For some reason I thought that starting this month’s daring baker’s challenge at 8:00 pm was a good idea – what was I thinking? Before I even get to that point, let me start by saying that I thought that this month’s challenge of Danish Braid sounded exciting, challenging yes, but I was excited to try to create a laminate dough…and i loved that I had everything needed for the recipe except for the whole milk so there was no need spend $50+ on ingredients – so than you to Ben and Kelly who hosted this month!

Back to the 8:00 pm start, I had read through the ingredients, I was prepared to do all the dough turning, and leave it in the fridge overnight to bake the next day. Then came the slow unravellings of what could have been a long evening. My dough mixer wouldn’t power up. I had run out of ground cardamom apparently, so had to crack the pods and pound to smithereens with my mortar and pestle. Then I made a batch of dough and forgot to add the eggs, but didn’t know until had made the first well and had the liquid pour out all over the counter…and then finally, finally after remaking the dough, rolling out and turning it, but wait, one more mess to clean up, I spilt the carton of milk all over the counter – sigh – by 1:30 am, I was ready to go to bed.

I seldom loose my patience in the kitchen, but boy I am sure Pete was glad that I had something to get my frustrations out on! I enjoyed the process of braiding, it was interesting to see how such a simple step could create something that looked well presented. Below is the result – the dough didn’t rise as much as I would have liked.

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

Apple Filling
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

Directions: Dough

  1. Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.
  2. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.
  3. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain (My edit after round two – start in a large bowl, make well and add liquid, combine in the same method as follows). Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.
  4. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.
  5. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.
  6. 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.

Directions: 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.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.
  3. Set aside at room temperature.

Directions: Turning the Dough

  1. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
  2. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.
  3. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.
  4. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.
  5. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.
  6. 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.
  7. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left.
  9. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.
  10. 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.
  11. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Directions: Apple Filling

  1. Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Putting it all together
(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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.