Sunday, June 29, 2008

June Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

I was so excited about this month's Daring Bakers! I had never made a laminated dough before, and it was always the sort of thing I would look at in cookbooks and just skip over. So while I was a little intimidated, I was also excited to finally have a reason to get over my fears of laminated dough!

Now, let me tell you, this is not a recipe for the faint of heart. It took me about 2 days to make and I was definitely exhausted by the end. However, it was also totally worth it. You could make this easier by using a prepared filling (I think a delicious jam would be great) instead of making homemade fillings. were the danishes? Totally amazing. This is definitely one of those recipes where what you can make yourself is better than what you'd get at the bakery. I especially thought this was true with the fruit filling, right out of the oven. Warm danish! Amazing! I made two fillings, chocolate-orange pastry cream and raspberry-peach. The chocolate-pastry cream danish was much prettier, I think because the filling was thicker. The raspberry-peach filling was much too liquid-y, and exploded a bit in the oven, but it tasted amazing. Most tasters preferred the fruit filling, although there were some chocolate-pastry cream devotees as well. My friend John gave me the highest compliment in saying these reminded him of the pastries he got in France! I topped the danishes with a quick glaze of milk and powdered sugar.

The recipe for the danish dough is available here, and I didn't make any changes to it. Below are the filling recipes. I would definitely recommend the chocolate-pastry cream recipe as is, perhaps with a tad less orange zest in the pastry cream. As I said above, the raspberry-peach filling was really too liquid-y, so it might be better in something like danish turnovers. (Although, it did taste amazing, so maybe that's more important than beauty!)

Thanks so much to hosts Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? and check out everyone's danish braids here!

Orange Pastry Cream (from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking)

2 cups milk
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T flour or cornstarch
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks or 3 large eggs, chilled
1 T unsalted butter, softened

Bring the milk, 1/4 c sugar, orange zest, and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, sift together the remaining 1/4 c sugar, the flour or cornstarch, and salt onto a piece of parchment paper. Whisk the egg yolks or eggs in a large bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients and whisk until fluffy.

When milk comes to a simmer, remove from heat and ladle out 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Drizzle it slowly into the eggs while whisking. Once incorporated, pour the mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly. Be sure to scrape all the eggs into the pan with a rubber spatula.

Immediately begin to rapidly whisk the pastry cream. In less than 1 minute, it will boil and begin to thicken. Continue to whisk about 3 minutes, until the cream is the consistency of pudding. To test for doneness, tilt the pan to one side. The cream should pull away from the side of the pan.

Strain pastry cream into a dry bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted and incorporated. If the cream seems grainy, pulse in a food processor until smooth (this really works!).

To make the chocolate-pastry cream filling, spread a generous portion of the pastry cream down the center of your dough (I used about 3/4 of my pastry cream). Top with 9 ounces of finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used Sharffen-Berger).

Raspberry-Peach Filling (from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

3 T freshly squeeze lemon juice
1 T cornstarch
1 1/2 c fresh raspberries
1 1/4 c sugar
Pinch salt
1 medium peach

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 c of the raspberries, the sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring over medium heat, until the mixture begins to simmer. Stirring constantly, add the cornstarch and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Strain the cooled mixture into the saucepan, then add the remaining 3/4 c raspberries. Cook until bubbling and thickened. Let cool. While the raspberries are cooling, peel and cut the peach into 1/2 inch dice. Stir into the cooled raspberries.

Beautiful Chocolate-Pastry Cream Danish!

Exploded Raspberry-Peach Danish!


  1. Orande pastry cream sounds fabulous but I'd go for that chocolate one. Yummm!
    Great challenge, wasn't it?

  2. lol, i had an explosion as well, kinda scary, but cool.

    Your braids look great!

  3. Oh it is so much work, but also so delicious, no?

    Love your braids!

  4. U r so right - Such recipes are among those which I drool in mags and then flip over to the other one - since I always thought they were much outside my league! DB made that possible.

    Your look amazing.I esp loved Orange Pastry Cream - I am gng to try that one next :)

  5. Orange pastry cream must have made a wonderful filling! And the other one even if it exploded it must have tasted great as well!

  6. Looks beautiful! I almost made a peach melba style braid as well, but used peaches and raspberries seperately (two different pastries). I found that when I made my filling with fresh peaches, I let it sit overnight (not intentionally, I just didn't end up making it the night I thought I would so made it the next day instead) and by the time I made it the next morning the peaches had extruded a LOT of juice. I used a slotted spoon to reduce the "juice" in my braid and it worked out great - though if I had made the braid immediately I'm sure that I'd have experienced a blow-out as well!

    Regardless, it looks yummy!


  7. Everything sounds delish - nice job :)

  8. MM wow orange pastry cream sounds really differnt and delicious!
    Good job.

  9. Nice looking braids! My strawberry filling came out the sides of mine as well.

  10. I think a lot of us had the problem with stuff oozing out! Looks like they tasted great anyway!

  11. your orange cream sounds wonderful!

  12. Orange cream..interesting flavour...

  13. Oooooooo ..... myyyyyyyy..... GOODNESS! This danish looks absolutely devine!!

    Everyone did such a great job ... I think I'm gonna re-do mine and see what else I can do. Though, it is an all day job, right?! LOL :)

  14. you did a great job on this..the orange pastry cream sounds luscious!

  15. Your braid looks great- I love the icing!

  16. Exploded or not, that danish sure looks yummy! Good job.

  17. I love the combination of raspberries and peaches, so that one is calling out to me!! Great job!

  18. That orange pastry cream sounds yummy! I printed it out for future use. Your braids look wonderful!

  19. I'm with you... I typically pass these kinds of recipes up for later, when I have time. And I'm glad Kelly and Ben nudged both of us to find the time.

    Your orange pastry cream's now on my list to try.

  20. Raspberry-peach! Sounds delicious.

  21. Your first braid is perfect. The second made me laugh when I read your description - but I still think it looks beautiful. Great job on the challenge. I can't wait to try it again (well, yes I can - I'll wait until it's cooler).

  22. Ohhh chocolate is such a great idea!!!

  23. Looks fantastic! I think my brother would like the chocolate one.

  24. Great job. I know the recipe can be intimidating but your braids turned out beautiful, even the exploded looks delicious! Thank you for baking with us :)

  25. Your pastry cream fillings sound good!