Tuesday, October 15, 2013

TWD: Baking with Julia - Danish Braid

This week's recipe for Tuesday's with Dorie is Danish Braid.  I have been spending a lot of time learning about different braids lately.  I have watched all sorts of tutorials online on the French Braid, the Dutch Braid, a Rope Braid, a Waterfall Braid.... Braids, braids, braids!  Of course, those are braids for HAIR, not pastry, but braids nonetheless.  I am still on a quest for a great hairdo for when the clever girl is a flower girl in an upcoming wedding, thus I have been doing all sorts of research.  Have you ever noticed how you can watch a tutorial/video about something online and think, "oh, okay, that's not so hard" and then when you actually sit down to DO said thing it is an entirely different story?  Yeah.  That's what has been happening here.  I keep thinking, "wait, how did they do that again?" and then I have to find the tutorial again and try to memorize it all over again.  Ugh.  Thankfully, this pastry was much easier than the hairdos I have been attempting!

The big thing with this recipe is that it is actually several recipes.  Each individual recipe is quite simple, you just have to make them all first before you can do anything that resembles this Danish Braid.  You start with the Danish Pastry.  It is quite straightforward and wonderful in that you can make it several days in advance and then work with it whenever you get the time!  The recipe actually says to cut the butter into the flour using a food processor but I did it with my trusty pastry cutter instead.  The point is to keep the butter chunks pretty big so I figured a pastry cutter would be fine.  It allowed me to wash the food processor maybe one less time.

Then, decision time... what do you want in your pastry?  You need a creamy filling and a fruity filling.  There are several ideas provided, of which I chose the almond filling and apricot filling.  You could totally do whatever here and not use the recipes at all, however I love almond anything and almonds + apricots = goodness in my book so I went with those two recipes.  Plus it meant that I didn't have to think about anything more - I could just follow a recipe and move on.  Sometimes, the less thinking I have to do, the better...  Ever have days like that? 

Both of these recipes are made in the food processor, hence, I washed that thing a lot!  And both turned out quite tasty as well.  My only potential change would be sugar.  I found them both to be too sweet for me, though I tend to like things less sweet than others, I find.  In my humble opinion, in both fillings the sweetness overpowered the actual flavor of the filling.  You tasted SWEET before you tasted almond and apricot.  So I would reduce the sugar next time.

Now that everything is made, you can create the braid!  Roll out the dough and put the fruity filling in the middle third, all the way down the center.  Spread the creamy filling over the top of the fruity one, all the way down.  Now you can prep for the braid!  Like any braid, you need sections to braid together.  So you cut diagonal slits down the remaining two sides of dough and then start crossing one over the other.  Left, right, left, right, all the way down the dough.  Give it an egg wash and sprinkle it with pearl sugar (or big white sprinkles, in my case) and set it aside to rise a bit.

The recipe is enough for two braids, so while one rose, I did the second.  If I had been thinking (again, not something I seem to do much of these days....  Did I mention I made this pastry the morning after a dinner party in which we all enjoyed some delicious wine and I stayed up way too late?  Yeah.  That is my excuse, this time anyway...) yes, had I been thinking, I would have rolled out the dough on top of these squishy ice sheets that I have.  Boy, that was a terrible explanation.  Okay, you know how you can sometimes get a wine bag (here we go with wine again!) that has little squares in it that are filled with some sort of gel and you can throw that bad boy in the freezer so when you put the wine in the bag it will stay cool?  Well, you can buy those things in just a sheet, and they are great for putting under a metal edgeless cookie sheet and then rolling out dough on top.  It keeps the dough cooler.  Get it?  Some day I'll actually DO it and take a photo for you. 

Anyway, once they rose for about 30 minutes, into the oven they went.  The recipe stated they should be in for 15-20 minutes, but mine were done in about 12.  Any longer and they would have moved from "golden" to "browned" for sure!

Then you put a glaze over the top, which I wish I did not do.  The glaze is supposed to be coffee and powdered sugar, but I used cream and powdered sugar.  Regardless, (A) the braid does NOT need any more sweet, and (B) when you drizzle the glaze over the top, you lose the beauty of the braid.  So, next time, no glaze for me.  It is totally up to you but in my opinion, it is completely unnecessary and sort of ruins the overall look of the braid.  In fact, if you have the Baking with Julia book, the picture they use in the book is of an UN-glazed braid! Ah-ha.  Again, had I been really thinking at the time.... Drat.

However, after all of that, it was quite good.  It really was not hard to do and it would be fun to try different fillings - maybe a berry one, or a fig one, maybe cream cheese instead of almond.  It will be interesting to see what my fellow Doristas have done with their braids - what sorts of fun fillings they created!

You can find the recipe for the Danish Braid in Baking with Julia, page 205.  The pastry recipe is on pages 50-51, and the fillings are on pages 202-204.  Or, I found the recipes for the dough and the various fillings here.   Check out what other TWD bloggers have created by following the links here

Enjoy a fancy looking Danish for breakfast one day!  It is worth the work!


  1. Wasn't this good?! I agree with you about the glaze...I actually balked at the idea of putting coffee in the glaze and then the danish was pretty sweet on it's own. I did make a pumpkin variation that was not as sweet as my first braid, so I made a maple glaze to pair with that and it was still fairly well balanced. Your braid looks beautiful!

  2. Oooh, I'd love a bite of your apricot version! And your drizzle is so pretty!

  3. I skipped the glaze as a whole. I guess, it is more for the look then for the taste :-)

  4. Great looking pastry! I had wondered if the fillings would be too sweet (thanks for sharing that). I decided to go with a cream cheese filling and an apricot spread, as I thought the cream cheese would offset any sweetness. I do love this recipe. Such an easy dough to make such a beautiful pastry!

  5. Apricots and almonds sounds good to me! It looks great
    I would rather braid a loaf of bread than hair (says the mother of two girls - one of whom always has a new braid idea that she wants me to try...)

  6. I did without the glazes too. It looked pretty with just the almonds and sugar. I like your combinations. Great job!

  7. So true about washing the food processor :) At one point I was even wondering if I could take a washing shortcut...I am with you on the sugar for the fruit filling. I ended up making the prune lekvar instead and using less amount of sugar. Go almonds!

  8. I'm waiting for my strawberry cream cheese version to rise at the moment! Can't wait for the first bite. :) Yours looks beautiful!

  9. Great looking braid! I agree that it is a bit on the sweet side, though.

  10. I felt the same way about the glaze! And I am so intrigued about the ice sheets you have? I'd love to see those.

  11. I skipped the icing, though I think it looks pretty. I have an ice pack (from the chiropractor - for the back) that I place under my marble board. Works like a charm! This was a fairly easy and fun recipe.


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