This post is long overdue, so my apologies to all the Daring Bakers who have stopped by to check on my pastry, and who I've also neglected to visit. (As my mom said, "That Danish Braid has been proofing all week!") First, thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'? for setting such a great challenge. (Yes, that's the same Ben, who was nice enough to send us our beloved Pop-A-Lot.) Due to his allergies my son had never eaten any kind of pastry, so I've contemplated trying to adapt a recipe, but hadn't been brave enough to do so. Kelly and Ben chose Sherry Yard's Danish Braid recipe with its fragrant, spiced dough, which was helpful when baking something that usually depends on butter for its flavor. (The original is in The Secrets of Baking.)
Rather than post the original recipe and my adaptation, I'll send you to Kelly for the original version, and just give you the changes I made to it. For my attempt I halved the recipe, which is why the quantities of the ingredients are so different.
For the dough (Detrempe):
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 C coconut milk
2 Tbs granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C fresh orange juice
1 1/2 C + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt For the butter(less) block (Beurrage):
1/2 C coconut oil
2 Tbs all-purpose flour The original recipe called for two eggs. I left the yeast at a full packet, rather than halving it to compensate for any rise that would be lost. Since the coconut oil provides plenty of fat, I simply increased the amount of orange juice to compensate for the liquid removed from the recipe. It seemed to work well.
This was the first time I've used coconut oil for baking. I chilled it, as the butter in the original is, and quickly discovered that the expensive stuff becomes extremely hard in the refrigerator. I had a terrible time measuring it correctly. As difficult as it was to get out of the container, the oil came together beautifully with the flour and spread perfectly. If I use coconut oil for this technique again, I'll measure it warm, then chill just the portion I'll be using.
Forgetting that I was making half a batch, I rolled the dough out too thin and had a little leakage when folding the dough for the first time. I gave the dough one additional fold in half after the first turn and didn't have any other problems with it.
After resting overnight, I rolled the dough out to its final dimensions to match my cookie sheet rather than the recipe. (I twirled up the scraps of dough, sprinkled them with some sugar, and baked them into some yummy little breakfast treats.) I'll confess right now, I used a ruler to get these even strips!
For the filling, I had planned to use two mangoes, but one of them had mysteriously disappeared from my kitchen. So I cooked up the remaining mango with an eight ounce can of crushed pineapple to make up for the missing fruit. The filling didn't look very appetizing, but it tasted amazing.
The braid came together easily, but I realized later after seeing some of the other DB posts that I should have planned better to close the ends of the braid. I painted it with some of the leftover coconut milk and sprinkled it with turbinado sugar, then let it proof. The sugar should have waited until it was ready to bake, since the crystals tended to dissolve in the coconut milkI was very pleased with how the braid turned out, and am actually looking forward to making more laminated dough in the future! Thanks again to Kelly and Ben for a great challenge.