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.


Dolores said...

I love your cherry and custard combination, and it's good to know that this one's freezable. Great job!

glamah16 said...

Cherries and cream. How lovely.

Peabody said...

Job well dont on the challenge...cherry and custard sounds awesome.

DaviMack said...

Wow! Yours look so much more like 'real' Danish than mine! I think it's the walnuts. ;)

Lorrie said...

You made it and it looks so good! Your braid turned out perfectly!

Anne said...

That filling is to-die-for! Beautiful!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

sounds good and the braided one is gorgeous!

breadchick said...

Cherry and custard! What a wonderfully sweet and sinful filling :-) Great job.

Harmony said...

Yummy combo.

Molly Loves Paris said...

Cherries and custard sounds awesome! I really like the idea of the morellos in a jar. Thanks for telling how you did it. Bien fait!

Dharm said...

OOh Yum!! Cherry and Custard certainly sounds divine! Great job on the braid!

Deborah said...

Your filling sounds wonderful, and your braid looks perfect!!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I wish I would have thought of custard, because I love custard and yours looks so good! Especially with the morellos! YUM!

silverrock said...

Oooo... custard and cherry sounds divine. Your braid looks so tasty! Way to go, this DB challenge was my favorite by far!

Ben said...

Those pictures look great. Thank you for baking with us :)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Gorgeous danish! I love the cherry and custard filling. That must have been so delicious! Terrific job!

Barbara said...

It looks so good! Hope you decide to make it again, I'm sure your friends and family will love you for it.

Barbara said...

It looks so good! Hope you decide to make it again, I'm sure your friends and family will love you for it.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Looks tasty! I love the cherries. I wish I could've found kirsch for mine!

Meeta said...

lovely lovely looking filling. i could make this all over again!

Dianne said...

Cherry and custard filling...Yum! It looks fabulous!

Debyi said...

Your braid looks really good and that filling! YUM. Great job.