Daring Baker’s Challenge – Danish Braid

May’s Daring Baker challenge was an Opera Cake which I was going to make for my kids’ piano recital…  Um, but after being at the dentist for several hours with my littlest one I, well, didn’t.  And last month, you know, June?  Well, I never did quite get to it until now.  I think I need to stop trying to find an excuse/reason/event to make the challenges for and just make them for the challenge…  And DON’T WAIT FOR THE END OF THE MONTH to start the challenge!  Duh!  Don’t worry, I know exactly when I am making the challenge for July.  And it will be started next week.  Wow, how’s that for planning for a change?


I was really quite happy about June’s challenge for a couple of reasons.  One I miss a nice croissant and can see this being very easily adapted to that application.  I have been lusting after the ones on Gluten Free Gobsmacked for awhile now and haven’t gotten to them yet, so this was a nice opportunity to try a similar technique.  And the other reason I was happy? Cardamom, baby.  Oh, yeah.  It’s that Swedish coming out in me.  Ya gotta love it!


The biggest problem I had making this recipe is that I chose to make it for July 4th weekend.  It’s not the weekend that was the problem, but the temperature.  Making lamintated dough on a day that is over 80 degrees is not the best idea.  I had to keep tossing my dough in the freezer to firm up the “butter” layers as it kept melting into the dough.  It worked out okay, but the next time I make it I will do so in and air conditioned house.  There would have been more of the flaky layering that usually characterizes this type of dough.  I made half of the dough into the apple braid and the other half I made into small danishes. I show how I shaped the small danishes at the bottom.  I forgot to take pictures of how to shape the braid.  Oops!


June’s recipe was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?   Thank you, both.  This was a lot of fun and now I have a great recipe to keep working on that I have a lot of excitement for.  


Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough

Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking



Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 

            ¼-inch pieces

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ vanilla bean, split and scraped

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread or 

            coconut or olive oil

Toss all ingredients except margarine in a large bowl.  Melt the margarine in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.  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. 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 topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.















                    Scraping vanilla beans for the dough…                                    The dough getting ready to be wrapped.



Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough


For the dough (Detrempe)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast                  (I may lower amount to give a slower rise…)

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/3 cup sugar or cane juice crystals

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1-1/2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2 large eggs, chilled

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 cup millet flour

1 cup tapioca starch

½ cup mixed brown rice flour

½ cup white rice flour

¼ cup sweet rice flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum                      (I will increase this to 1 ½ teaspoons next time)

1 teaspoon pectin or gelatin             (I used pectin for this batch and will try gelatin next time)

1 teaspoon salt


For the  “butter” block (Beurrage)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/4 cup sweet rice flour



Combine yeast and almond 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. In another bowl, whisk the millet flour, tapioca starch, rice flours, xanthan, pectin, and salt.  Add the flour mixture, 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,(it will be a bit sticky as it is gluten free dough, but you will be able to roll it out after it has been in the refrigerator). Flatten dough to about 1 inch thick on plastic wrap.  Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.



1. Combine margarine and sweet rice 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.  (It was too warm at my house to leave at room temperature.  Next time I will make sure this if cold enough to be more firm, yet soft enough to be able to indent and spread.)


2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (use sweet rice flour or tapioca or potato starch). Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the “butter” block 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.


3. 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 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-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.

4. 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 (I think this is not needed for the gluten free bakers as this is probably to develop the gluten in the dough.  I skipped the 5 hour wait time as I wanted to get going on this.  Next time I will bake off half right away and bake the next half the next day to compare the difference). 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.















                    My dough ready for the fridge…                                                    Look at how nice it rolls out!!















       “Butter” block spread out (it should have been colder).                                    First third flipped over…














                            Second third flipped over..                                                                        Ready to chill.



Makes enough for 2 large braids



1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)

2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see above)


For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk


1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. Place the dough on the baking sheet.


2. 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.


3. 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.


Egg Wash

Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.


Proofing and Baking

1. Spray cooking oil (be sure gluten free!) 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 hours was to long for my house temperature and I think for gluten free – will try 1 to 1 ½ hours next time.)


2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.  (I increased temperature to 450 and will try 425 next time.)


  1. 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.















        I did the final roll out and shaping on  my pan.                    The braid.  
















        Proofed, egg washed and dusted with cardamon sugar.                                                   Tastiness!!














The layers of the “butter” block did not stay cool enough, so I didn’t get the flakiness I was going for…  Next time!  It was still yummy.



Smaller danishes:

They all start with a square of dough.  I put them on parchment paper to help with ease of handling.















Two corner:















Four corner:
















Pin Wheel:






























I had 3 squares of dough left in the fridge after church, cut them into triangles, rolled ham and turkey around some “cheese,” brushed them with egg wash, topped with sesame seeds.  After they rose for 1/2 hour, I baked them off and we had them for lunch.  The dough is not very sweet, more of an implied sweetness, so the flavors actually worked together.


























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