Sunday, 29 June 2008

June DB Challenge - Cherry & Custard Danish Braid

It's the end of June, which means time has come for the Daring Bakers to take over the blog-waves again!

This month we were set the enormous challenge of a Danish Braid with a filling of our choice.

Hours before I discovered this challenge, I was having lunch with dear Laura, who was telling me all about these amazing German custard and cherry pastries she devoured when she was working in Hahndorf, South Australia.

So by the time I'd finished reading the recipe for this latest challenge I knew I would use a cherry and custard filling and started thinking of how I could do that. I ended up finding a jar of morello cherries in juice at the supermarket, boiling them down with some sugar and mushing them to create a yummy compote. I glugged some custard on top and closed my braid and the end result was heavenly. Sour and sweet with flaky, sweet and buttery pastry.

The challenge took me a long time with all the resting (5 times + proofing) (one night and one morning which I didn't enjoy this time. I think because it was stopping and starting. The actual making of the braid part was fiddly but enjoyed it and the end result looked really special, which made it all worthwhile (as did the taste!). I made one large one and 1 small one, which I froze after proofing, defrosted in the fridge over night and then the next day took it out of the fridge for a few hours before popping it in the oven, and it worked fine, which is always good. Overall, I really enjoyed this challenge, I think the end result was my favourite out of all 11 challenges I have now completed, it was yum! I don't think the process was though, and I doubt I will be making Danish pastry from scratch again, although who knows!

If you would like to check out how my fellow Daring Bakers went with their Danish Braids this month you can do so here.

For the dough (Detrempe)
28 grams active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
225 grams cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup 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.


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.

After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 45 x 33 cm and 0.5 cm 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.

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 33 x 45 cm, 0.5 cm 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.

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.

Cherry compote
Makes enough for two braids

500 grams cherries, washed, pitted and halved (or 1 jar of morello cherries)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch, or orange flavored-liqueur

In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, water, lemon juice, and sugar.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and kirsch and add to the cherry mixture.

Return to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.


Makes enough for 2 large braids


1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups cherry compote
1 cup of thick vanilla custard
2 tbs flaked almonds (for decorating)
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 38 x 50 cm rectangle, 0.5 cm 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.

Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 12 cm long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 2.5 cm apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you've already made.

Spoon the cherry compote onto down the center of the rectangle of the braid and then glug a little custard over the top of your braid.

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

Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 32 degree C environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

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 180 degrees C, 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.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Black Dhal

Dhal is one of my favourites. For me, its a comfort food. As mentioned on this blog a few times by now , I assume, the Indian culture, and therefore Indian cuisine has been central in my life since I was born. Whenever I’m not well or down, I enjoy making dhal (or ordering it takeaway) and enjoying it with rice and yogurt. Dhal is an easy dish to prepare made with spices and lentils. Black dhal is, in my opinion, a fancy dhal. It originated in Punjabi, in the North of India and is creamy and has a very different taste to traditional (yellow) Dhal. I’ve tried to make it a few times but this last time was the first time I truly succeeded. It tasted as it should. The black lentils (urad dhal) take a very long time to cook in comparison to other lentils. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, then you’ll need to cook it gently overnight to get the same effect.

I’m looking forward to making this again. Its delicious. I usually make way too much as it freezes really well.

1 cup black urad dal
2 tbsp kidney beans
2 tbsp chickpeas
5 cups water
salt to taste
red chilli powder to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
4 tbsp ghee
4 pureed tomatoes
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp butter
1-2 tbsp tomato ketchup
medium bunch coriander

Soak 1 cup black urad dal, 2 tbsp kidney beans and 2 tbsp chickpeas in cold water for 5-6 hours.

Drain water from soaked dals. Add 5 cups of water, 1.5 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic paste, 1/2 tsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp ghee and 1/4 tsp red chilli powder. Put these in a pressure cooker.

After first whistle, boil on low flame for 40-45 minutes.

Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a pan. Add 4 pureed tomatoes and cook till tomatoes become a little dry. Add 2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp garlic paste, 1/2 tsp ginger paste and 1/4 tsp red chili powder. Cook till oil separates.

Add boiled dal to this tomato mixture with 1 tsp butter and 1-2 tbsp tomato sauce.

Mix and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame mashing some of the dal occasionally to create a nice thick texture.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and cream.

Sathya-rating ****

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Gordon Ramsay



Gordon Ramsay.



Little ol' me.

He's perfect.


I promise a recipe is coming soon, the move is almost complete.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Perfect Party Cake

I made this again on the weekend.

Actually, would you beleive I made it twice! Once on Saturday morning for a dear friends baby shower which was demolished in under an hour and then just the cake party (no buttercream) last night. I'm having some people over for dinner tonight whom I want to spoil and as I was throwing around ideas for dessert I thought why not amke just that gorgeous cake and serve it with some berries and fresh cream. I'll let you know how it goes. I can't imagine any other way than brilliant.

The method of rubbing the sugar with the lemon zest before you get started is genius. The smell it creates is divine!

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share just how brilliant this cake really is!

Sathya-rating *****

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Baba ganoush

I don't like eggplants/aubergine. Nope, don't like it. Won't order it, cook it, serve myself some. For some reason this is changing. Its funny how things change. Everything does really, well, I think it does anyway. My tastebuds are ever changing and eggplant is one of the last things to cross the line. I made this eggplant curry a couple of months ago and loved it and now baba ganoush has come along. I love it. And, I love the eggplant curry. Does that mean I now like eggplant? Nah, I don't think so.

This is what came up when I typed baba ganoush in Google and its easy and delicious.

1 large eggplant baked then peeled
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of tahini
blend in blender or
mix with mortar
mint or parsley for garnish
olive oil/cayenne pepper to top

Roast the eggplant for one hour in a hot even and then place a plastic bag to cool, then you can peel and remove top, place in a bowl. Add garlic, lemon juice and tahini paste, blend in a blender or with a mortar. Spread onto a deep plate and garnish with parsley or mint and top with olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or paprika.

Serve with turkish bread, crackers or pita breads fresh or toasted under the grill with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Sathya-rating ****

Monday, 2 June 2008

Tiropita - Greek Cheese Pie

Being back in my home town brings all sorts of feelings. One of my favourites is catching up and cooking a nice meal for someone I love and haven't seen much of in a long time.

Monday night was one of those nights. I'd had a hard start to a second week in my new job and had forgotten plans with a dear friend I'd hardly seen since being in Adelaide. I dragged my sorry bones home wondering where I was going to muster the energy to cook dinner and hang out. Our guest arrived as I did and the pure luxury of having her there gave me all the energy I needed. I had a great night, made this pie from what was in the fridge while catching up on the latest gossip and news and just hanging out with an old friend and too much wine - I was full of beans and feeling much happier!

80 grams baby spinach
4 eggs, lightly beaten
400 grams feta cheese
few shavings fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper
10 sheets filo pastry
6 tbs melted butter
1 tsp kalonji (black onion seed)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the spinach, eggs, cubed feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper and blend together with a bamix till just smooth.

Lay pastry on flat work surface, covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush one sheet with melted butter and top with second sheet of filo. Repeat until filo is finished. Brush the remaining butter into the pie dish, line with the buttered filo and spoon the filling in and fold the sides onto the top. Cut pieces from the sides if too long and place over the filling to cover. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle on the kalonji or sesame seeds and place into the hot oven for 20 minutes or till golden and firm to touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving with salad (we chopped 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 red capsicum & 4 tomatoes into chunks and tossed them in glug of olive oil, juice of half a lemon & salt and pepper).

Sathya-rating ****