Memories… All Alone in the Moonlight….
This Daring Baker challenge brought back memories of working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston. Waking up at 3:00, (yes, that is AM) being alone in the huge kitchen at 4:00 and baking off the Danish and muffins for the day. Good times… good times. Well, not so much. I can honestly say I don’t miss that! Plus I had to listen to the creepy overnight cook ask for the 100th time… Time to make the donuts? No you idiot. I don’t make donuts. Stop asking me that! Sheesh!
This challenge from Kelly and Ben was to make the infamous laminated Danish Dough and shape it into a braid. It’s extremely time consuming, and perhaps a little difficult, but not impossible. The outcome however, is worth the time invested, as its fabulously delicious. Luckily, I have experience making Danish Dough from my year of working the morning shift. Of course, I had a sheeter (dough roller) at my disposal, which makes the job so much easier.
This was my first time making laminated dough at home, and it wasn’t as easy as when I made it in the hotel. The hardest part was keeping my dough cool enough. I tried to work as quickly as possible to ensure the butter block wouldn’t melt. I also found it better to let it rest between turns for 45 minutes instead of 30.
As for the braid, I chose to do the exact recipe given, apple filling. What a good choice. It was fantastic… The apples still had texture, and the caramelized sugar worked nicely with it.
I split the work into three days. The first weekend, I made the dough and froze it. The second weekend, I assembled and baked the braid on Saturday and the remainder of the assorted pastries on Sunday. I can tell you my husband is one happy man right now! I told him not to get used to this… we’re back to dry wheat toast next weekend Mister!
The small danish were an assortment of flavors and fillings. The spirals were smeared with a little pastry cream, sprinkled liberally with cinnamon sugar and chopped almonds before rolling. The squares are filled with pastry cream (after baking) and topped with fresh raspberries. All pastries were brushed with apricot glaze afterwards to give them a little sweetness, make them shiny and keep them moist.