Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Danish Braid - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 43rd installment. The recipe is Danish Braid.
What a fun recipe to bake! I really liked trying some techniques that were new to me, including the low-effort flaky pastry (food processor plus simple rolling and folding), and the microwave fruit jam and confectioner's cream fillings.  I made raspberry and cream filling, which was delicious.  Another practical aspect of this recipe: you can prepare it mostly the day before, get up in the morning at a reasonable hour, shape and bake the braid, and still have your fancy pastry for breakfast (rather than brunch).

I didn't watch a video of this, so I was a bit clueless on the filling quantities, and I think I used a bit too much of the fruit filling.  The recipe did say "you might not need all the filling", but I wasn't clear on how much was too much, until I did it.  I also think my cream filling wasn't quite thickened enough, because the two fillings ran all over the place when I was shaping it (the pretty photo is above, and the scary photo is below :-):

It did bake up pretty well (although with a bit of burning sugar smoke coming from the liquid on the parchment) and held together once it was cool.  I wasn't quite sure how to close off the ends - I think that next time I would leave a little space within filling, so I can fold it over better.

One warning to anyone who hasn't tried this yet - you need to chill the pastry dough overnight before rolling and folding, and then again after rolling and folding, so some planning is in order.  I had not planned ahead very much, and didn't have time to do the first overnight chilling. I did let it go for 6 hours in the fridge, so it was quite cold when I got to rolling and folding it, and it seemed to be a bit soft, but not too difficult to roll.  I did wonder if the yeast would have developed more if I had left it longer in the fridge.

Fortunately I made the full recipe of dough, and put half in the freezer, so I will have another shot at perfecting this :-)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

X Cookies - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 42nd installment. The recipe is X Cookies.

This recipe was very easy, in the sense that it went exactly as described in the book. You blend the filling in the food processor: figs, apricot jam, almonds, raisins, orange peel, and a little bit of chocolate...yummy. What did the original Sicilian bakers do without a Cuisinart? Big knives and lots of chopping? Mortar and pestle?  I'm a big fan of dried fruit, so this was right up my alley.

Dough and filling pieces before rolling
The dough also came together easily and was easy to work with. I used a ration of 1/4 lard to 3/4 butter - I had enough lard for the whole thing, but thought the lard might overwhelm the flavor if I used only that.
I enjoyed the technique of rolling out flat strips of dough, and then wrapping them around the rolled out pieces of filling to get a long skinny roll of filled dough.  I applaud whoever wrote these instructions (Dorie?), because I was actually able to follow them without watching the video, even down to the reminder to run a flat knife or spatula under the rolled out dough strip to make sure it didn't stick.
Cookies before baking

The end result is delicious - I think the filling is inspired, because of the combination of flavors.  Maybe not the new favorite cookie for the kids in the household, due to the paltry amount of chocolate, but I definitely want to make these again.