Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Personal redemption, or, Danish Braid Redux
I have redeemed myself to myself.
For June's Daring Baker challenge, I made two Danish braids. All went according to plan, or so it seemed. The braids were easy to prepare, looked beautiful, and tasted delicious, but there was definitely something wrong with them. Something was nagging at me. They just didn't 'feel' right.
I studied the recipe again, and I studied other recipes, trying to figure out where the problem was. The most obvious one was that the final braid didn't rise as expected, which affected the texture of the braid itself. So, I decided to try it one more time. Since I needed a dessert for today's quilt meeting, anyway, I used that as an excuse to bake another braid.
Now, you'd think I was using two completely different recipes! Yes, all the ingredients were the same, except one. I used instant yeast instead of regular active dry yeast. But this time around, the texture of the dough was totally different, much slacker and softer. And, when I completed the various turns, I could see the butter in hunks within the dough. As a comparison, the first batch of dough was smooth and firm, and you couldn't see the bits of butter.
Well, I thought, if this one failed, it would matter all that much, because it would look good and taste good. But, then, that wasn't the point now, was it?
I chose the apple filling this time, since all my quilt friends have no issues with cooked fruit. I prepared the filling and the dough last night, then got up early this morning to shape and fill the braid.
The final change I made was to brush it with egg wash just before putting it into the oven rather than doing it earlier.
The braid was finished just as I had to leave, so it was truly fresh.
This time the braid was successful. The crumb or texture of the bread itself was right on the mark. (Photos were taken, but on my friend's camera, so hopefully, I will receive them later.) The final proof of success was that there was not one crumb left today. All my quilt friends demonstrated their strong belief in the clean plate club!
It will take me awhile to compare and analyze the two batches of braids, but now I have the 'feel' of the successful dough in my fingers, so I'm confident that future ones will turn out just fine.