Today is the one-year birthday of Wild Yeast. Holy crow, time flies! I’m not one for elaborate birthday bashes, so let me just say this: Thank you to all of you who read here, and to all of you who share your fabulous blogs with the world. A year ago, I never could have imagined that I would ever meet so many extremely cool people from every corner of the earth, let alone count you among my friends. You’ve made my year!
Now, about that Danish:
The Danish pastries I made last month were good, but not as flaky and crisp as I like them, because the dough wasn’t laminated. I had planned to try again, with lamination; little did I know that Kelly (Sass & Veracity) and Ben (What’s Cooking?) were plotting to force my hand by choosing Danish Braid for this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge.
When I read the recipe (from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking), I was a little surprised to see that the roll-in butter for the Danish dough was to be softened by beating it (plus a bit of flour) in a mixer to give it a spreadable consistency. The lamination in my (admittedly short) past has involved whacking a block of chilled butter with a rolling pin to shape it into a still-firm rectangle around which the dough is wrapped.
Also, I wondered whether the prescribed 30-minute chillings between folds would be sufficient to keep the butter and dough cold enough to maintain their separate layers. But it is the job of the dutiful Daring Baker to follow directions, and I am nothing if not dutiful. Plus I was curious. Plus I was a little short on time, so 30 minutes it would have to be.
Rather than using the recipe’s apple filling, were were granted the leeway to choose our own. I created a concoction of cream cheese, crème fraîche, ground walnuts, and agave nectar, and topped this with fresh unadulterated fruit. Blueberries for one braid, and for the other, a combination of sliced golden apricots and another fruit that looked and tasted for all the world like a black plum except that its skin had the barest hint of fuzz and the sign in the market said “Black Beauty Apricots.”
As it did in my previous Danish pastries, the fresh fruit worked very well in the braids. I have seen others express concern that fresh fruit releases too much liquid during baking and should therefore be cooked down before using it as a filling, but this hasn’t been a problem for me.
I was a little less thrilled with the cheese-walnut filling that accompanied the fruit. The taste was passable, although It could have been a little sweeter to offset the tartness of the crème fraîche. The bigger problem was that, once baked, it looked a bit unappetizing. Don’t you think?
The dough itself tasted fantastic. Scented with cardamom and orange, how could it not?
The biggest disappointment, though, was that the dough was just not properly laminated. Instead of flaky, it was dense and doughy, and it really didn’t rise at all before or during baking. I’m not very experienced with laminated doughs, and undoubtedly more adept hands than mine would have made a better success of this. Now that I mention it, lots of people did make a great success of this; go check out the braids of all my Daring Baker counterparts.
My inexperience notwithstanding, I do think a big part of the problem was that the butter was, as I had feared, just too soft and warm; it got incorporated into the dough during the rolling and folding, rather than maintaining its own identity. For Danish Take Three, I’ll go with the rectangle-of-butter method, and leave the dough in the fridge for maybe twice as long between turns.
As with all my Daring Bakers challenges, this was a ton of fun and although my braids may not have been quite ready to hit the big time, my co-workers devoured them in nothing flat. To hosts Kelly and Ben, to DB masterminds Lis and Ivonne, and to all the Daring Bakers whose numbers continue to climb and are each month one step closer to taking over the world: Well Done!
I thought it was strange too that the butter was beaten, I couldn’t figure out what purpose it served. Mine was a little bready too, but the flavor of the spiced dough was great wasn’t it? Glad you did a laminated dough, your danishes look excellent.
Ulrike aka ostwestwind says
To tell the truth, I was satisfied with the lamination but wasn’t fond of the taste of cardamom and orange :-)… I prefer the rectangle-butter-method
But the result looks appetizing.
Ulrike from Küchenlatein
happy birthday to youuuuuu.
Even if your result didn’t satisfied yourself I’m so surprised your creations looks ever like perfect!
This still looks fantastic despite you not being happy, loving the sound of the filling too
maybelles mom says
happy birthday. we were too crazy this week to make our challenge (avoiding it all month backfired), but yours looks wonderful. (i wonder how your pulled pork went, too.)
Looks great that braided pastry!
Happy birthday! And lovely braids! I too want to make it again and work on the lamination part…
Happy anniversary! I cannot believe you’ve been blogging for just a year. The blog is so well done — very instructive with great photos.
I think you did a nice job on the braided pastry. I didn’t get around to the Daring Bakers challenge this time.
Happy blog-birthday! I found the butter method strange too – but easier than the ones I’ve used before.
Jen Yu says
Happy birthday to your blog! You know, even though the dough may not have turned out the way you expected it to, the braids are beautiful and the dough looks delicious to me 🙂
Happy blog-o-versary! Your braids look great – the non-rising thing was common across the board. Love the sound of the black beauty apricots – yum!
happy blog birthday!
I’m actually fairly happy we didn’t have to whack cold butter with a rolling pin. I’m definitely afraid of that method. Your braid slices are beautiful too!
Happy Birthday! Your Braids look amazing. I love how much they rose.
Happy one year anniversary and your braids look fabulous!
Lovely! Happy birthday to Wild Yeast! I too liked the dark looking apricots better – for a moment I thought they were plums because of the colour! I missed this one but am going to make it sometime soon! We generally rub butter and flour in Indian layered puff pastries too but the filling is generally of milk solids or dry coconut with dry fruits.
Happy One Year Bloggoversary! Times does fly when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? Those black beauty apricots sound dreamy and look fabulous in that braid, which, now that I’ve messed around with this dough as much as I have, look really great. I enjoyed not having to beat that buttah brick, getting to smear it on instead. But I’m lazy like that! On to the next challenge, right?
Happy one year anniversary! I really agree with your sentiments about laminated dough. I did not have layers, the dough was delicious otherwise and yours looks wonderful!
Congrats, wow already one year!
I love this dough (not the cardamom and orange). It was easier to roll out with the softened butter then the one I did before for BBD with the chilled butter. But you right it’s no a real laminated dough more like a brioche. And I think your braids look just perfect!
Happy Anniversary! Great way to celebrate it:) Your Danish looks good to me. It was a great challenge, wasn’t it!
So many times I come here and suffer such shock Susan. Again we were thinking along a similar vein. I picked up a dozen of those black beauty apricots. But before I baked, they all went missing;))) and there were no more at the store 🙁
The apple was wonderful but I think I best enjoyed the simple blueberry with brown sugar and then the raspberry was the very best.
Happy Blog Anniversary!!
Happy Birthday to you!
wow, your filling of cream cheese, crème fraîche, ground walnuts, and agave nectar, with fruit sounds incredible. i definitely have to remember that one ! beautiful job.
I too loved the flavor of the dough! Great job – oh, and Happy 1 year anniversary!
Happy Blog-Birthday Susan! I’m so glad you came into the blogsphere to share all the yeast goodness with each other! Your danish looks absolutely yummy.
OH and on my 3rd go around, I decided to go the hard butter block route and had much better laminated results. So, I encourage you to try that. I’m sure you will enjoy the flaky goodness.
Again, congrats on your one year!
congratulations on reaching one year of interesting posts – and on the danish braid – seems very daring but fun – have never heard of laminated dough before and don’t have much desire to try one but love to see what others are doing – thought your cream cheese filling with blueberries look very appealing
Jen (Modern Beet) says
Congratulations on one year!
The braid looks delicious too! I joined DB this month, and mine came out pretty well — it was my first attempt at any sort of laminated dough, but I can see myself trying it again in the future, perhaps for croissants…
lovely danish 🙂
And yes happy blogversry
Happy bloganniversary! Your braids look wonderful! I love the fillings you chose!
Happy “Bloggy” Birthday, Susan. I think your braid does look good. Liked the filling idea.
My braid wasn’t layered and more bread like. My dough chilled for about an hour each time (I ended up forgetting the time while doing other stuff, every time). But I got beautiful layers in my croissants. Haven’t figured this one out.:)
Hi, this is Noor from Ya Salam Cooking! I just love seeing all the yummy things that you bake and hope that you can participate in this months baking event, we would love to have you join!
happy blog birthday! what beautiful braids. even though they might not be 100% laminated in the traditional sense, but your fillings sound delish!
Cynthia's Blog says
I really had success with the recipe. I thought the cardamom / orange was spectacular, but I would like to know what other aromas were popular. Your braids look great
Yum, the apricot filling sounds delicious! Mine were a little doughy, too, and not as flakey as I would have liked but it was still a good learning experience for me since I’d never done it before. I like your suggestions for “next time” to help the butter keep its own identity. Anyway, your braids look beautiful!
Madam Chow says
Happy Anniversary! Your braid looks great. I had to let mine rest 40 to 45 minutes between turns, because it was so hot where I live that the butter was squirting out all over the counter. Then, I didn’t do the egg wash (I’d already used 9 eggs in my braid), and I think that may have helped with the flakiness. I loved the taste, and the texture was good, but I’ve had flakier pastries so, of course, I will continue to experiment until I get it “right!”
Katie B. says
I am glad I wasn’t alone with my doughiness!! Your braids look delicious, though – I love your inclusion of blueberries!
Happy Bloganniversary Susan!!
I know what you mean this community rocks! So many great people with great blogs. I also wanted to thank you, as I love your blog and you were the first ever blogging event that I participated in – March Roundup – getting me hooked. This Danish is amazing…going to have to start joining these DB Challenges.
Congratulations! Good to know that fresh berries work well in laminated doughs. I’d be all over the blueberries in a cinch.
Dana McCauley says
Happy birthday to your blog! Nice work.
Happy 1st Birthday! I’m looking forward to another year of Wild Yeast 🙂
zainab @ meedo says
Happy one year anniversary! 🙂
Happy Anniversary Wild Yeast! And what a mouthwatering celebration it is.
E L R A says
your pastry looks so perfect….
We Are Never Full says
Just wanted to say hi and happy birthday. i just found your site and i’m happy i did! i’ll be back!
Everyone, thank you so much for coming by and for your sweet birthday wishes!
My prior experience with laminated doughs called for beating with the rolling pin, too, so I was surprised by this one. I had the same experience with the layers not quite being there, but the taste was still good. Happy blog birthday!
Congrats on your Blogobirthday! I just had mine too!
Your pastry is perfection 🙂
Happy Blogaversary Susan!
I think that your braid looks just lovely, no matter how the dough tasted it looks delictable!
Andreia Sousa says
Happy Birthday!!! Hope you continue to blog a lot because I love to read your adventures. Congratulations.
Happy anniversary! (too many comments to read, so I’ll just post my thoughts on lamination) From my observations, if the butter runs out, it’s too warm, and if the butter breaks/cracks, it’s too cold. I have really warm hands (good for bread, bad for everything else) so it’s good to keep your hands cool and laminate it as quickly as possible. (you know it’s too warm too when the dough is just too warm and soft).
And you really need the butter and the dough to be of same consistency (as pliable as the dough) before rolling it out (so you don’t really need to beat it, just warm it up with your hands, or leave outside to warm and then mould it to size, or beat it with a rolling pin [beating = friction = warmth]). ^^
Hope it helps (hope I’m right lol). Ooo and I lurve your posts on flour and bread making (agree 100%). ^^
mike d says
Happy birthday, Wild Yeast! I’m a week late, due to a lack of internet, but it makes me happy that my favorite blog’s birthday is just a few days away from my own.
Finally I made it here! Happy one year anniversary!! I agree about the dough, both times I halved it and it laminated beautifully, all layered and all. The one time I made the full recipe, it was allright but not as flaky. I love your choice of fillings! Great job as always!
Posting this a bit late but have you tried the Julia Child recipe for Danish Braid. It’s fool proof and although it has a bunch of steps the end results is dazzling.
Usually I do it over three days so I am not so over whelmed.
The recipe can be found in the “Baking with Julia” book which was written by Dorie Greenspan