Sunday, 29 June 2008

Danish Plait

Daring Baker Challenge for June 2008

This month's recipe was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? and this is how they started our instructions.

Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough
Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

Now you might expect as a gluten free baker I'd be worried about this as yeast doughs are hardly the easiest for us to get right but in fact i did a happy dance.. why? Well for months now i have been planning to try puff pastry and things kept getting in the way and this is basically made the same way.. that's the laminated bit. Basically you make a dough, cover it with butter and then repeatedly fold it on itself. The butter keeps the layers separate giving that flaked effect. According to our hosts, one of whom is a expert puff pastry maker this type of laminated dough is less complicated and a good starting point so all i need to do now is find a flour mix that works !

The recipe we were given makes quite a bit of dough enough for two very large plaits and our instructions were we must make a plait with half the dough and the filling must either be the apple one they suggested or something else made from scratch, as the dough is sweet most filling were sweet too but a few Daring Bakers made savory ones. Many of the fillings used cream cheese which it seems a lot of the group considered normal, I think most of them were American but over here I've never come across one with cream cheese, custard yes but not cheese.

I must admit here I didn't use a full half batch to do a plait mostly because it would be too big for any of my trays also I froze half of it and the first time round I did a rhubarb and strawberry filling. I expected my four year old to turn his nose up at that so used 2/3 for that and 1/3 with and apple and sultana filling. However when he saw them he insisted on having the rhubarb one and had two pieces which just goes to show four year old change what they like with the wind. The second batch made from the frozen dough is proving as we speak and I have made half into a cream cheese and strawberry plait and some chocolate roll things. (Edit - Now cooked and wonderful but I dropped my camera in a canal this morning!! Lucky it's case floats, unluckily enough water got in it is not working right.. currently hoping it will sort itself once it is fully dry)

You can find the original recipe on our hosts blogs Kelly and Ben should you wish a gluten version. For my version I finally got round to moving out of my comfort zone using Dove Farm premixed flour and based on all I've read on other blogs I swapped the flours out for a mix of Quinoa, rice and tapioca flours with xanth and pectin. I could noticably taste the Quinoa in the raw dough but the final result tasted great and normal if you understand that.. I also found the dough was extremely well behaved while rolling out better than any other gluten free dough I've made and in fact from what some others have said better than the gluten version behaved for some of the Daring Bakers so I am quite chuffed about that.

So it all went really well right? Well nearly I did find out one thing though do not get distracted by a phone call to a good friend and let them prove for well over the two hours. My dough got so frothy it sort of slid off the filling and the layers merged. However it tasted and smelt SOO good.

so on to the recipe.


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

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 flour ( 1.25 cups quinoa flour, 1cup mixed brown&white rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch)
1 tsp xanth gum
1 tsp pectin
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup quinoa flour

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 and gums, 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,( be careful though mine was still somewhat sticky but firmed up wonderfully in the fridge so err on the side of too sticky to start with). 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, gums 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.

1. 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.
2. 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.
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 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.
4. 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 (this is probably not needed as it is mainly to develop the gluten but I did as I'd run out of time and resumed cooking in the morning). 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 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.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. 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. 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 the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and 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 center of the oven.
3. 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 350 degrees F, 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. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.


  1. sliding dough or not, that danish looks great!

  2. Ooh, looks tasty, regardless of proofing. The apple filling was my favorite as well, although I also did a plum filling with rosemary sugar sprinkle. You may have used a similar flour blend to me- I liked it a lot!

    My GF danish is here:

  3. I'm glad that it tasted well, despite over-proofing!

    As to the cream cheese thing: it probably is American, but that's because cream cheese is really quite common over there. It doesn't taste of cheese, you know, but is just ... well, smooth, creamy, and could easily take the place of custard. Add a wee bit of vanilla & bake it and most people wouldn't know the difference.

  4. I think your Danish looks pretty nice, maybe it just made itself a little comfortable.:)
    And it tasted great, so that's fine. You can never tell with kids, but they can be very good critics. Give it to you straight!!

  5. Alternative Daring Bakers Rule! Especially you gluten-free kids on this one- bravo for a job well done, despite a few kinks!

  6. Great job making this one gluten free.

  7. Great job, your pics look delicious. Thank you for baking with us :)