Danish Braid with Chocolate and Raspberry Filling

Recipe from What's For Lunch, Honey?  

Danish Braid
from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking
Terminology:

  • Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough
  • Detrempe – ball of dough
  • Beurrage – butter block
  • Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns.  Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.

DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients

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


Dough
Using a standing mixer:
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.


Butter Block
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. 

Storing: 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.

FILLING

Chocolate Pastry Cream & Raspberries
Chocolate pastry cream adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé's written by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 900 g of pastry cream

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
200 g bittersweet chocolate, melted
40 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g fresh raspberries

Preparation

Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Set aside a smaller bowl that will fit inside the ice bath and hold the pastry cream. Also set aside a fine meshed strainer.

In a small saucepan bring the milk to the boil. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in another medium sized saucepan.

Once the milk is hot you will need to temper the egg mixture by adding tablespoonfuls of the milk to the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Still whisking, once the egg mixture starts to warm up, slowly pour in the rest of the milk.

Strain the mixture into the saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Whisking vigorously, without stopping, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep the mixture at a boil - whisking with all your might - for 1 to 2 minutes.

Still over the heat, whisk in the melted chocolate. Remove from heat and scrape the pastry cream into the small bowl. 

The pastry cream should be thick, smooth and without any lumps.

Set the bowl holding the pastry cream in the ice bath, stirring frequently to keep the mixture smooth. Cool the pastry cream to 60 degrees C, then remove from the once bath and stir in the butter in three or four additions. Return the cream to the ice bath and leave it there until it has completely cooled.

Storing: Covered tightly with plastic wrap and pressing the plastic against the cream's surface to create and airtight seal, the pastry cream will remain fresh in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Leftovers: Use the rest as a dessert on it's own scattered with fresh raspberries and pistachios. Or use it to make other chocolate pastries.

Apple Filling
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
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. 

Storing: After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Leftovers: The filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Assembling the Danish Braid
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups filling, chocolate pastry cream or apple filling (see above)
For the egg wash:  1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

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.

Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  If using the chocolate pastry cream scatter the raspberries over the pastry cream.

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.

Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid. I scattered my braids with hazelnut brittle and coarse sugar.

Proofing and Baking
Spray or brush cooking oil  onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 35 degree C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200 degrees C.  Position a rack in the center 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 180 degrees C, 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. 

Storing: The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.