Danish Pastry Braid
This year marks Julia Child’s 100th birthday. I am totally humbled by the opportunity I had to know and work with her. Since then the number of people who saw the show continually surprises me.
With the holiday season coming up – more quickly then ever before, it seems, I thought it would be a good time to share the recipe for Danish Pastry that I made on “Baking with Julia.”
It’s a quick version of the classic pastry, of Viennese origin, which has become a specialty of Denmark and neighboring Scandinavian countries. In Denmark, it is called “wienerbrod” or “Viennese bread” and is known the world over as “Danish.”
In this quick version, rather than folding and rolling a layer of butter into a yeast-raised dough, the butter is cut into the flour, as for making pie pastry. Once the liquid ingredients are added, the dough is refrigerated overnight. Even though you can skip all the folding and rolling of the dough, I like to do it a couple of times to flatten the butter that is mixed into the dough so that when the pastry is baked, it is flaky and delicious.
This recipe is an adaptation of one in my book “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.”
Apricot-Almond Filled Danish Pastry Braid
Makes two filled braids, 6 servings each
1 package or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105°F. to 110°F.)
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly crushed cardamom
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Apricot Filling (recipe follows) Almond Filling (recipe follows)
1 large egg white, beaten
Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes for sprinkling
Sliced almonds for garnish
For the glaze: 2 to 3 tablespoons cold strong coffee plus 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, egg, sugar, salt, and cardamom. Set aside.
2. Measure flour into the work bowl of a food processor with the steel blade in place or into another bowl. Process or cut the butter into the flour (as for making pie crust), until the butter is the size of peas. In a food processor it takes about 8 to 10 pulses.
3. Turn flour mixture into the bowl with the yeast, and working with a rubber scraper, gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl, until the flour is moistened.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or up to 4 days.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust with flour. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square. Roll the dough out to make a square about 16 inches on each side. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter.
6. Roll the dough out again, into a long, narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold into thirds again. Roll a third time into a 20-inch square. Once more, roll the dough into a long, narrow rectangle, 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold in thirds again, wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
7. Roll the chilled dough into a rectangle 12 inches wide and 16 inches long. Divide the dough lengthwise to make two strips. Lift one strip at a time onto parchment paper. Working with one strip at a time, spread half the apricot filling down the length of the dough, then top with half of the almond filling. Repeat for second strip of dough.
8. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp-pointed knife, cut 12 to 14 slanting lines down each side of each strip of dough, angling the cuts from the center of the pastry to the edge, cutting the strips about 3/4 inch wide.
9. Fold the strips of pastry onto the center, criss-crossing the filling by alternating one strip from the left side of the pastry with one from the right. Lightly press the ends together to seal and run your hands along the sides of the pastry to straighten them. Transfer each strip onto a cookie sheet.
10. Let rise for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar and almonds. Preheat the oven to 400°F. and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Drizzle the braids with the glaze.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 cup packed, dried apricots, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Microwave on high power for 8 to 10 minutes until apricots are cooked. Cool. Turn into a food processor with the steel blade in place and process until smooth. Makes about 2 cups
Cream together 1/2 stick butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup pulverized almonds, 1 (7- ounce) log of almond paste, cut up, and 1 egg white until a smooth paste is formed. Makes about 2 cups.
If you would like a printable copy of this recipes, click here!
This download is a pdf file that requires Adobe®
Reader®. If you don't have this software you can download
it free by clicking on the link below.