June 29, 2008

Something Rotten Sensational from the State of Denmark...

At least if *my* audience reaction is any indication.

I give you the image moments before the gang dove in...


And when they cleared from around the table so that I could take another picture...


But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

It all started early in the month, when Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin' (my most recent T&C partner, for those of you paying attention) tossed down the gauntlet to over a thousand Daring Bakers: in the heat of the summer (at least in most of the northern hemisphere) we'd be testing our skills with a yeast based laminate dough as we baked the Danish Braid.

For the pastry, they chose Sherry Yard's Danish Dough from the Secrets of Baking. For the filling we could use Ms. Yard's apple compote or branch out in any direction we wanted, as long as it was of our own creation.

As is typical for me, I spent the majority of the month contemplating what I might wrap my braid around. Prosciutto and parmesan? Apricot in a lavender and honey pastry cream? Cherries jubilee? Strawberries and vanilla cream? Bacon, eggs and potatoes? Chiorizo and egg? Mushrooms, shallots and goat cheese? An endless stream of ideas, all of which sounded promising.

On last Thursday afternoon I pulled out the ingredients for the pastry, no clearer idea of what I'd fill it with than I'd had at the first of the month. I mixed and kneaded and refrigerated and rolled and refrigerated (and caught three back episodes of Good Eats). I was generally quite pleased with the results of my efforts at the end of the fourth turn as I put my dough into its overnight hibernation. I loved the flecks of color provided by the vanilla bean, cardamom and orange zest, and although I have no previous experience working with laminate dough beyond opening the frozen Dafour package, it just *felt* right as I was working with it. Soft, silky, elastic but not rubbery.

Friday evening arrived quickly (though not as quickly as desired in some aspects). I still had no clear direction on how to fill my braid. But it was to be our contribution to a potluck picnic for which we'd need to leave by 9 AM on Saturday. My window for decision-making was narrowing quickly.

After some discussion, John and I decided on a simple smoked salmon and spiced cream cheese filling. Off to the always-open grocery we went. Sorry folks... at T minus less than 12 hours, I wasn't going to be smoking my own salmon. When we got back, John read the recipe (for the first time) while I pulled the dough out of its cryogenic hibernation. There was some discussion and some shared concern about whether the salmon would work with a sweet dough, but at this point we were committed or should have been.

The recipe said the near refrigerated dough should be left to proof for 3 hours before baking. I decided to throw caution to the wind... I covered it with plastic wrap and left it on the counter as we headed to bed shortly after midnight.

I got up at 7 Saturday morning, preheated the oven and surveyed the damage. Lo and behold, what were logs of twisted dough when we retired on Friday actually looked *sort of* like braids in the early morning light. Hallelujah!

I baked off the braids according to the instructions given in the recipe and left them on the counter to cool as we got around and prepared for the day. We tented them loosely with foil as we headed out the door. When we got to the bocce picnic, I shot a couple of pictures in natural light and quickly sliced one of the braids and set it out by the coffee as people hovered, curious. The second picture above is the remnants of the first braid as I prepared to replace the platter with the second.

Hey Mikey, they LIKE this. I'm clearly going to be making these again. As I repeated the story of my month-long quandary with the recipe and the Daring Bakers, I got at least a dozen requests for several different versions, and some tips for slicing and icing sweet Danish pastry from a sweet senior citizen who'd grown up in a bakery in Canada. Marion's not terribly internet savvy, or I suspect Ivonne & Liz would have another new non-blogging Daring Baker in July...

Thank you Kelly. Thank you Ben. This is probably my best Daring Baker experience to date. I tried something new. I learned a ton. My braid looked gorgeous. AND it tasted great. A four star experience.

To see how over a thousand other Daring Bakers fared with this recipe, check out the blog roll.

From the archives...
In 2006 I collected recipes from around the blog world.

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90 comments:

Dharm said...

OOh! Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese!! And YOU call ME a tease! LOL. I love how your Braid looks! Great Job my friend! And remember to let me know when you make it again with Nutella and Bananas. Yum!

coco said...

Your Danish braid looks so pretty. And salmon and cheese sounds so good!

ostwestwind said...

Smoked salmon and cream cheese sounds divine. Gorgous looking braid, I bet the taste was even better"

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

Peabody said...

Seriously...you are on time again??? Are you feeling alright? :P
It is all looking good Dolores!

Cakelaw said...

Smoked salmon and cream cheese - delicious!!!! Like a bagel but better.

Christine said...

Smoked salmon and cream cheese sounds delicious! You did a wonderful job on your danish braid!

Ann said...

Fabulous filling idea! And your braid looks just beautiful!

PAT A BAKE said...

Wow ! Now thats what I call cool.

Angela said...

Wow, those are some seriously impressive layers!!

Smoked salmon and cream cheese is such a great idea for a filling, too.

Joy said...

Oh I love that you tried a savoury filling - great idea. I also love that you did the Hamlet reference - great minds...

Aparna said...

I couldn't comment on your filling (I'm vegetarian :)) but looks you got a positive reaction from everyone there. Your braid does look nice.

zorra said...

Really gorgeous! 4 stars at least! ;-)

rainbowbrown said...

That's great that it was so well recieved, it sounds delicious. You should totally make it again to try out some of the other yummy sounding fillings. Great job.

bunny said...

don't you just love it when a plan comes togther even at the last minute! i didn't know what i was gonna fill mine with till the last minute either! great looking braid!! and i would love to know what those tips where the canandian baker gave you!!lol

glamah16 said...

Smoked Salmon and cheese.! I would have run off with the entire loaf like that Sienfield episode with the marble rye.

Robyn said...

Your filling sounds delicious!

Temperance said...

What a beautiful braid. The salmon cream cheese combo sounds inspired.

Susie Homemaker said...

GORGEOUS. just perfect. I am sooo gonna have to make this again, and use your "proofing" method versus my car. and savory filling in a sweet dough - i will take your post as proof that it really does work...thanks!

bonnie said...

yum!
now that is how i like my cream cheese~~ with salmon!

Michelle said...

OMG...smoked salmon and cream cheese my husband would love you!!!

What a fabulous idea!

Natashya said...

Wonderful. I would like to have the smoked salmon and cream cheese danish braid for breakfast today. How great that leaving it out overnight worked out so well for you.

BC said...

Smoked salmon! That's brilliant. It's gorgeous.

Aamena said...

wow your braid looks gorgeous!

aisha said...

Great job! what a great idea to go with salmon and cream cheese filling... my favoritest ever! And here I thought the sweetened pastry wouldn't work with a savory filling.

DK said...

The braids have jus come out perfect. They look amazing!

DaviMack said...

Awesome! I'm so glad that somebody did a savory filling in the sweet dough - it works wonderfully, doesn't it? And nice job on the overnight proofing!

Amy said...

Smoked salmon and spiced cream cheese sounds so decadent. Your braid looks beautiful!

breadchick said...

OK, you have the most perfect savory braid I've seen! I love the idea of smoked salmon and cream cheese. I'm so trying that with the next batch.

great braids!

Fran Z said...

Ohh- sounds so good! Looks so flaky!

Elle said...

Love your comment about 'at this point we were committed or should have been....LOL. I, too, made a date for having the braid done...breakfast this morning at my home...some of us like pressure.
Your braid is picture perfect ...and obviously delicious, too!

dobetter said...

Smoked salmon an cream cheese...how wonderful! Seriously, some of my favorite flavors. Great job!

Aran said...

oh wow... i love this combination!!!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

beautful braid! the smoked smalmon filling sounds wonderful.

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

This was my favourite too! Well done, looks great, nice combination, I'm sure!

giz said...

Now there's a clever filling for a braid. You can wake me up at 3 a.m. if you tell me there's smoked salmon and cream cheese. Beautiful.

Brownie said...

Wow! Smoked salmon and cream cheese is an inspired filling! Yum, it looks fantastic!.

Liliana said...

Salmon and cream cheese - it must have tasted divine!

Great photo!

Shari said...

You had some great and creative ideas for using this dough! I love the one you ended up with. Thanks for all the ideas!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Tammy said...

I love your filling idea!! I actually think the pastry would hve lent itself better to a savoury filling rather than sweet. Well done!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dolores! finally a savory! And now I'm so ashamed of myself that I went sweet. This should have been a savory opportunity for me with this one!
I did really enjoy this one! Looked so much harder than it was. It did require time though!!
Beautiful braid so glad it was enjoyed.

Cynthia said...

i was equally as lost as you when deciding on the filling! but yours sound scrumptious! :)

Lori said...

Wow excellent idea and what a beautiful braid!

Half Baked said...

WOW sounds awesome! would be a great brunch dish! Nice looking braids!

Lorrie said...

wow your braid looks soo good!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

This is sensational all the way. Beautiful braid & great flavours. Was my best & most fun challenge to date too!

marye said...

you did a great job on this! Beautiful.

Angel said...

Thank you for the well wishes on my wedding. Your braid looks glorious. I'm going to have to try your proofing method sometime. It looks delicious!

briannalee said...

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese sounds amazing! Beautiful braid :)

Deborah said...

It sounds like this one couldn't have gone any better for you!! Great job - it's gorgeous, and sounds delicious!

Ally said...

It's so pretty! Im sure the salmon cream cheese was delightful!

Renee said...

What a wonderful day that you had! I loved the idea of salmon and cream cheese. Yummy.

Kevin said...

Looks good! You had a lot of tasty ideas for fillings!

Jenny said...

Wow I thought you were going to say everyone hated it (the rotten part of the title probably) so was glad to see everything worked out well. What a unique combination!

Dana McCauley said...

Another smart filling choice! I love me some sweet Danish but the savoury filling you chose sounds wonderful, too.

Great work1

Colette said...

That braid looks amazing! I've never had salmon, but spiced cream cheese sounds great. The photos are awesome!
Also, you left it out to rise overnight? Mine didn't seem to rise very much. I think I'll try letting it rise a lot longer next time.

KJ said...

What a great job!! Your braid looks fantastic.

I have finally answered the meme you tagged me for. thanks for the tag.

Y said...

I think the almost empty plate kind of says it all :) I like the idea of making a savoury danish. Will have to keep this in mind for next time.

A&N said...

Hi Dolores, it looks sensational indeed! I've seen several pics of other daring bakers' blogs for the Danish. Your dough looks slightly more yellow than others. Is it true or is it the lighting during the pictures? Just curious thats all. But yes, the braid looks gorgeous :)
A.

abby said...

gorgeous braid and lovely filling ideas.

i too loved working with this dough - as you say, it "felt right"

Madam Chow said...

Salmon and cream cheese is one of my favorite combos, and I still have the other half of my dough left in the freezer . . . .

Claire said...

Beautiful job! Looks wonderful...and what a great filling.

Katie B. said...

My goodness - you had so many delicious ideas! Can I be you when I grow up??!?! Your braid sounds lovely!

Barbara Bakes said...

Maybe I'll try leaving it on the counter overnight - if I make it again! Nice job!

Faery said...

Dolores Your braid looks gorgeous and with smoked salmon and cream cheese I am sure it was delicious

Gigi said...

This danish sounds amazing! You did an amazing job.

Jaime said...

your braid came out beautifully! love the first picture! :)

awww c'mon, why didn't you smoke your own salmon? :P

thank you so much for the kind words you left on my blog about the braids, they made my day! :)

Gabi said...

Gorgeous! I love the "before and after" the hungry horde descended pics :) AND I love all the possibilities for fillings that you came up with too- may I put my order in for one of each right now?
xox

Meeta said...

oh my goodness - salmon and cheese how exceptional. i#d be diving into that myself! perfect!

Lesley said...

Sensational job, and your fillings are excellent! I think I'm inpsired to give it another go!

Candace said...

Beautiful job and the filling sounds delish!

Andrea said...

You did a beautiful job! I kept thinking about savory fillings and wondered how they would go with the sweet dough and vanilla beans. Now I feel inspired to try some savory stuff!

Jen Yu said...

that second picture is awesome! i love me a savory braid too - great job and fabulous creation!

chou said...

Yum. What a great combo. BTW, I love your throw caution to the wind and proceed.

Liz said...

Gorgeous job! I love the savory option--makes me want to go to the trouble of making Danish dough again just so I can try it.

eatme_delicious said...

Ooo yum the colour of your braid is perfect and it looks so good! I should've been more creative with the fillings too.

Miss Ifi said...

mmm smoked salmon and cream cheese that just sounds delightful!!!
Congratulations on your yummy looking and probably incredibly tasting challenge!!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your danish. I'm with everyone else...cream cheese & salmon is to die for.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

What a cool combination! Wow! I can't believe it - how...DARING. ;)

Dianne said...

Salmon and cream cheese sounds heavenly! Your braid looks fabulous too!

genkitummy said...

your braid looks and sounds delicious!

Ben said...

Excellent job. No wonder it didn't last long with the gang. Thank you for baking with us :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Love your savory filling, fabulous!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I love your tittle! You had such wonderful ideas for your fillings, that now you'll have to make a lot of braids to make them all! Smoked salmon was a great choice and sure paired well with the flavours of the dough!

Tiffany said...

Wow! What interesting fillings. Sounds great!!!

Tartelette said...

Well dang! That is just brilliant...but then you have to tease me with a "maybe chorizo"...argh!!! Great job!

JMom said...

I am definitely going to try a savory version of this braid! I am still visiting other daring bakers and I am getting so many ideas for savory, yours included.

Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

Molly Loves Paris said...

I love your filling idea, but what did you spice the cream cheese with? I so should have let my braid sit over-night raising. Who knows, it might have risen.

farida said...

Hi Dolores, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I am here to check your blog out:) It's nice and yummy! I just subscribed to you to read more from you.

Oh, BTW, your Danish Braid looks delicious!! Great job!

familiabencomo said...

Mmmm.... I love savory & sweet together. How wonderful! AND, even better that it was quickly devoured. Your braid looks so light, flaky & perfect. Great job!

xoxox Amy

littlelisa said...

Beautiful braid! Seems almost a pity that it disappears so quickly after so much time making it... almost... (still worth it, I think).