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!
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.