Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

by Lauren | Celiac Teen on June 29, 2008

So… I joined the Daring Bakers for this past month. Now let me tell you that if you dare join this group, and are gluten free, have fun. I had fun, but was a little bit stressed, especially when I missed some liquid and forgot a few things. I think that like Natalie, I was inspired, and ready for a challenge. I needed something to force me to try out flours and really get me to enjoy gluten free experimenting. I know, I’m crazy, but you know… Anyways, this month’s challenge was the Danish Braid. I know, just my luck that my first challenge is one heavily dependent on gluten. Well I pushed through it. I knew that even if I messed up, at least I would learn something (and you’d get a laugh). With that said, I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be?? Anyways, on with the post…

This challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?. As you know, they chose a Danish Braid as their challenge to the rest of us Daring Bakers.

Boy oh boy. Here goes. I must tell you that normally, I’m not this forgetful, but I really was in a rush, mostly because I wanted to get to bed at a pretty good time. (I’ve had issues with overtiredness leading to me being out for a week at a time) Anyways, I wanted to get to bed at a good time, I was late getting started, I wasn’t sure whether or not to proof the yeast, and in my rush, I forgot some liquid, and (all my math went out the window) I halved the recipe, then didn’t realize that that would mean that I would have to chill it for less time. Also, instead of an apple filling, I used the same recipe, and just switched the apples for cherries. It turned out like candy, not a filling at all. Oops. On top of that, my braid didn’t rise and I think that’s all. All I can say is Oops. Next time will be better. If there is a next time. To make this (even if you do it correctly), you need a lot of time. Got a day in summer? Fine. An empty weekend? Fine. (That’s what I did, and in the process, I had an excuse to lay off the studying for awhile). Anyways, here is the recipe, modified to work gluten free.

Danish Braid
Detrempe (the dough)

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 Bette Hagman’s Mix (6 parts rice flour, 2 parts potato flour, 1 part tapioca flour)

1 teaspoon (or so) Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon salt

Beurrage (butter block)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup sweet rice flour

Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Detrempe (the dough)

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. 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.

Beurrage (butter block)

1. Combine butter and flour in a bowl. With your hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the mixer’s attachment and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled for 30 minutes, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 by 13 inches and 1/4 inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the centre 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 centre third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking with your finger to keep track of your turns. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
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 by 18 inch, 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Again fold the left third of the rectangle over the centre third and the right third over the centre 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 2 more times, for a total of 4 single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out it about 1 inch thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost dough slowly in the refrigerator for the easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

To make one Danish braid, you use half (1/2) of the recipe above, and 2 cups of filling of your choice.

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 by 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.

Egg Wash

Whisk together a whole egg and a yolk in a bowl. 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 centre of the oven.
3. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back is in the front. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15 to 20 minutes more, 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 fridge for up to 2 days, or freezer for 1 month.
. . . . .
Whew. All done. That took a long time to type (and read) and make. So I’m guessing you want pictures now. Me too. Here is my not so lovely looking Danish Braid. With a faulty filling. And missing some liquid. Anyways, here it is. Enjoy.

Never did I say that the Braid looked any good. Nope.



PS – To see the rest of the Daring Baker’s Braids, visit the Blogroll, or click on the Daring Bakers logo at the top.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Cakelaw April 14, 2010 at 9:31 am

I think your braid turned out perfect. The fact that you had the gluten free challenge earns you extra points.

Michelle April 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

Fabulous braid and you did a great job.

Welcome to DBers!

Barbara April 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

The fact that you tried this challenge and made it gluten free as wells it a well done braid! I’m sure the taste was great.

madcapcupcake April 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

Ah, my comment just got eaten by the computer…forgive me if you get two redundant comments :) I was saying….I have huge respect for the GF-BRers, and you deserve huge kudos for tackling this challenge!! Well done :)

Robyn April 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

It wouldn’t be the Daring Bakers if it wasn’t meant to be a challenge. Great job and hopefully next month’s will go better for you.

Lauren April 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

Cakelaw – You’re so sweet. Thanks.

Michelle – Thanks. I’m glad to be a part of this.

Barbara – Thanks. It didn’t taste all that bad. We ate the whole thing so it couldn’t have been too bad. =D

Madcapcupcake – I hate it when the computer messes up like that. Nope, you only left one comment! Thank you so much for the support. I cannot imagine doing this vegan, good job to you too!

Robyn – Yes. This was a challenge, and I cannot wait for the next one. Thanks.

Tiffany April 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

You know what though? It is flakey looking, which is the whole point. I would say you still did a great job! Things dont always have to be so pretty, as long as they taste good! Pair that candy cherry stuff up with some whipped cream (no more sugar!) and it will help ligthen it up :)

Lauren April 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

Tiffany – Thanks. You have the best suggestions. I will definitely try that the next time I make this!!

shellyfish April 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

I’m so sorry about your snags, but just go look at my opera cake post, and you’ll feel better! :) The great thing about being a Daring Baker (and a super-cool one because you’re Alternative!) is that in a few days you’ll be able to make the next challenge and that one will rock!

rainbowbrown April 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

Heck, that braid looks incredible, especially considering there’s no gluten in it. It looks like it’s got a crispy crust which sounds really good.

Ben April 14, 2010 at 9:36 am

First of all, welcome to the DB’s, you are right, we always have tons of fun here :-p

I think your braid looks just fine and I am sure next time (there gotta be a next time!) it will look even better. Again welcome to the group and thank you for baking with us :)

seamaiden April 14, 2010 at 9:36 am

Nice job! This is tough stuff and a particularly difficult challenge for us Gluten-Free bakers. Well done- looks tasty. Hope you enjoyed!


Susan/Wild Yeast April 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

Welcome to the Daring Bakers Lauren! This was a very challenging challenge even for those of us who are not gluten-free, so you definitely rocked it!

Lauren April 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

Shellyfish – Ahh, thanks. Your opera cake doesn’t look as bad as you make it out to be. And, being alternative, is awesome!! =D

Rainbowbrown – Thanks! The crust was indeed very crispy. Yummy…

Ben – Thank you so much. There will be a next time. And I will do amazing. =D

Susan – Thanks. I’m glad that us alternative bakers aren’t the only ones that had some issues. =D

Harmony – Yup the cherry candy was interesting, it was just too tough and little for the filling. Thanks for your encouragement!!

Sea – Yay! Another GF DB. Yes, it was tasty. Thanks. =D

HoneyB April 14, 2010 at 9:38 am

Great job and welcome to the Daring Bakers! I think it is more of a challenge when you bake gluten free!

gfgastronaut April 14, 2010 at 9:38 am

Lauren – welcome to the DB-ers… I hate it when I leave out ingredients or mess up conversions. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone, just keep at it. Your braid still looks like a braid, and I would eat it :-)

breadchick April 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

Considering the changes you have to make to make it gluten free I say it is lovely! Welcome to DB

silverrock April 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

Way to go on your first DB challenge! I admire you for pressing on even though gluten was a big part of this challenge. The braid looks great, I would definitely eat it :)

onespicymama April 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

Baking gluten-free is an accomplishment in it of itself! Great job!

Claire April 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

I’m just impressed that you made this bread gluten free! Great job!

Lauren April 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

GFGastronaut – Thanks! Yes, it’s no fun when you forget things, but I’m glad that you’d eat it!!

HoneyB – Thank you!

Breadchick – Thanks!

Silverrock – Yay! Thanks, that’s sweet!

Onespicymama – Thanks! Gluten Free baking is sure an adventure!

Claire – Thank you!

Lunch Baskets – Thanks, I’m glad to be a part of it!

Jen Yu April 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

You get an A for effort and I think the braid looks fine. I personally wouldn’t even know where to start if I wanted to make something gluten free, so you get extra bonus points, love. Great job!!!

Sheltie Girl April 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

You did a wonderful job on your braid. This was a tough challenge to make gf and I think you pulled it off in spades. I can’t wait to see what you do with next month’s challenge.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Lis April 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

Holy cow you totally rocked this challenge, Lauren!! I am so darned proud of you! And wow! What a first challenge it was, eh? :)

If you can pull off a gluten free danish.. I have the utmost confidence that you’ll continue to amaze us with your challenges!

Can’t wait to see what you do with the next challenge!


Jenny April 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

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