Archive for June, 2008

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Danish Bread – June Daring Bakers Challenge

June 29, 2008

OK! Home from Texas and back on my trusty PC instead of a cranky laptop! So, better late than never, our Danish Breads!

berry cream slice nut slice

Beth and I were the only ones who could play this month and we each made two loaves. I made the first one. Followed all the directions. Rolled it out to the spec’s in the recipe, put in my filling (mixed berries and confectionery cream, delish!). And there I hit a snag… How does one move a pliable, gooey, enormous, berry and cream filled danish bread? Aha! I say. I should have rolled and assembled on parchment paper! But, alas, it was too late. The moving was quite comical. It took both of us. And the end result, well, it looked a bit like a danish bread murder scene…

Oh the humanity danish bread

Pools of juice everywhere. So sad. But damn it was good. Didn’t last 24 hours. Total yum!

Beth also made a berry cream bread, but learned from my mistakes. Not only did she roll hers on parchment paper, we also decided to go with a smaller roll. 10×16. Makes a much more manageable size.

No carnage involved with hers!

berries and cream take 2

Only a little berry ooze. But boy, that crunchy sugary ooze is damn good too.

Our 3rd and 4th loaves went off with out a hitch. Both are nut loaves. I went with a mixture of almonds, pecans and hazelnuts with some cinnamon and sugar, while Beth chose to use only pecans with some cinnamon and brown sugar.

The loaves were picture perfect.

Nut loaf 1nut loaf 2

I’m not sure which one is which in the pictures, but they were both quite tasty. The only thing I think I might do differently next time is to add a little butter and make it a streusel-y filling to hold the nuts together a bit. it was a bit loose so nuts tried to make a break for it. Also, I think this particular loaf would have benefited from some icing. The berry one was far to rich, but it would have added a hint of sweetness to the nut ones.

I think the smaller roll size was definitely better. If you compare the two slices, you can see how thin the bottom is on the berry one that was rolled bigger. I decided on this size because it is what I saw Beatice Ojakangas do here http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/meet/ojakangas.html#

This video is also where I got my berry and confectionery cream filling recipes.

Well, that’s our bread! Here’s the original recipe! Try it for yourself!

DANISH DOUGH

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
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 all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

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

DOUGH
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, 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. 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 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.

BUTTER BLOCK
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. 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.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
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. 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 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.

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TWD – Mixed Berry Cobbler

June 24, 2008

cobbler close up

This week are being led by Beth of Our Sweet Life and she has chosen Mixed Berry Cobbler on pages 416-417.

Now I *love* a mixed berry… well anything really. I’ve made pies, filled bread, jams. But, oddly, never a cobbler. I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten a cobbler. My family is pie people. And mostly of the pudding-ish variety. So I was very excited to try this week’s recipe!

First I made my dough, and boy, was it sticky! Stuck to the bowl. Stuck to the scraper. Stuck to the waxed paper. Sticky, sticky.

Next, I mixed together my berries. 2 pints of blueberries and one each of raspberries and blackberries. They looked so pretty all covered in sugar, I hated to cover them up.

sugared berries

But, of course, it wouldn’t be a cobbler with out a crust! (I guess it would just be… jam?) So, cover it, I did.

pre-baking cobbler

Boy! You want rustic, there you go! Seems the only thing this dough won’t stick to is sugar coated berries! I think i recovered the same blackberry 6 times.

My little darling is percolating in the oven right now! I’ll post pics of the finished product as soon as it comes out!

*UPDATE*

Well, the cobbler is out and is a lovely golden brown. And looks just so… comforting.

Baked cobbler

I couldn’t wait to dish out some for myself. Wanted it while it was still hot so it would make the ice cream all melty…

dished cobbler

Mmm… makes me want to lick the screen!

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TWD – Not so Peppermint Cream Puff Ring

June 18, 2008

This week’s recipe comes from Caroline of A Consuming Passion.  I’ve been wanting to try to make pate a choux since I saw it on Good Eats ages ago, now I have the chance.  I do not, however, enjoy peppermint.  No.  That’s an understatement… I loathe peppermint.  The smell, the taste, the feel.  All terrible.  I get nauseated when I eat it.  Maybe I’m allergic…

At any rate, I knew a Peppermint Ring was out, but, luckily, the mint was only in the filling and Dorie gave some alternatives.  Being a citrus lover I knew I would go with a Lemon Cream filling.  Now this filling could only come after three (in my opinion) failures at the dough.

Now, it came together fine.  I boiled it until it was a ball.  I mixed my eggs in one by one.  I squeezed it into a ring and (on the first attempt) into eclairs and rolls.  I baked them for a total of 45 minutes.  Each time they came out browned and firm and puffed up.

Eclairs

And everytime… after leaving them in the kitchen to cool… I came back to a deflated ring.  It looked a bit like a large donut that someone sat on.  So, I tried a second time.  Same result.  I looked up Alton Brown’s recipe on footnetwork.com.  He had a suggestion of puncturing the choux after it came out of the oven to let the steam escape and stop the dough from going soggy.

Eureka! I thought.  This the problem!  If I puncture the dough when I take it out, all will be well and my ring will be lovely.  So, into round three I went.  I did everything I was supposed to.  I turned the oven down after 15 minutes.  I even baked it an extra 5 minutes to be sure it was done.  As soon as it came out, I took a paring knife and punctured the ring in several places.  The crust was so nice and firm!  But, alas, when I returned from letting it cool…

Pate A Choux pancake

Voila! A Pate A Choux Pancake! That’s right, flat again.

I don’t know what the issue is but I’m thoroughly frustrated.  I never got to the lemon cream.  What’s the point of making it, if your pastry won’t be able to hold the weight?

I’ll give it a day or two, and maybe I’ll have another go.

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TWD – La Palette’s Strawberry Tart

June 18, 2008

Strawberry Tart

La Palette’s Strawberry Tart on page 374 was this week’s challenge.  And it was, simply, divine.  I think by it’s pure simplicity, it became extraordinary.  It starts with a sweet tart dough, then a layer of jam (I used raspberry) and then some cut up strawberries.  That’s it!  Simple, fast, delicious.  I served mine with a little Ready Whip and everyone was in heaven!

Strawberry Tart close up

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TWD – French Chocolate Brownies

June 18, 2008

French Chocolate Brownies

I have to say, I was not thrilled with these brownies.  For starters, I don’t like raisins.  I know, I know, I could have left them out, but, originally, I was planning to send these into work with the hubby.  I even left out the cinnamon (that I love) because his boss is allergic.  But I didn’t get them made until Friday, and after I tried one, I didn’t want to send them in.  The actual brownie wasn’t *terrible* but the raisins were disgusting and the overall texture was a little mealy.  I think I may not have cooked them long enough.

Try them for yourself and see what you think! You can find the recipe at Di’s Kitchen Notebook, who had the honor of picking this recipe!

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And We’re Back!

June 14, 2008

Ok!  Minor computer snafu put us out of commission for a bit, but we’re back and posting will get caught up over the weekend!