Saturday

She who dares makes...Danish Braid


Hamlet may well have said "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" but perhaps if he'd spent less time worrying about his Mum's sex-life and more time eating Danish pastries he might not have been so morose.

This month Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? challenged us to make a Danish Braid using the proper laminated Danish pastry dough. As Kelly and Ben explained to us, Danish pastry dough is a yeast-leavened dough from the same family as puff pastry which basically means it contains lots and lots of butter.

I was very excited about this month's challenge. Although Danish pastries aren't my bakery treat of choice (bring on the iced fingers) learning to make them would be a chance to acquire a real skill. I had visions of making traditional swirls full of juicy raisins and topped with a light glace icing, but our challengers told us we had to make a plait. Kelly and Ben suggested using an apple filling but I decided to stuff my plait with frangipane and poached pears. Yum.

As with many yeast recipes, making the pastry dough was time consuming but not labour intensive. Once you've completed the first dough stage you complete four 'turns' of the pastry sandwiching a big block of butter in between the folds of the dough. Yes, the big block of butter - that's why Danish pastries aren't Weight Watchers friendly. That said, the dough is flavoured with orange and cardamon so there must be some useful vitamins in there somewhere.
I had a rare evening with the house to myself so I was able to make the dough in peace with only the Wicked soundtrack (turned up loud) to accompany me (I have the music tastes of a camp old man). Unfortunately I don't have a stand mixer yet (one day darling pistachio KitchenAid you will be mine) so I had to follow Ben's instructions for making the dough by hand.

Ben suggested putting the flour on the surface and tipping the eggy, yeasty, milky liquid into a well in the middle. Hmmmm. All I can say is that bloody Ben must have a bloody degree in engineering because when I tipped my liquid into the centre of my (high-sided and artfully constructed) well all I got was this (believe me, this was only the start):
Yes at 10:00pm on a Saturday night to the sounds of Defying Gravity I found myself leaning across the counter trying to stem the eggy flow with my chest. Fingers webbed with dough, I cursed Ben and all the lucky people with mixers. Most of all I cursed myself. I knew this would happen. I should have trusted my instincts and just used a bowl. Ah well, I'm sure for some people, dough encrusted breasts are a turn-on.

While my dough chilled I made a simple almond cream and poached some pears. By this time it was nearly midnight so I left everything in the fridge and took my sticky self to bed. The next day I started the assembly process. I was a bit nervous about the plaiting, but a mis-spent youth preparing ponies' tails for gymkhanas stood me in good stead.
I left the plait to prove while I faffed around doing Sunday morning chores. Unfortunately I faffed for a little too long and the dough was perhaps a little too puffy. If I was being mean i would say it resembled Mr AB's cheeks after his wisdom teeth removal, but I'm a supportive girlfriend so wouldn't be so cruel (tee hee).
The finished result was excellent. I'm not sure the pastry was as flaky as it should have been, but filled with the frangipane and pears it was particularly moreish. In the end I put half of it in the freezer just to stop myself from slivering it every time I walked past. I would definitely recommend trying the pastry as it isn't as daunting as you might expect and there's something very satisfying about presenting homemade pastries to your loved ones.


Be sure to look at the other plaits here and if you fancy trying the dough yourself you can get the recipe here.

21 comments:

Dolores said...

Frangipane and poached pears... excellent idea! And I agree with you, this was challenging but far less difficult than I feared it would be.

glamah16 said...

Beautiful combo.I love pears and the frangipane sounds delightful. I iced mine in the freezer too.

enza said...

pears pears I love pears!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

oh pears and frangipane - Divine!!! bet it tasted so good, would have loved to have thought of this!

Robyn said...

Great braid, your post was hilarious! I applaud you for going ahead with this without a mixer!

Lorrie said...

I love your pear filling! I too cursed everyone with standing mixers :)

Ann said...

Wonderful choice of filling... and how dedicated of you to make it on the counter-top!

breadchick said...

What a wonderful summery filling!! And most of the folks who made their dough by hand, had similar looking doughs. I'm going to have to try it by hand next time.

Angela said...

Pears and frangipane... what a fabulous combination!

Your braid is beautiful.

Natalie... said...

Ooh sounds really different and delicious, great combo!
Your braids look fantastic.

jillian said...

The pear filling sounds wonderful, and I also found myself working with the dough late into the night.

marye said...

Great job! it looks wonderful.

Jen Yu said...

Yum, that looks delish! The almond slivers are a very nice touch :)

Claire said...

Your braid looks fantastic! And Wicked!!!!! I'm going to see that at the end of the month and am SOOOOOO excited. Plan on getting the soundtrack!

Celine's Cuisine said...

It looks really yummy pear/ almond a great combination must be delicous. the picture with the fiiling is amazing!

~Amber~ said...

Beautful looking danish braid.

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice braid, nice story. Dough crusted breasts...wonder how many Google hits you'll get from that?

Joy said...

Thank you everybody. I love reading your comments. It's the best bit of the challenge, well, apart from getting to eat half a danish braid on a Sunday afternoon!

Katie B. said...

Yum, yum, yum! Your filling sounds divine - and your post made me laugh more than once! :)

Antonia said...

I love the combination of frangipane and pears and am very impressed with this pastry. Looks wonderful - I bet it smelt fabulous too when it came out of the oven!

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