Daring Bakers Challenge: Filbert Gateau

Unfortunately I had to sit out on this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge due to spending most of the month traveling. Please check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll for great photos and read out the experience of making this month’s cake.

An Iowa Dinner

I love summer in Iowa because we have Farmer’s Markets that are full of fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, local meats and eggs, beautiful flowers and various homemade sewn goods. On Saturday morning I headed with the girls to our Farmer’s Market. Each week there are more and more vegetables and fruits to choose from.  My favorite Farmer’s Market finds are tomatoes and sweet corn.  BLTs and sweet corn were a staple of my childhood meals.

Our dinner was a delicious BLT (I switched the lettuce for some local sprouts), sweet corn, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and pesto couscous.This is a perfect summer meal! ENJOY!

BLT
2 slices cooked bacon
lettuce (or sprouts)
2 slices tomato
2 slices crusty French bread

Preheat oven 425 degrees F. Lay slices of bacon on cookie sheet, cook for about 10 minutes. Once done lay on paper towels to absorb grease.

*This is the best way to cook crispy bacon!

ASPARAGUS WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO
1 bunch asparagus
5 slices prosciutto

Blanch asparagus. Wrap prosciutto around 6-7 pieces of asparagus. Lightly spray bundles with canola oil. Roast in 425 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts

STOP! Please don’t turn away, just not yet. If you’ve had a bad brussel sprouts experience, you MUST give them another try. Let me guess, if you’ve had brussel sprouts before they were probably boiled into a unrecognizable greenish sluge. These are not your mom’s brussel sprouts. Cook them this way and your family will rave. My husband is a fairly picky eater, especially when it comes to the veggie group, he tried these brussel sprouts and asked to have them at dinner the next night.

These baby cabbage lookalikes, once roasted have a delicate green, nutty, buttery flavor. Even my 9 month old daughter enjoyed them. I dare you to eat just one. Welcome to vegetable heaven!

ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Brussel Sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss halved brussel sprouts in enough oil to evenly coat, season with salt and pepper. Lay sprouts cut side down on shallow baking pan. Roast 15 minutes, flip sprouts and roast 10-15 minutes more. Serve as is. ENJOY!!!!

Chart House Restaurant

While in the Phoenix area, Alex and I ate at the Chart House restaurant, this restaurant was AMAZING! You get your moneys worth here. The price of the entrees were between $25-$30. I ordered their Spiced Yellowfin Ahi Tuna. I’ve always wanted to order tuna in a restaurant, and figured given the “fanciness” of the resaurant, they would probably know how to cook tuna perfectly. The tuna was the BEST PIECE OF MEAT I’VE EVER HAD. Being from the Midwest, I have had delicious and tender, steak and pork, but this tuna blew them out of the water.

The Yellowfin was flavored with cajun spices, then grilled. It was set upon a ginger soy butter sauce (YUM!). The tuna was served with a wasabi cream on top of carrot ribbons, and a side of spinach & bok choy (which they neglected to put on my plate). While I was busy poking around the carrot ribbons (looking for my spinach) I picked up a giant fork full of the wasabi cream, boy did that open up my sinuses. The tuna was cooked to perfection, so tender and juicy. As I took my first bite,  I placed the tuna on my tounge and it melted away. MMMMMMMMM! So good! This is something I want try to tackle in my kitchen.

Hotel Cooking

My husband and I are in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ for a FileMaker Developer Conference. (That is FileMaker DevCon to you techies. ) Alex is in conferences all day, while I am enjoying my time reading, exercising and swimming at the hotel. Unfortunately since I am not a conference “attendee”, I am on my own for food. I can be resourceful, I can survive.

When we arrived, we went to the grocery store and picked up a few snackie foods, something to get me by during the day. We then went to our hotel to check in, much to my surprise, NO MICROWAVE! For breakfast I had Quaker Oatmeal, that I made by heating water in the small coffee pot. It was delicious, except I had to eat it luke warm, because there where no utensils, and I had to use my fingers. Yeah I am roughing it.  Lunch consisted of Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt (eaten with my fingers and for digestive health) and cheese slices with Toasted Wheat Thins chips, not too terrible. I did call the front desk and ask if there was a microwave for their guests to use, well lo and behold they delivered one to my room.

Tonight’s meal is looking more promising; we are going out to eat with my husband’s boss and his wife. Chart House Restaurant was recommended to his boss; I checked out the menu, everything sounds like it is going to be delicious; I just wonder if it will cost both arms and legs to eat.

Daring Bakers Challenge: Danish Braid

Sorry for the extremely late post. June seemed to wizz by so quickly, it was full of lots of traveling. I did find time to make this month’s challenge, and it was delicious. I chose to make one sweet filling and one savory filling.

I was excited when I saw this month’s challenge was the Danish Braid, since I am Danish on my mom’s side of the family. I called my Grandma Bonnie and asked her about traditional Danish fillings. Grandma being the wonderfully resourceful woman she is, went through some of her “Dane Country” cookbooks and emailed me her findings. She said many of the braids were filled with canned pie filling, several had prune or raisin fillings (YUCK!), there was a pecan filling (going to try), and almond paste (going to try). I will include the recipes at the end of my post.

Even though making the dough was really time consuming, I will make this delightful pastry again. The choices of fillings are endless. Check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for some ideas. When I made my braids, I did not allow my dough to proof very long (sorry I was impatient), as a result my dough was not a flaky as it could have been.

Here is the original recipe.

DANISH BRAID

Makes enough for 2 large braids

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

DANISH DOUGH

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
¼ cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
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.

BUTTER BLOCK
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.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
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 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.
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.

HERE IS WHAT I DID:

SAVORY RUNZA DANISH BRAID

1/2 recipe Danish braid (follow recipe)

filling:
1/2 lb browned hamburger
1 c sauerkraut

Follow recipe for cutting, filling, proofing and baking. THIS is amazingly delicious!

* I did not use cardamom or vanilla bean in my dough.

SWEET(ISH) RASPBERRY, BRIE, AND PECAN DANISH BRAID

1/2 recipe Danish braid (follow recipe)

filling:
1 small wheel Brie
1/2 c halved pecans
1 1/2 c sweetened raspberries (recipe below)

Follow recipe for cutting, proofing and baking.
To fill:  slice brie and layer over dough. Add raspberries and pecans.

*This would be delicious with a glaze drizzled over the top.

SWEETENED RASPBERRIES
2 c frozen raspberries, pureed
1/2 c sugar

Mix all in sauce pan and boil until sugar is dissolved and raspberries are thawed.

GRANDMA’S SUGGESTED FILLINGS

Almond Paste Filling—Mix: 1c. almond paste, 1/3 c. butter & 1/3 c. sugar

Pecan Filling:  Cream 1/4 c. oleo and 1/2 c. brouwn sugar, spread on dough and sprinkle with pecans

Raisin:  1/4 c soft butter, 2 c. powdered sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 T. cream.  Beat with mixer and add 1 c. raisins that have been soaked in boiling water until plumped.

June’s challenge was hosted by Kelly from Sass and Veracity and Ben from What’s Cookin’. They chose this recipe from Sherry Yard’s from The Secrets of Baking.

Daring Baker’s Challenge: Danish Braid

I have not forgot about the Daring Baker’s Challenge this month. In fact, I have completed it and enjoyed it thoroughly. Unfortunately I will have to wait another day to blog about it. I have been traveling, and don’t have the photos on my computer to upload. Please check back tomorrow. I have made both a sweet and savory version.

Meanwhile, checkout the other Danish Braid lineup at the Daring Baker’s blogroll.

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