Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers—Danish Braid

Coffee and Danish
This month, the Daring Bakers were asked to make a Danish braid the original Danish way, making layers of flaky, buttery pastry. It’s a laminated dough, similar to puff pastry, but with sugar and fewer turns. Tough. Daring. I’ve only made laminated dough once before, so I called in an expert, a friend’s mom who has made puff pastry many times and hundreds of breads.

To me, a Danish from the local bakery or grocery store is usually a stale, pastry with some blah fruit on top and a sticky drizzle of icing. But, freshly-made-from-your-own-oven Danish pastry is a whole other delight and worth the hours of rolling and waiting.

Kneading Dough & Braided Danish PastryKaffee and Wienerbrød
A Danish in Denmark is not a Danish. This pastry is known as Wienerbrød in Danish, meaning Vienna bread. In Northern European countries and France, this pastry is referred to as “Viennese”. In Austria and Germany, this pastry is referred to as “Kopenhagener Gebäck”.

Thanks to a bakers' strike by the Danes in the late 19th century, bakers from Vienna were brought in as replacements and with them came Wienerbrød.

You can use the Danish pastry to make bear's claws, crescents, envelopes, palm leaves, pinwheels, pretzel shapes (called kringles), and snails. Our task was to make a braid. We could use any filling choice we wanted as long as it was homemade.

A filling for Danish pastry can be anything: from pastry cream with jam, to cream cheese and fruit, to something savory.

I chose to make cinnamon pastry cream with a strawberry-raspberry-rhubarb-orange-lavender filling. I also filled one with homemade blueberry jam. And in another, we used ground almonds, raisins, and icing sugar.

50-year-old Recipe for Danish Pastry

Danish Pastry Recipe - handwritten 50 years agoWhen I called my friend’s mom for her expertise and help with this recipe, she asked if we could also make a recipe for Danish Pastry that her friend from cooking school gave her 50 years ago that she's been meaning to make all these years. It didn’t require all the rigorous rolling, resting and chilling that the Daring Bakers’ version had, and it was interesting to compare the two danishes.

Danish Pastry with almonds
Click to see a larger picture

Danish Pastry (50 year old handwritten recipe)

8 ounces plain flour
¾ ounce yeast (fresh)
¾ ounce lard
1 standard egg
¾ ounce castor sugar
4 ounces Echo margarine

2 ounces ground almonds
4 ounces castor sugar
1 small egg white
2 ounces sultanas
1 ounce chopped nuts
2 ounces icing sugar

Method - Dough
1. Place flour, salt and sugar in mound on table. Make well in middle.
2. Pour in centre fat (just melted) not hot and egg
3. Mix yeast with little warm water and pour in centre (not too runny)
4. Fold together with hands and add enough milk to make soft dough
5. Knead until silky
6. Leave to rest 10-15 minutes
7. Make filling: mix almond, sugar and egg white to soft spread
8. Roll out dough to large rectangle
9. Spread 2/3 with margarine, fold over uncovered portion to centre;
turn and roll twice (use plenty of flour)
10. Roll out to very thin to large square (do it slowly so margarine does
not come through)
11. Spread with almond mixture and sultanas
12. Roll up and cut through centre. Plait from centre out and make
into ring. Brush with egg yolk and cover with chopped walnuts or
almonds. Put on well greased baking tin
13. Prove for 15 minutes on plate rack on oven
14. Bake in over 375 degrees for 25 minutes
15. Brush with water ice while still hot.

I loved the filling in this 50-year-old recipe. We added a hint of almond extract as well, and the flavor was delicious. The pastry was crisper and not as bread-like as the Daring Baker one. It was more similar to the ones I’ve bought at the store, but better because it was fresh from the oven. And, it was so much easier to whip up. In the time it took to rest the dough between folds, we had this recipe ready for the oven!

I like the quote in the hand-written recipe:
“Guaranteed to put on inches!”
Videos and Links
Here is a video of Julia Child and Beatrice Ojakangas making Danish Bread and a useful video about how to braid the dough. As usual, Joe Pastry provides lots of good information about laminated dough.

Recipe for Danish Dough

from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard

To see the different Danish Braids cropping up all over the foodblogosphere, check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll or click HERE. Thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? who hosted this month’s Daring Bakers event.

Danish Braid IngredientsMake the détrempe: Mix yeast and milk on low speed. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the flour and salt. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Make the beurrage: Combine butter and flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Set aside.

After the détrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick rectangle. Dust the dough with flour if it is sticky. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the détrempe 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. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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 18 x 13 inches and 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. Mark the dough by poking it twice with your finger to keep track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

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. You can keep Danish dough in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Filling: Cinnamon Pastry Cream and Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Orange Lavender Preserve

For the Cinnamon Pastry Cream

Pastry Cream IngredientsFrom Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pats, at room temperature

Bring the milk and the cinnamon sticks to a boil in a small pot. Turn off the heat and allow the milk and vanilla to infuse for at least 10 minutes, or up to an hour.

In another saucepan, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly. If the milk is hot go slowly as it may curdle the eggs.

Once the milk and egg mixture are combine, remove the cinnamon sticks and set the pan over medium heat. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to whisk for a further minute or two. The mixture should be thick and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Whisk in the butter slowly. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Orange Lavender Preserves

Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Orange Lavender Preserves2 cups strawberries, hulled
1 cup raspberries
2 stalk rhubarb, chopped
1 whole orange, whizzed in the food processor
Sprinkle of lavender
3 cups sugar

Cook this mixture for 1 hour. The natural pectin in the orange will give you the jell you need.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups filling, jam, or preserves
1 large egg, for egg wash

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.

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.

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.

Whisk the whole egg lightly coat the braid with a pastry brush.

Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90˚F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400˚F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

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˚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

I learned some things while doing this recipe:
• Use even pressure when rolling. It’s hard work and requires patience.
• Pull and stretch the dough to keep it a rectangle. Keep it neat and even.
• After you fold the dough, pull and stretch it to make it a neat rectangle.
• When you’re ready to put the filling on the dough, move it to a piece of parchment paper first. It’s very difficult to move once it’s been filled and braided!

Danish BraidTasting Notes
I loved the smell of the cardamom, vanilla and orange in the Danish dough. In the finished braid, you could see the layers of pastry and the bread-like texture was delicious!

I also liked how quickly the 50-year-old recipe came together. I will definitely be pulling that recipe out again. The filling is a keeper too and so simple.

A shout of thanks to Mrs. C. for helping me with this Daring Baker challenge! I learned a lot!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Sauce Béarnaise (Warm emulsified sauce derived from Hollandaise sauce) with Steak

::Whisk Wednesdays::
Welcome to Whisk Wednesdays!
I now have a few more buddies who will join me as I cook my way through a cooking school curriculum. Find out more HERE. You should join us!

Béarnaise sauce

Now that we've completed the mother sauces, we're into the derivative ones and Béarnaise is one of the best. It's based on hollandaise but has an added flavor boost from a reduction of wine, shallots, wine vinegar, tarragon, and black peppercorns. Again, it’s an emulsification of eggs and butter, but with extra flavor from the herb and vinegar reduction. Traditionally, it’s served on beef, but it would be delicious on anything!

There are variations to the traditional recipe. Sometimes chervil, thyme, parsley, or bay is used as well as tarragon. Some use red wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar. Some recipes call for clarified butter and some for regular, room temperature butter. Some call for a blender while the more traditional recipes use just a whisk.

The last time I made Béarnaise was for the millennium celebrations in 1999. I remember using a blender and serving this sauce over tenderloin with shrimp and scallops on top as a garnish (à la The Keg). Pretty ritzy, eh? I haven’t made it since, but now it may be on our regular menu!

According to History of Sauces by Linda Stradley (What’s Cooking America), the sauce was created by Chef Jules Colette at his restaurant Le Pavillon Henri IV and served in the 1830s, but the sauce was named after Henri IV who was a gourmand born in Béarn, France and was King of France from 1589 to 1610.

"Don't be saucy with me Béarnaise..."
I had trouble when I made Béarnaise the first time. I added the clarified butter too fast, and it threw a tantrum and broke. I quickly consulted the cookbook, which told me to throw an ice cube into the mix to cool it off. This didn’t work. The next thing the cookbook suggested was to take a new pot, add a bit of cold water, and then add a ladle full of the sauce and whisk. Once that was smooth, add a bit more broken sauce to the fresh pot. Slowly, and ever patiently I whisked. And it worked! Thankfully, my eggs didn’t curdle so I was good to go. By this time, the T-bone steaks were ready, everyone was hungry, and I took a few casual photos and dug in. Later, looking at the photos, I realized I should have spent more time on the photo shoot!

A second Béarnaise sauce for lunch later in the week, no sauce tantrums (was I more patient or was it the room temperature butter?), more time with the photo shoot, and this time sauce spread leisurely over fried chicken, and again it was delicious!

I had some leftover Béarnaise sauce and attempted to re-heat it for supper. I put the burner on low, poured my leftover sauce into a clean pot, added 1 tablespoon of very hot water, and whisked like mad. Without stopping, I continued whisking, dipping my finger in for a heat-and-taste test, until the sauce was warm enough to drape over my leftover chicken. It worked, and it was delicious!

"A Béarnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot,
a little tarragon vinegar, and butter,
but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect."
–Fernand Point–
Who is Fernand Point?

"I believe Fernand Point is one of the last true gourmands
of the 20th century. His ruminations are extraordinary and thought-provoking. He has been an inspiration for legions of chefs.”
–Thomas Keller–
{On a side note, earlier this week I even made Eggs Benedict for one! It’s extremely dangerous to know how to whip this up on short notice given the amount of butter and the fact that it’s swimsuit season in these parts!}

Choking on Artichokes
On the artichoke front, I choked. This was the first time I’ve cooked artichokes! And I failed. First off, I had to get some tweezers to dig out the sliver of a prickle from one of the buggers. Then, I carefully de-leaved them until I thought I’d gotten to the light green center. After rubbing them lovingly with lemon, I plopped them into boiling water to cook. 30 minutes later, I took them out. I tried to dig out the middle to put the lovely un-broken Béarnaise sauce in, destroying 2 of the 3 chokes in the process. Then, when I finally sat down to eat, I daintily put one in my mouth and couldn’t chew it! Since artichokes are in the recipe for next week, I may try it again, but I need help.

Watch a Pro
Here’s a video showing how to make Béarnaise sauce. This video shows the solids from the reduction being strained and then thrown out, but the version in Le Cordon Bleu at Home keeps these in the sauce, which adds a nice texture to the sauce.

One of a Hundred Ways to Make Béarnaise
Béarnaise sauce
What is Béarnaise Sauce?

Béarnaise sauce mise en placeYou can find the recipe for Béarnaise sauce in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. You can also find a recipe for Salmon with Béarnaise sauce here. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesday group fared with this week's recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Béarnaise and steakTasting Notes
The hint of tarragon with its licorice taste, the sharpness of the shallots, and the creaminess of the eggs and butter make Béarnaise sauce the most amazing and delicious sauce yet! I was glad the sauce broke so that I could figure out how to fix it, and I was relieved that it worked. This is definitely a keeper and one I might even try serving for dinner guests, if I’m brave.

Next Week (July 2)
• Sauce Mayonnaise (Basic emulsified sauce) page 30-31
• Salade Messidor (Summer Harvest Salad)

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $446.39 + $5.15 (Béarnaise) + $4.35 (Artichokes) = $455.89

Butter used so far: 6 pounds, 5 tablespoons

. . . . . . . . . .

Next Week (July 2)
• Sauce Mayonnaise (Basic emulsified sauce) page 30-31
• Salade Messidor (Summer Harvest Salad)

Whisk Wednesdays:
If you would like to check out the other Whisk Wednesdays bloggers to see their take on Béarnaise sauce, click Kayte, Shelley, Sara, and Becke. We are up to 5 of us now...why don't you join us? We'd love to have you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Mixed Berry Cobbler

Cobblers, crumbles, grunts, slumps, brown betties. All have fruit. All have a pastry, streusel, or cake-like portion. All are easy and all are delicious. Dorie's cobbler doesn’t disappoint either. You can find a pretty good description of each of these types of desserts here.

According to Dorie, “a cobbler is about the most flexible dessert you can think of. In fact, it may even have gotten its name because of its flexibility: you can cobble it together with just about anything you've got around.”

I cut some rhubarb from the garden and bought some local strawberries. The topping was simple and only required a squeeze and press to form on top of the individual cobblers I made.

Mixed Berry Cobbler ingredientsYou can find the recipe for Mixed Berry Cobbler in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or at NPR where Dorie talks with Michele Norris about this great summertime dessert. Dorie also provides a blueberry-peach cobbler recipe at Serious Eats. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger! Thanks to Beth of Our Sweet Life who chose the recipe for this week.

Tasting Notes
This was such a simple and easy dessert. As the recipe says, go light on the strawberries since they reduce a lot during baking. I should have read the recipe more carefully, but it was still delicious!

Recipe for Next Week (July 1)
Apple Cheddar Scones on page 32 chosen by Karina of The Floured Apron.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wordle Nonsense

Saw this on LifeHacker and had to give it a try! I copied the list of Recipes from my blog and pasted it into this cool applet called Wordle. According to Wordle, the size of a word in the visualization is proportional to the number of times the word appears in the input text, so I guess I've done a lot of Tuesdays with Dorie! Here's mine in the Gallery at Wordle.

Sugar High Friday (SHF) #44 Taste Canada: Sugar Pie in Jars

Sugar Pie in a JarEarlier this year, I was hunting for a “Tarte au Sucre” recipe that is part of the cooking school curriculum I'm working through as a self-directed study. At first I thought all I had to do was pull out the sugar pie recipe that’s common at Christmas time with French Canadians. I was disappointed to find out that the Tarte au Sucre I was being asked to make was a yeasted cake, like brioche with a sugar topping. Not even close to the French Canadian version!

When Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, who launched the popular Sugar High Friday blogging event, announced that she was hosting this month and that the theme was Canadian sweets, I knew I had to participate. I also knew I had a chance to make Sugar Pie, the Canadian version (my take on it!). I took some liberties with the traditional recipe. Mine has Dulce de Leche, as if it weren't sweet enough already! I also had to throw in a touch of maple syrup, since it's made just 45 minutes from my home!

This pie is more often than not served as a tart, but I added a little whiff of pastry on top to keep its pie delineation. The addition of flour is debated, and I’m sure my flavoring additions will be hotly debated by traditionalists, but I have taste testers who will back me up saying it was delicious! However, they are not French Canadian and it was their first taste of sugar pie. Here’s a great article for some more information about sugar pie.

Earlier this month, I’d read about pie in jars. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to use this brilliant idea. Megan from Not Martha got the idea from Amy at Angry Chicken who got the idea from Mariko at Super Eggplant who saw it on Etsy and things went viral from there. LloydandLauren also made frozen mudslide pies in jars. I love it!

Recipe for Sugar Pie

Sugar Pie ingredients

Makes 6 little jars or 1 8-inch pie

Pastry recipe is from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1½ cups flour
½ cup icing sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 egg yolk
Drops of water

1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup (160 mL) evaporated skim milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon Dulce de Leche
½ teaspoon maple syrup

For the pastry: Put all the ingredients on the counter. Blend with your fingers. Add drops of water until it comes together into a ball. Press a small ball into each jar. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. (Save some pastry dough for the top.)

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Pre-bake the shells until they’re golden, about 8-10 minutes. Cool.

For the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, flour, evaporated skim milk, and heavy cream. Whisk constantly until thick. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg. Dulce de Leche, and maple syrup. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Pour the filling into the pre-baked shells. Top with a bit of pastry cut into a shape. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with ginger-flavored whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sugar Pie in a JarTasting Notes
This is a rich, sweet dessert. Some like it with vanilla ice cream and some with whipped cream and some unadorned. It’s delicious in small doses, and especially fun to eat with a spoon from a jar!

If you would like to join me as I cook my way through a cooking school curriculum, send me an email with "Whisk Wednesdays" in the subject line. I'd love to have your help, feedback, and input! Click HERE for more info!

Sugar Pie baked in jar

Here is my recipe for Sugar Pie, the Canadian version ...

See Sugar Pie baked in jar on Key Ingredient.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brownie Pops

Brownie PopsFor Mother’s Day a couple years ago, my daughter’s teacher collected favorite recipes from each student and compiled them into a booklet. It was and is a treasured gift for a foodie like me. One of the best recipes in this handmade book was one called “Best Brownies”.

I’ve made these brownies over and over, and they have the qualities I love in a brownie: cakey, chocolate-y, never-fail, and everyone likes them. Well, one daughter likes them with icing and the other without. They can’t even agree on brownies! :)

For a Barn Dance and BBQ that we went to on the weekend, I decided to make brownie pops and stick them into a half a watermelon for the dessert table. They garnered lots of oohs and aahs, and even the local flies liked them. Here I thought I was getting a nice picture of the brownie pops in the watermelon only to have a fly figure I needed some help with the food styling!


Makes 1 8x8 pan or 2 dozen pops or minisIngredients for Brownies½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350˚F. Grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, and beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to egg mixture, beating until blended. Stir in nuts, if desired.

Fill a piping bag (or freezer bag), and fill the mini muffin cups. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Brownie Frosting
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

Whisk all ingredients to spreading consistency.

Brownie Pops
Tasting Notes
This is my favorite brownie recipe! Enjoy!

For another brownie idea, check out my French Chocolate Brownies for Tuesdays with Dorie.

Also, I just got an email from a friend who made these for her 8-year-old son who was quoted as saying these brownies were "super duper extravaganza spectacular delicious."

Links to this Post
Lisa from The Cutting Edge Of Ordinary whipped up a batch of these brownies and blogged about it. Check it out!