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.


Engineer Baker said...

Isn't redemption sweet? I'm glad you finally got a handle on this dough. I'm curious as to why instant worked better, or was it just that the dough cooperated better this time around?

Anonymous said...

Wow, you and I traveled the same path... I too had same results initially, and I was told of using instant yeast for the 2nd. It was well worth the mistakes though, wasn't it. Beautiful braids 2nd go round!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I used instant yeast for my braids and mine didn't rise! But I think your experience illustrates a principle I really believe in: keep baking over and over, if if you don't exactly know what went wrong. It will just get better, magically. Both of your braids look wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Your braid looks really good. I'm glad it came out better for you this time. Kudos on making it twice.

Jen Yu said...

Wow, good on ya for doing the challenge TWICE! That's a DARING Baker :) Great job on your braids and hurray for getting it truly right!

Unknown said...

Beautiful job! Glad you figured out what was "off" the first time.

Anonymous said...

Braids look wonderful, and what better testament than no crumbs left?

I'm really intrigued by your instant yeast experiment. I will have to try that, too, since I wasn't too pleased with the rise of my braid.

Mari said...

Well done for giving it another go! I know that feeling, sometimes you just have to do it!