A quick review - Sherry Yard’s the Secret Books of Baking is one of the finest books on Baking. She has created Desserts for Grammy Awards;Emmy awards and academy awards too.Even the most elaborate pastry creations can be broken down to simple pastry that anybody can master,that’s what Secrets of Baking is all about.Her book is like a bible to me.Not only does she talk about how ingredients work she also talks about how recipes are interlinked. Her Deep Dark Chocolate Tart and Halsey tart is to die for.I tried the "Danish Braid Bread" from her book and I must say it was just perfect….simply outstanding!!! This bread is called the “Vienna Bread” in Denmark and in the rest of the world it’s the “Danish Bread”.When I had decided to bake this bread,the looks of it made me a li’l nervous but it wasn’t that difficult as I had anticipated it to be.Sherry made it a lot easier .I tweaked the recipe a li’l to suit my taste. Here it is for your eyes….
Danish Dough-(called the D`etrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or a tbsp active dry yeast
½ whole milk
1/3 cup Sugar
Zest of 1 orange,finely grated
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
2 large eggs,chilled
¼ Cup fresh orange juice
3 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
For the Butterblock(called the Beurrage)
2 Sticks butter,unsalted
¼ Cup All Purpose flour
3 Pears ,peeled and finely chopped
½ C Sugar
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
½ tsp Vanilla extract
¼ Cup lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
For the Egg wash –
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
Dough - Combine yeast and milk in a bowl of standing mixer,mix on low speed.Slowly add sugar,orange zest,vanilla extract,eggs and orange juice and mix well.Combine flour and salt and li’l by li’l .Knead the dough for five mins more until smooth. Add a li’l more flour if its sticky.Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30mins.
Butter Block – Combine butter and flour in a mixer.Cream on medium speed until smooth and lumpy.Set aside at room temperature.You should it end up with fully creamy texture,which should be easy to spread.
Once the Dough is chilled,transfer it to a work surface.Using a rolling pin,roll the dough into a rectangle (close to 18x13inches) and ¼ inch thick. L’il dough can help if its still sticky.Spread butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.Fold the left edge of the dough to the right, covering half of the butter block.Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center right.This is the first turn.
Place this on a baking sheet ,wrap in a plastic film and refrigerate for 30mins.Place the dough again on a floured surface, the open ends should be on your right and left.Roll again to a rectangle, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.This is the second turn. Again refrigerate the dough for 30mins.Roll out,turn and refrigerate the dough two more times,for a total of four more times.Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least five hours to overnight.The Danish dough is ready to use.
Filling – Toss the pears with all ingredients except butter.Melt butter over medium heat.Saute the pear mixture intil soft and caramelized.Cool it.(The original recipe called in for Apple Filling)
Make the Braid - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 15x20inch rectangle,1/4inch thick. Place it on the baking sheet.Create a fringe down one long side of the pastry by making parallel,5 inch long cuts with a knife,spacing them 1 inch apart.Repeat on opposite side.Spoon the filling down to the center of the rectangle.Starting at one end,fold the strips of fringe over the filling,alternating one by one,right,left,right and so on.When the last strips have been folded,trim them neatly.
Egg Wash - Whisk together egg and yolk in a small bowl.Using a pastry brush,lightly coat the braid with the egg wash.
Bake - Cover the braid with plastic film and allow it for proofing for about 2 hours,or until doubled in volume or light to the touch.Preheat the oven at 400F.Place on the center rack and bake for 10 mins.Rotate the pan from back to front,turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for 8-10mins.The original recipe called in for 15-20mins,but mine was done in less than 10 mins.Cool and serve the braid.The cooled braid can be wrapped tight and stored refrigerated for upto 2 days or freeze for a month.
Verdict – Aesthetic looks makes it all the more appealing.Good texture makes it all the more intriguing. This pastry tastes and looks best when it is filled with a fruit filling that isn’t very juicy.I love love loved it A must try recipe!