Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - June Challenge

Daring Bakers - June Challenge

Well last month I signed up for my first ever Daring Baker's Challenge. I eagerly awaited the instructional email that would include our months top secret recipe. When it arrived I read through the four page document with photos, links, recipes, and tutorials. I must say that I was not afraid to try this recipe out...mostly because I thought it would be similar to the Nutella Challah bread I made.

The Similarities:
1. The dough ball gets split into two so you can make two loaves
2. ...ah yeah - that might be it!

Suffice to say Danish Bread is nothing much like making the challah! What is cool about the Daring Bakers is that this challenge really did stretch me beyond my typical baking regimen.

For starters - it did not come from a box! It even required that I test out some new ingredients. To that I will say - I am in LOVE with cardamom. I bought a small packet from the spice vendor at the local farmers market. It was maybe $2.50 and I can certainly see myself using it again. I will add it to my list of spices I love the smell of (my favorite being cloves).

I have never before braided a danish. Challah was my first braided bread - but that was even different from the danish bread

I have also never before made a butter block - nor had I ever watched hours of butter block videos on you tube.

The best part of the whole thing was that Jen and I ended up creating our bread on the same weekend. Emails and phone calls went back and forth the whole time. It started innocent enough with ones like these...
jen: what are you going to stuff yours with? Im thinking banana walnut cream for one....Mixed Berry Ricotta for the other? NOT SURE

dayna:I have frozen apples from the fall and then I will maybe do cinnamon rolls with the rest (see here...cinnamon rolls...the first evidence that I had no clue that this was not like challah dough)
this was my favorite email subject line from Jen:

ONE VANILLA BEAN AT WEGMANS COSTS $10.50??????????????????

my response:
yeah - I have looked a couple places - at the farmers market there was a pack of three for about $6 and I was not willing to spend that :) I think I will just add some more vanilla or something. (this could be foreshadowing of a disaster to come - I am already eliminating of my favorite cooking techniques - I here it does not bode well for baking!) **Also note that the pack I saw at the farmers market was really one for $5.
here is the second email showing my blissful ignorance - good thing I was setting my standards low:

I have done the braiding before when I made that hazelnut bread...A trick I read was to start in the middle of the braid and then braid down each side from the middle. I will have to watch the youtube video on the butter block, I have read the whole thing a few times so I think I am ok....but I am not expecting too much!
**Side note...starting in the middle with this braid - probably not a great idea!

too bad I don't have the panic phone calls back and forth where we
1 - realized we were each at the same time listening to the others least favorite musical artist while baking (phil colins and tom pety)
2- realized we might not have enough hours in the weekend to complete these breads.
Ok so lets get to it -
The recipe was for Danish Bread from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. Let me take a moment to reveal to you the "secret" - this bread takes 48 hours to make! But joking aside completing this was almost as rewarding as birthing my daughter - although that even took less time. The recipe features the wonderfully scented pairing of cardamom and kitchen at one point smelled like an orange julius - minus the artificial who knows what.

Who Is Sherry Yard - From Her Website:
Sherry Yard is the executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck's empire, including Spago, Cut, and Chinois. Each year her desserts play a leading role at the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Emmy Awards.
So here we are - yeast, milk, sugar, orange zest (shhh...I just used some OJ), cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla bean (oppss...yeah I was too cheap to use a bean for a first time recipe so added a splash more vanilla extract), eggs and orange juice.

Now the recipe mentioned using a stand mixer which I here with the dough hook attached - kneading the dough. However this recipe can be created without a stand mixer. I would not imagine the work that requires but Jen gave the whole thing a whirl with great results.

Smug photo - I had completed the first recipe - that of the DETREMPE (fancy word for dough ball). The detrempe was covered with saran wrap and chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes...well maybe more as I reviewed a few more videos from you tube to figure out how to tackle the BEURRAGE (fancy word for butter block).

Ok here we go - lets get the butter block a going! The cool thing about this butter block is that the butter gets beat and whipped in the mixer before being incorporated into the dough. I have to imagine that this is easier then beating the full blocks of butter into the dough as I watched on some videos.

One thing I was reading on the Daring Bakers message board was that many people struggled with butter popping out of edges and holes in the dough. Attempting to avoid that I did not spread my butter all the way to the edges of my dough. I had no issues with the butter coming out. Not 100% sure that this is why?!

after the butter is spread it is time to do the tri-fold of the dough

after 30 minutes in the fridge under wraps it is time for the first roll out. Since this was the first time I was making a real bake good I even used a fabric tape measure to be sure I was staying in the right thickness and dimension guidelines.

so this step is repeat a few more times - part of the reason why the recipe takes so long. At the end of the last roll out and fold the dough needs to sit for 5+ hours in the was late so I settled on overnight. I figured I would just get up and whip up a quick filling and a batch of cinnamon rolls....ah not quite.
The next morning after some more phone calls with Jen I found out that after stuffing the dough and braiding needs to PROOF? WHAT? Never heard of proofing outside of math and advertising. So we did not get any of this for breakfast. But here are the apples I stored from the fall - waiting to be mixed and caramelized.

Here are my cooled caramelized apples and half of my dough (the other piece sitting in the fridge as backup) ahh the potential is starting to be palpable.

The last roll of the dough requires a thin 15" x 20" rectangle. I ran out of counter space.

Checking that my fringe cuts are the right length and distance apart. The dough scrapper I bought at Ikea finally gets used for its real purpose.

Here all the cuts have been made for the bread and the channel space reserved for the filling.

Filled and ready for braiding.

Braiding was easier then I expected - just pulled one piece to the center and crossed with the equal piece on the opposite side.

Here it is completed. One thing I would change would have been to braid this on the silpat. It would have been easier then to move it to the cooking sheet. Instead I used a giant kitchen flipper.

See how it got a little scrunched as a result of being man handled with giant flipper.

The next step required an egg wash on the pastry as well as proofing. I was running out of time and opted for a short cut. Which after all this time was probably not the greatest idea - but I lucked out and it worked. I turned my oven to its lowest temp 100 degrees and let the dough proof in there for 90 minutes.

Fresh from the oven:

and ready to be enjoyed

The reviewers said the recipe was a hit. I tasted and enjoyed the bread. I was delighted that it tasted like something from a bakery - but also a tiny bit disappointed that it didn't taste more magnificent then something from a bakery at the same time (maybe the orange zest and vanilla bean would have helped). For the time it takes - I am not sure how often I will make this. I do still have my other half of dough left and hope to use it when cherries get to their peak in this area.

Bring on the next challenge!


giz said...

Yeah, I would tend to agree with you - not a whole lot of similarity to a challah except there's a braid. Your attention to detail paid off - your braid looks relly amazing.

Jennifer said...

Yay!! So much fun and your bread looks sooo good!

Braiding on the Silpat would have been a very good idea. I did it for my 2nd one but didn't think of it for my 1st either.

Em said...

congrats on completing your first challenge - love the step-by-step pictures :) the end results looks suuuuuper tasty!

have a delicious day :)

Gift of Green said...

I just have one word for you: "Omygod" I am in awe!!

Tina said...

Yum...I will be making this! We do make our own bread but have not tried this yet.
Vinegar Herbs ect...
All I do is put a large amount of fresh herbs in the vinegar. We use pretty glass bottles ( old salad dressing bottles work just fine) with tight fitting lids. Basil, garlic and a touch of rosemary is nice to have for marinating. Thanks for stopping by!

Jessica said...

Yum! I had to chuckle when I read your favorite email heading about the vanilla bean cost at Wegmans. When I worked there people used to get all cranky when they saw the cost of some foods like that and yelled at me like I had some piece in deciding the price of vanilla beans. If it were up to me, vanilla beans would cost almost nothing because they are so yummy!

breadchick said...

Welcome to DB and excellent job on your first challenge.

Claire said...

Great job on your first challenge! Looks tasty.

Ben said...

Welcome to the group, I am sure you will have a lot of fun with all the challenges. You did a great job on your first one. Thank you for baking with us :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Welcome to the group and congratulations on nailing your first challenge! You are so lucky to have a big flipper, I probably would have just cried :)

Anonymous said...

For me, I don't have much time to cook from scratch so it isn't too practical for me to cook fancy recipes too often.
For challah bread, I usually buy from Holy Food Imports because the food comes from Israel so it is really unique.

Dolores said...

Congratulations, and welcome to the Daring Bakers. Great job on your first challenge... what a fun one to start with. And I love the way you shared the experience... it's so much fun to bake with others.

HoneyB said...

Great job on your first challenge!

Tia said...

This is such a helpful tutorial for me... I've gotten through the last turn, and was wondering how on earth I was going to split the dough in half. lol

And completely unrelated but I LOVE the name of your blog, because my minor (and other passion) is linguistics, so the f-ne-tic-lee tickles me. :-D