make nutella croissants!

Kevin said...

Your danish braid looks good! I like all of that cream cheese in the filling along with the peaches. It did really smell good while baking.

onespicymama said...

Great filling choices - one can never go wrong with Nutella! Great job!

Renee said...

Nice post and GREAT pictures! Your braid looks great.

cakebrain said...

Wow, you did a fantastic job with your braid. Making bread is so satisfying, isn't it? I think your peach and cream cheese filling sounds delicious

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your braid looks great! Delicious! Very well done...



Y said...

I like cream cheese in danishes, but nutella and chocolate sounds rather tempting too :)

Jen Yu said...

Oh wow, these look terrific! You did such a great job on this challenge. I like the little pastries especially - I love little foods ;)

farida said...

I like your braid a lot. And your filling too. Next time I should experiment with something other than chocolate:) Great job!

Miss Ifi said...

I also wanted to bottle all of the smells that surfaced from this dough!!! And wow cream cheese and peach just sounds wonderful!!
Congratulations on you yummy looking braids and little pastries.. just wonderful!!!

Mary said...

Ha! That has to be my favorite commercial of all time!
I love the big chunks of peach in your filling. Very delicious looking!

sher said...

How beautiful! You did an amzing job!

DaviMack said...

Glad you're making friends with yeast! Next up: sourdough! ;)

Candace said...

Glad to see you made friends with yeast! Great job on this challenge!

Gabi said...

Beautiful braid work- I'm glad you made friends with the yeast!
I can so relate to the tape measure thing- although I keep a clear flat plastic graphics ruler in my utensil drawer ;)

breadchick said...

Ah see, you and yeast CAN get along! Very nice job on your challenge this month.

Stephanie said...

These are stunning!! They look absolutely perfect (and delicious!)

eatme_delicious said...

Yum they look good! I love the fillings you chose to do.

Shari said...

I had my tape measure out too!!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I loved this challenge too! I love your nutella filling! I am sure that would have gone GREAT with the dough! Yummy!

creampuff said...

You have totally conquered the yeast! Nice job!

Jenny said...

I love the idea of peaches as filling, so sweet and juicy.

Laura Rebecca said...

Nicely done! Congratulations on making peace with the yeast! :)

Dolores said...

I've often thought that I could make money by baking our challenge recipes in the kitchens of homes for sale... an hour or two before the open house starts. This one would work GREAT.

Congratulations on conquering the yeast demon... your braids are beautiful.