Danish Braid with Prunes and Nuts

3.26.2012


I bumped into this recipe by accident. I wanted to make danish pastries on a regular basis, so had to find a recipe with some kind of a shortcut. Of course, many had discovered it already. Of course.
I could never settle for one of anything: one appliance, one kitchen utensil, one cookbook. Give me at least five from each category. My food processor would be a part of those five, probably my top three. It´s such a handy helper. Fast, reliable, not too messy (unless you realize you broke the side of the lid when your crumble ingredients end up all over your counter). Human flaws aside, it´s a great appliance. I use it to make this cake and even baguettes.


Who knew that mixing flour with butter until it´s the size of kidney beans, not peas please, would make such great dough. And the first part of the dough can be left in your fridge up to four days before you start rolling and folding it. And you can opt to just make braids with it, instead of the individual danish that require so much time and dedication, and you will then understand my endless love for it. One shape, any filling combination and you can serve many hungry mouths. If I have dry brownies or cookies, I crumble them up and use them together with some cream cheese mixed with sugar for a great filling. I´ve even used stale muffins, crumbled and dried out in the oven. The possibilities are endless. 
Someday you will thank me for this recipe. If you are not using it all the time already.

DANISH BRAID

The recipe written here is for two braids, but I divide the final dough into thirds, because I like so many different filling combinations. That way I have three smaller ones, 4 to 6 servings each. The pictures of this post are of less than half of one of those finished braids. This time I used some prune lekvar and cinnamon sugar with nuts I had left over from this recipe. Combinations I use regularly are: almond paste with toasted almonds; walnut and quince paste, ricotta with raisins; ricotta with apples; walnut paste and chocolate chips. And after the egg glaze I usually sprinkle with regular white sugar.

Makes 16 servings (two braids)

Ingredients

1/3 recipe Quick method Danish pastry (recipe below)
1 to 1 ½  cups Prune lekvar (see note)
3 Tbs Cinnamon walnut sugar (see note)
1 egg + 1 Tbs milk, for glazing
Extra sugar
Confectioners´ sugar icing (recipe below)

Directions

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and divide in 2 equal parts. Working with one half at a time (keep the other refrigerated), on a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12x6-inches (30x15cm) rectangle. Place on a baking sheet that has been covered with lightly buttered and floured parchment paper or Silpat. What did we do before Silpat??
Spread the filling, prune lekvar, down the length of the center of the strip. Cut slanting or straight strips along both sides op toward the center using a dough scraper or a pastry wheel. Be very careful and gentle when doing this; I slashed one of my beloved Silpats. Fold strips over the filling in a crisscross manner.
Let rise 1 hour (more or less depending on the tº), just until the pastry appears puffy. It will not double. Beat the egg and milk and brush the pastry lightly with it. Sprinkle with sugar.
Turn on the oven to 375ºF/180ºC about 20 minutes before baking.
Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.
Frost with confectioners´ sugar icing if desired.

if you first make small indentations with the rolling pin it´s easier to roll into an even thickness
 
Dough with three folds three times, ready for the fridge



QUICK METHOD DANISH PASTRY
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas

Ingredients

3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups (340g) chilled unsalted butter 

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup (120g) warm water (105º to 115ºF/40º to 46ºC)
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon freshly crushed cardamom seed (I use ground)
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room tº
¼ cup sugar

Directions

Put 3 ½ cups flour in the work bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade; add the cold butter, cut into chunks, and process until the butter is the size of kidney beans.
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the cream, cardamom, eggs, sugar and salt. Mix very lightly with a fork.
Turn the flour and butter mixture into the yeast mixture and mix lightly with a fork or spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened. It reminds me of scone mixing.
Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 4 days. I transfer the wet dough to a plastic bag before refrigerating.
Turn the dough out on a floured board; dust with flour. Pound and flatten to make a 16 to 20-inch (40x51cm) square. Fold into thirds, top 1/3 down and remaining 1/3 up, making 3 layers. Turn dough to your right, as if it were a book, and roll again. Repeat the three folds two more times for a total of three times. Like puff pastry. This should result in a square. Mine never does; I always end up with a rectangle.
Wrap and chill the dough 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Confectioners´ sugar icing:  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 to 3 teaspoons liquid of your choice. Depending on the filling I use orange juice, lemon juice or milk. Drizzle over the warm braid.




5 comments:

  1. This pastry looks delicious! I will definitely give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do try it if you can. It´s extraordinary. An amazing discovery.

      Delete
  2. I really want to make this!!! It's going right to my pinterest and then I'll have to find an excuse to bake them, they look great!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I gotta try this , it looks amazing !!!

    ReplyDelete

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