Daring Bakers do Danish!
You may recall that I had to skip the May Daring Baker’s challenge, but I was back in the saddle for this June round — and what a delightful one it was! Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? picked danish!! Which was a fun coincidence — right before I found out what the challenge was going to be, I said to B “you know, it would be fun to do a yeast bread for one of the DB challenges.” Not that the other ones haven’t been fun, but I was a little buttercreamed out, and was eager to try a different category of baked good. AND, the day before that, I had said to B “you know, I think I’m going to try making my own laminated dough this summer” — laminated dough being the kind you layer with butter, then fold over itself again and again to create layers of flaky, buttery pastries…puff pastry is one kind of laminated dough, as is dough for danishes, croissants, etc. So, all this is to say, I did a celebration dance when I read the challenge would be danish!
look at all those lovely, buttery layers
This challenge was also fun for me because “danish” is synonymous with memories of spending time at my grandparent’s house, just me alone as the oldest granddaughter, as a child. I used to visit them for a week at a time each summer, and among other fun activities (my grandma taught me how to fish, how to shuffle a deck of cards, how to play Spite and Malice — yes, she was a real firecracker!) at the end of the week, she used to take me out to breakfast at a diner nearby, where I would always, always order their apple danish. It’s such a strong memory for me; anytime I see danish now I always think of her and how special I used to feel spending time with her and my grandfather.
So, the challenge was to make the dough and to make at least one braid, and use the remaining dough for whatever other shapes we wished. Fillings were also completely up to us. Fun!
I made my braid and filled it with some homemade strawberry jam (so predictable, right? Pretty much everything else I’ve been making lately has had strawberries prominently featured!) The dough was a dream to work with — it rolled out easily, tasted delicious, and how can you argue with a result as pretty as this braid? I loved the flavoring of vanilla bean, orange zest and cardamom.
For my first attempt at small pastries, I tried pinwheels, filling them with vanilla pastry cream and strawberry jam. Let’s just say I was a bit too overzealous in my filling proportions, and to my aggravation, the pinwheels oozed their filling out all over the baking sheet (and popped open while baking – so they turned into Maltese crosses, or First Aid signs, rather than pinwheels.)
pretty pinwheels, but way too much filling
Well, no matter, I thought; I loved this recipe so much that I figured I’d just try again. This time, I spread some vanilla pastry cream down a strip of dough, topped it with the same homemade strawberry jam, and folded the top over the filling.
After I cut, filled and formed these individual danishes, I was somewhat horrified to realize that they look awfully similar to McDonald’s apple pies. Yikes. Not my intention. And, notice how much they puffed up! Next time I’ll roll the dough a bit thinner. But, oh well, they served the purpose of being an easy-to-eat shape; you can tuck one of these easily into your hand and munch on it single-handedly. I should know; I tested this out before sending the rest of the batch off to B’s coworkers!
This is recipe I’ll make over and over — the braid, particularly, is so pretty when it comes out of the oven, and was really quite easy to make. If you plan ahead a bit, it would make a delicious treat for a weekend brunch (which is, actually, exactly what I’m doing this weekend as my parents are visiting!)
Thanks to Kelly and Ben for choosing such a great challenge this month! Be sure to check out what the other Daring Bakers did over on the Daring Baker’s Blogroll!