Since Val of More Than Burnt Toast was the winner of the Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge for October, she got to choose an optional bonus recipe for all the bloggers to try out. I was kind of happy inside when I saw that Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish was Val’s selection. I go in and out of Cheese Danish obsessions from time to time where I crave one every day. Taste wise, I love when this particular obsession hits. Weight wise… um, not so much!
The word “easy” is in the title of this recipe and I found out that Ina does not lie. Frozen puff pastry is one of the best culinary conveniences in the world. Without a product like this, we’d be chilling, folding, chilling and folding dough in our kitchens for hours on end. While it’s very satisfying to actually pull off making pastry doughs, sometimes it’s great to just catch a break. Love you, Pepperidge Farm! (Tip: just remember you have to plan to leave yourself about 45 minutes to thaw the dough out first.) The cheese filling is made up of a few ingredients that you simply mix together in your mixing bowl. After assembly and one 15 minute chilling period, you’re 20 minutes away from breakfast. I would recommend making these the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the oven and bake.
Changes I made: used dried lemon zest instead of fresh, used low fat cream cheese and ricotta, and vanilla bean paste.
I made these for a Sunday morning breakfast in bed for my boyfriend. Awww, aren’t I sweet? They went over really well. There was a *tad* too much puff pastry around the edges for me, so next time I would spread the cheese filling out a bit more. Other than that one tiny personal complaint, these were awesome!!
And with that, the October Bonus Recipe is complete. Tonight, I plan on catching up on the Butternut Squash Risotto that I missed a couple of weeks ago. Make sure you stop by More Than Burnt Toast to see what Val had to say about her choice. Then make your way over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see what everyone else is up to.
Ina Garten’s Easy Cheese Danish
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!
Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10×10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 Danish
Here we have my second Daring Bakers challenge. The first one, Opéra Cake, certainly posed various challenges for me. So I was curious to see how I would fare on the June 2008 selection, which turned out to be a Danish Braid chosen by Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking?.
Danish Pastry is a “laminated” dough, which means that it’s made up of dough and butter layers. There are two components – Detrempe: ball of dough and Beurrage: a butter block. The dough is rolled out in to a rectangle and folded up into thirds like a business letter. This “turn” of the dough is performed four times with 30 minutes of chilling time in between each turn and a final chill time of at least five hours before filling and braiding the dough.
I had no problems making the dough or shaping the braid. I decided to use a filling of Orange Cream Cheese Filling and an Orange Blueberry Sauce. This happened by accident because I thought I was using Vanilla Extract for the cream cheese filling but after I poured it in, realized I had used Orange instead. No worries though.
Update: I did make another mistake that I realized late last night. I never adjusted the oven temp down to 350 after the 10 minute mark….
The filling leaked out a lot but I thought presentation wise it was beautiful. And it tasted as good as it looked to me. It was a long road to get it finished in terms of all the waiting in between each step, but this was a really fun challenge. This is not something I ever would have attempted on my own and as I was finished and enjoying a piece of the final product, I was proud of myself for being able to pull it off. Stop by the Daring Bakers blogroll to see all of the different Danish Braid creations by other members. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for July!
From Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Combine yeast and milk in a bowl and mix on low speed. 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.
1. Combine butter and flour in a bowl 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.
Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups filling, jam, or preserves
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.
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 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.