Sneezing my way through Denmark

It´s Daring Bakers´ time, people! Yep, I´m back. This month, our gracious hosts are Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What´s cooking, and they chose a great recipe that lends itself to make shapes and fillings: Danish braid with a wonderfully aromatic cardamom-orange flavored dough.

Danish braid

We were given the chance to do whichever filling we wanted and even play with the shapes once we had done a braid since the recipe shields two big braids. I was planning on doing just that yet the flu caught up with me.

And to make matters worse for me, I was doing the braids for Father´s day, so I was going to have to suck it up and get the recipe done. So I divided the recipe in two days and baked at my “high” moment, meaning those few hours when the flu meds did the trick and I felt somewhat normal.

Since I had seen fresh quinces around, I chose to do a quince compote and apple filling. And since many people are still unfamiliar with quinces, I did a little step-by-step photo shoot to show you the progress from fruit to compote since the change in color itself can be quite confusing.


Danish braid

I love how it turned out and the dough is quite versatile so I see myself playing with this again, you know, when I´m not with the flu and I have the uncontrollable urge to fold and turn, then chill, and then fold and turn again.

Danish braid
If you want to check out endless, and I´m sure endlessly creative, variations of this recipe, check out what my fellow Daring Bakers did this month.

Oh, and let me know if you are interested in the quince compote recipe because I´m lazy when it comes to typing up recipes, but you know I´d do anything for you, my dears 😉


POACHED QUINCES (from The Essential Baker, by Carole Bloom)

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups water

1 vanilla bean, split down the center (I didn´t have any, so I just omitted the vanilla)

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

1 pound of ripe quinces (3 medium or 2 large)

1. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the vanilla bean and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the quinces. Use a sharp chef´s knife to cut the quinces into quarters and remove the core and seeds (this last part is the one that proved to be more difficult and time-consuming, but just be patient and watch those fingers). Place the quince quarters in the sugar syrup and cook, simmering, until the quinces are soft and turn a light rose color, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the quinces and their cooking liquid to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in their liquid. The quinces can be kept in a tightly covered bowl or container in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Ideas for use: I used them in the recipe bellow with apples, and in this recipe for apple cake I posted about  a long time ago, simply reducing the amount of apples a little bit and adding the poached quince cut into little squares. I´ve also thought of using it in a tart arranged fan-like over a nice cardamom-spiced custard.


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose 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.

1.    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.
2.    After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  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 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.  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.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter 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.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

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.  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.
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 (Pam…) 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.    Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.

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.


Filed under bread, Daring bakers, food, sweet

31 responses to “Sneezing my way through Denmark

  1. Quince! Great idea. I love quince so much. Just not the time of year for them here.

  2. They sound scrumptious and look beautiful. Hope you are feeling better!

  3. I have 2 quince trees. End of August I can harvest them. Do you think until then you can let me know the quince compote recipe? 😉

    Beautiful braid!

  4. OH MY….it looks wonderful!! And quince and apple sound so good. Hope you’re feeling better!

  5. You did a fabulous job; using quice was a wonderful idea, too.

  6. jeppe4ever

    Greetings from Denmark …
    I saw your recipee, and did not really recognize it at first, but when I looked closer, I could see, yes, it is a classical danish cake.
    My mother used to bake it a lot – only she did not use as much spice (vanilla, cardamom, orange etc.) in the dough.
    She didn’t use much filling either, just a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and some butter.

    Anyway, you can buy it in any danish bakery store .. ususally with a little fruit and some cream filling, and icing on top which tend to make it a bit too sweet ..
    But as you write, you can make all sorts of delicious fillings, low-fat and low-suger, according to taste.

    By the way, my mother used to call the cake “hvedebrød” (Wheat Bread) but a more official name in Danish is Vandkringle (water pretzel) (because it is often made in that shape – like Danish pastry .. )

  7. davimack

    Yay! I’m glad to see an interesting filling like this! I may get hold of you later to ask for the recipe, as they tend to have things like quince over here in the UK (and to include them in our organic box, leaving us confused).

    Looks yummy!

  8. sleepingbear

    The close-up of your flaky dough brought a tear to my eye, stunning!!! And to fill it with quince…heaven!!!!

  9. Beautiful flaky pastry and really nice filling!

  10. Quince? Haven’t herd of that. I’m going to keep my eyes open for it now. I hope I find it here! Your braids look so fine 🙂

  11. Mama Kelly

    Stumbled in from the wordpress front page. Had to stop and say how delicious this looks!!!! I may give it a try for the winter holidays as it is just so decadant sounding.


  12. One day Marce I’ll try quince, it always sounds so romantic to me – don’t know why, maybe it’s just the word is exotic.
    Gorgeous photos and really beautiful braid! It was good!

  13. madcapCupcake

    Beautifully done!! – I absolutely love, LOVE, quinces…and I can’t find them anywhere – looks delicious 🙂

  14. Marce, Quince and Nuts!! My oh my, I see honorary Danish citizenship headed your way for that flaky pastry!

  15. I love you!!! The quince paste was great with the danish. Leftover paste….not really! The tin is almost all gone because we have been having some everyday for breakfast!

  16. Ohhh. Quince. Sounds heavenly.

  17. Zita

    Aww… braid looks stunning… and yes, of course we want the quince compote recipe 😉

  18. absolutely beautiful!

  19. The strands look so flaky – fantastic!!

  20. Lovely, lovely job! I started two quince fillings which both failed. Glad yours turned out so well!!

  21. Nice job! Love the quince filling. Your braid looks very flaky:)

  22. Quince compote sounds mouth-wateringly delicious. Congrats on beautiful work and beautiful photos.

  23. GASP. this is to die for! the pictures completely say it all – – my mouth is watering and i wish i could hop in a taxi or the bus and be right over to eat some with you!

    those twists look so elegant too… hope you are feeling better now! the flu is such an ugly sickness – you can feel well enough to sort of do things, but just bad enough to not really do anything…

    ps it’s record breaking temps here – 91F yesterday! i think it’s up to 90F again today…. whew!

  24. Ben

    Great job. I am also going to do this over and over again. It was just so much fun!

    Thank you for baking with us 🙂

  25. Have not had quince yet. I think I am missing out by the sounds of it. Where to find it? Your braid is beautiful!

  26. Wow I can’t believe you made these with the flu!
    They’re beautiful and I love quince-membrillo excellent idea to use them in this with the flavour combination in the dough.
    Hope you’re feeling better!

  27. Oh yum – the quince sounds amazing! Thanks for the step-by-step goodness!

  28. Your braids look wonderful. But I have absolutely no idea what a quince might taste like. I hope you a very well very soon.

  29. Wonderful! And I would really love to find a place here that sells quince. That looks amazing–I bet Guillermo would love this recipe!

  30. I love quince, but for some odd reason I’ve always been reluctant to work with them in my own kitchen. I bet they made a *great* addition to the braid.

    Hoping that horrible flu is but a distant memory by now…

  31. Looks great! The layers are just amazing.

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