June DB Challenge: Danish Braid

June’s Daring Bakers Challenge, hosted by Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? is:
Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough
Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

Danish Braid

This was another intimidating recipe for me, where, had I not committed to making it for Daring Bakers, I probably wouldn’t be inclined to make it on my own. Just the mention of ‘yeasted’ and ‘laminated’ would have sent me running. But that was my purpose for joining Daring Bakers, wasn’t it? So here I go.

Braid with Apple Filling

Once I got started making the dough, though, it got easier. I read through the recipe once, then just followed each step one at a time. Once I got going and found a rhythm, it actually went pretty smoothly and I found the recipe was not as daunting as it looked on paper. Again, I didn’t deviate much from the original recipe for fear of messing it up. But now that I’ve done it once, I think I have some ideas for future variations. Plus, just looking at some of the variations other Daring Bakers have taken on their versions has inspired me.

By the way, the thing that perplexed me the most, the braiding part, my 10 year old daughter figured it out and did it all herself. 🙂

So without further ado, here’s the recipe with some photos of the process.


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.

Butter on Dough

Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.
First Fold

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. [I didn’t have room in my refrigerator so I used the freezer and reduced the time to 20 minutes. It speeded up the process a bit, and it didn’t seem to harm the dough at all]
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. [Since this recipe makes two braids, I cut the dough in half (see the laminated layers?) and froze one half to use for later. See instructions on freezing and defrosting following the photo.]

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.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple 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.

Braiding the Dough

[One addition we made, at the suggestion of the braider herself, The Clone, is to add cream cheese. By the time she mentioned this we had already spread the apple filling down the middle so there was no time to make a pastry cream. Instead, she just cut up some cream cheese and laid them in with the apple filling. They didn’t melt very well, but the flavor addition was good!]
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.

Danish Braid

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19 comments on “June DB Challenge: Danish Braid
  1. Dolores says:

    I’m glad you were able to overcome your initial discomfort with this challenge and dive in. You did a *sensational* job your braid (your daughter’s braid) is beautiful! 🙂

  2. Deeba says:

    What a pretty danish…I loved this challenge too, but wouldn’t have tried it had I not been part of DB. This is now a firm fave…my daughter was on the ball for the braiding too..she’s 11!!

  3. Lisa says:

    beautiful braid – tell the kid she does good work 🙂

  4. Claire says:

    Your right…we join to do things we wouldn’t normally, right?! Great job! I bet those chunks of cream cheese were great.

  5. Dexie says:

    OMG that looks good. hubs been bugging me to bake some bread ever since he got me the kitchen aid. will save this recipe for sure. Thanks 🙂

  6. Jen Yu says:

    Wow, look at all of those fabulous layers in your raw dough! It’s gorgeous!! I like the braid you made – very nice. Excellent work on your DB challenge.

  7. Amy says:

    I hear you on the braiding! I was confused too. It wasn’t until the second time around that I really understood what I was supposed to be doing.

  8. Great job! Well done to you and to your daughter, it’s perfectly “braided”!

  9. Elle says:

    Gorgeous braid! I love the addition of the cheese!

  10. breadchick says:

    Well done on your braid!

  11. linda says:

    Your braid looks perfect, your daughter is a great baker too!

  12. Looks beautiful! Cheese and apples is a good combination!

  13. Lorrie says:

    your braid looks amazing, great job!

  14. Kevin says:

    Nice looking braid! Look at all of those layers in the dough.

  15. Omom says:

    oooh, that looks so impressive! Clone did a great job 🙂
    Wish I could tast it, it looks yummmy!!!

  16. Robyn says:

    Your braid looks great and way to go for your daughter doing the braiding so well, she did better than I did! It really wasn’t as difficult as it looked, just time consuming.

  17. Ben says:

    I know it wasn’t that difficult, once you start kneading and folding the whole thing is a piece of Danish bread, right? And yay for yoour 10 year old daughter figuring the braiding part out. She will be a DB soon 🙂

    Thank you for baking with us 🙂

  18. Ann says:

    Really beautiful braid!

  19. CookiePie says:

    Beautiful job! I love the cream cheese addition – I bet it was tasty!

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