Daring Bakers: Danish braid and pastries

Danish braid filled with home made vanilla custard and bilberries, and glazing on top.

It’s time for another Daring Bakers challenge! The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications except where specifically allowed. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day.

This month’s challenge was to bake a Danish Braid from Sherry Yard’s “The Secrets of Baking” and the recipe was picked by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?

Before I mention anything else this recipe does not taste like genuine Danish pastries. I love them and I could eat one every day but as they’re not good to your waistline I only eat them every second day… The Daring Baker challenge pastries and braid were good, but they don’t taste like the original ones. The result was nice and I liked them but it wasn’t as I expected. The recipe calls for cardamom and orange zest which is an odd flavour for Danish pastries as they are normaly plain. I had fun baking the challenge but it really wasn’t worth the effort, especially since I know where to get excellent freshly baked Danish pastries (ie in every decent Swedish bakery).

I chose to make a braid and a couple of pin wheel shaped pastries. As I love the classic Danish pastries with vanilla custard I filled the braid with home made vanilla custard (for the first time ever it came out perfect) and bilberries. The pastries were filled with the same vanilla custard, raspberry jam and raspberries.


    Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

    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

    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.

    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.

    Makes enough for two braids

    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.

    Makes enough for 2 large braids

    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.

47 Responses to “Daring Bakers: Danish braid and pastries”

  1. Maura
    June 29th, 2008 19:37

    Beautiful braid! I was looking for something to do with the extra dough, but I ran out of time and creativity. Your pinwheels look tasty!

  2. Marija
    June 29th, 2008 20:09

    Wonderful pinwheels!

  3. rainbowbrown
    June 29th, 2008 20:13

    You did a beautiful job. Your filling looks rather magnificent.

  4. DaviMack
    June 29th, 2008 20:19

    Well, yours look beautiful – but I know what you mean about the flavour. They didn’t taste like anything I’d had before, so they were interesting. I think, though, that filling them with something unexpected (a savoury filling, perhaps) might have made the difference for you, particularly if that filling were spicy? Something you couldn’t get in a bakery there?

  5. PHILO
    June 29th, 2008 20:32

    C’est très beau !

  6. Courtney
    June 29th, 2008 20:45

    I love your pinwheels! I think we all agree on the diffrence. But it was good exercise. Im more determined to make the puff pastry I remeber now. It is a lot of work for something I cant enjoy to its fullness due to all those calories. :-)

  7. Sakya
    June 29th, 2008 21:00

    Very nice
    I liked that challenge


  8. Carmella
    June 29th, 2008 21:11

    I love the pinwheels too!!! Great job!

  9. Rosa
    June 29th, 2008 22:07

    A wonderful braid and gorgeous Danish Pastries! Really perfect and mouthwatering!



  10. Manue
    June 29th, 2008 22:11

    Magnifique !!!!

  11. BC
    June 29th, 2008 22:15

    You are lucky to be able to find pastries easily, not always the case in every place. But it helps us appreciate the work that goes into a good pastry.

  12. Anne
    June 29th, 2008 22:41

    Yum! Those flavor combinations look inredible :) And I totally agree – flavored Danish dough, who knew?

  13. breadchick
    June 29th, 2008 22:41

    I was looking forward to your post to see how this recipe compared to the “real thing”. Your braid and pinwheels are just lovely!

  14. Molly W
    June 29th, 2008 23:02

    Your pastries look, and probably taste, great. It’s very interesting to hear that the recipe was not traditional. Where I live you absolutely cannot get really great Danish pastries very often, so knowing how to make them is a good thing. In America most of the pastries are much too sweet. On my first trip to Europe I wanted so much to bring back a huge box of pastries, but I envisioned them being confiscated and I thought that would make me so upset. So I didn’t do it.

  15. Angela
    June 29th, 2008 23:23

    Your braid and pastries are beautiful!

  16. sunita
    June 30th, 2008 00:03

    Dag, I love your pinwheels…they look perfect :-)

  17. Jeena
    June 30th, 2008 00:07

    How beautiful, I love danish pastries and yours look amazing. :-)

  18. Dove
    June 30th, 2008 00:09

    Pretty pinwheels. I love the berries peeking out of the braid, too. Looks delish!

  19. marika
    June 30th, 2008 01:04

    Gorgeous, stunning danish work!! My mouth is watering, looking at all these beautiful photos :)

  20. Mom Quixote
    June 30th, 2008 01:10

    I actually preferred this to the usual Danish…

    Your pinwheels are to die for by the way!

  21. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle)
    June 30th, 2008 02:16

    your pinwheels are my fav so far. great job.

  22. Seamaiden
    June 30th, 2008 04:05

    I enjoyed this challenge a lot- for me, the cardamom reminded me of a Christmas bread (julekake?) my Father-in-Law makes, and we’re big fans of that spice, so we were happy. I have to bake gluten-free, so I was happy that the recipe turned out well for me, but I can see that it might not be as impressive if you’re able to buy (and eat) authentic Danish pastries where you live. Your photos are very beautiful.


  23. jasmine
    June 30th, 2008 04:17

    Very interesting about comparing it to the real thing. Would love to get an authentic recipe to try.

    I’d thought about doing a pastry creme, but I got lazy. I see it peeking from your stars (which look lovely, btw) and I think I’ll try it next time.


  24. rachel
    June 30th, 2008 05:54

    Pretty pinwheels..prettier braid

  25. pompelpot
    June 30th, 2008 07:29

    Très appétissant!!

  26. Dolores
    June 30th, 2008 08:39

    Vanilla cream with bilberries sounds lovely. Great job… beautiful braid!

  27. Dharm
    June 30th, 2008 13:13

    That braid is just lovely!! I wish I had seen your’s before making mine so I’d have known how to fold it properly. Was in too much of a rush…
    Your pinwheels look superb too!

  28. sandra avital
    June 30th, 2008 15:43

    Your pinwheels are soooooo gorgeous! I love them!

  29. marye
    June 30th, 2008 16:46

    that looks great. I have never had bilberries but it sounds awesome.

  30. Cathy
    June 30th, 2008 16:48

    WOW – these look great – Your precision is so impressive.

    That with a great cup of coffee what a wonederful combo.


  31. Jen Yu
    June 30th, 2008 17:59

    Lovely lovely lovely braids as always, but I think the pinwheels are especially adorable! Great job on your challenge.

  32. morgana
    June 30th, 2008 18:53

    Tasty look!!!

  33. Patti
    June 30th, 2008 19:02

    Oh, that’s lovely. Nice job. I loved it, too.

  34. Shaw Girl
    June 30th, 2008 19:37

    I agree that the taste wasn’t the same as an authentic Danish pastry (we lived in Germany growing up, so we had access to the real thing fairly regularly), but I was pleased with the result. I’d do it again but try different fillings. Yours turned out beautifully, especially the adorable pinwheels!

  35. Claire
    June 30th, 2008 21:27

    I LOVE the pinwheels! They are just too cute. Great job!

  36. Katie B.
    June 30th, 2008 23:32

    I am drooling!! Your pastries look so delicious!

  37. Lauren
    June 30th, 2008 23:47

    Ooo I love the braid. It looks beautiful. Your pictures are also amazing!!

  38. Renee
    July 1st, 2008 01:16

    How Gorgeous! Your pastry’s look so professional and so yummy.

  39. jillian
    July 1st, 2008 03:39

    What lovely photos of your beautiful pastry. The braid and the pinwheels look perfect!

  40. Lisa
    July 1st, 2008 06:01

    So pretty! Very nice job on the braid and I’m going to copy the pinwheels :)

  41. Aparna
    July 1st, 2008 12:18

    While I’m not familiar with bilberries, your braid and Danishes look absolutely stunning and professional.

  42. Y
    July 1st, 2008 15:59

    What beautiful beautiful pastries! I love the filling you picked.

  43. ingegerd
    July 1st, 2008 20:13

    its look beautiful!!Nice work!!I like your blog!i loves cats!=)

  44. Pook
    July 2nd, 2008 05:49

    I’m love your pinwheels, and I think custard feeling is great.

  45. Meeta
    July 2nd, 2008 08:49

    I liked your unbiased critique of this recipe. Even though they did not taste like the real thing as you would get them in Sweden I still liked the recipe. Probably with chos and raspberries everything tastes good. However I have to say your filling does sound tooooo tempting! Lovely!

  46. Tartelette
    July 4th, 2008 21:52

    You had the same reaction I did when we made the croissants…hard to be happy with something else than the original. I think that a lot of different turned out with a lot of different texture, bready versus flaky. I like both as long as there is sugar in them! The pinwheels are adorable!

  47. Elif
    July 24th, 2008 02:48

    Hi,this is wonderful recipe but i think the same about orginal danish pastry’s taste.Because i ate it in le pain quotidien than i addict it.and it is not include cardomom.
    i’d like to cook dansih pastry but i could not find a good and original recipe.Do you suggest any source or recipe or would you cook it and share with us?i m looking forward it.

Leave a Reply

Thank you very much for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it.