Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm a Daring Baker!

I'm no longer a Daring Baker virgin!

I was hoping for my first challenge to be something easy to gradually ween myself into the Daring Bakers' club. Imagine my distress, when I saw those two words: Danish Braid. Laminated dough . . . . Surprisingly, it was much easier than I had anticipated, and I'll definitely be making Danish's more often in the future. A big thanks to Kelly and Ben; at first I thought you were crazy, but thanks to you, I've added a formidable new genre to my repertoire. And I suppose that's what the Daring Bakers is all about!

I found that the hardest part of this challenge was just finding the time to do everything, because it's such a long process. As the end of the month was fast approaching, I decided I had to get a move on and start the dough. I'll admit that I was a little concerned about including cardamom and orange zest in the dough, as I thought the flavours might overpower the delicate nature of the dough. But how wrong I was! The cardamom added a lovely, subtle spiciness and aroma (almost a savouriness to the sweet filling) that I would not have liked to have gone without. The process of making the dough was quite simple, just lengthy.

I decided to go with the apple filling, recommended by Kelly and Ben, and using Fuji apples was a revelation! They were soft and fully cooked, but remained as perfectly formed little cubes; I'll be using them more often from now on. I found the apple filling to be pretty sweet, but this was balanced out by the savouriness of the cardomom et al. in the dough. I also made a vanilla bean Creme Patisserie, sourced from Gordon Ramsay's brilliant book, Just Desserts. It provided a beautiful, rich, but neutral creaminess, to perfectly counteract the intense sweetness of the apples. All in all, a perfect combination.

First, I made the dough, as instructed. I followed in the (initially bizarre) footsteps of Beatrice Ojakangas, by using a tape measure to ensure a perfectly formed braid. Her use of a pizza cutter also proved instructive. Filled with the apple and Creme Patisserie, I began the process of braiding. My next concern was temperature control, as it's currently Winter in Australia. Knowing it wouldn't rise properly at the ambient temperature of around 20 deg C., I decided to enlist the help of our reverse cycle air conditioner, creating a perfect temperature that a proofing Danish Braid could only dream of!

Perfection!



After proofing, and a liberal lashing of egg wash, the braid went into the oven. And out came my little baby!




We ate this straight out of the oven, which in my mind is the best time to eat it. Once cooled, the pastry begins to deteriorate immediately. I certainly wouldn't want to eat it the next day (but that didn't stop S!).

I had a little dough leftover, and decided to try out some traditional Danish windmills, which were really cute!





17 comments:

Michelle said...

Welcome to DBers!!! And you did a fabulous job, in fact gorgeous!

said...

you did a really fantastic job on your first challenge! welcome to daring bakers!

B said...

Thanks for the encouragement guys!

giz said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers. Ooo la la... a fabulous entry to what always looks like it could be the death of us. It was a fun challenge.

Natalie... said...

Mmm creme patissiere..its got to be one of my fave fillings ever and with the apple i bet it was delish. Love your little windmills too they are so cute!
Welcome to the daring bakers :D

Candace said...

Wow! Fabulous first challenge!

Lorrie said...

you did an amazing job, your braid looks delicious and your pinwheel is so cute. nice job!

B said...

Wow! Thanks everyone for the comments! As you can see I've never had any before... :) I can't wait to find out what the next challenge is!

HoneyB said...

You did an AWESOME JOB! Congrats on your first challenge!

Susie Homemaker said...

your danish is amazing! it was my first challenge too - though my braid isn't as perfect as yours!
great job!
-Susan of http://doughmesstic.blogspot.com

breadchick said...

Well done on your first challenge! Welcome to Daring Bakers.

frank said...

ZOMG, that looks divine :)

Claire said...

Great job! We didn't even have any until the next day.

Jigginjessica said...

Your braid looks amazing. Great job.

mimi said...

welcome to DB! those are gorgeous pastries, i love the pinwheel. your crust is so golden brown!

Julie B said...

Beautiful! I too joined the daring bakers. My first recipe will be in August. Good job!! It is a bit intimidating as well but I am super excited!

Tartelette said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! With this success I can tell you fit right in! The braid and little danishes are fantastic!