Hi All, it's Jane writing today - post day for the Daring Bakers. This month's challenge was a Danish Braid. As some of you may have realized, I begged off last month's challenge, an Opera Cake. My fellow Alternative DBs did the challenge proud; however, I simply couldn't face another buttercream. But the waiting was worth it, I was thrilled with this month's offering. Lane has always loved pastry, however, that's been off the menu for us since we've been vegan. I'm sure the vegan bakeries in Los Angeles have plenty of pastry options, however, we're not really near any of them, and don't need to be making special trips for goodies.
I always suspected that pastry would be something easy to "veganize," after all, my pie crust hasn't suffered a bit in the transition. I had just never tried pastry before. I made the assumption that it would be incredibly difficult to make. I was wrong. It's time consuming, but fun.
I'd gotten a sense of security from all the posts on the alternative DB board. Most of the vegan bakers seemed to have a positive experience. The gluten-free people had a tougher time of it, as you can imagine! But most people were reporting successes, even if the process wasn't textbook perfect. So when I actually started laminating my dough (a technique where you roll "butter" into the dough) I was surprized that I didn't have any of the difficulties I'd read about and expected -- dough too sticky, butter exploding out of the dough... Everything went swimmingly, my single folds and double book folds were almost perfectly aligned. Not bad for a first try! I left the dough in the fridge overnight and went to bed.
Today I needed to assemble the filling, roll out the dough, fill and braid, and bake. We were supposed to fill one braid with an apple concoction and the other with the filling of our choice. I bought the Fuji's as directed, even though they're not in season here now. They didn't taste as sweet as usual, and I wasn't really happy with the apple filling. So, for the second braid, I used a triple berry jam, and vegan cream cheese. This was a very satisfying pastry to make. I enjoyed the process, I enjoyed the end results. But it's not something you're going to throw together a few minutes before you're company is coming!
We shared this with our omnivorous cousins, and they loved it. They asked me to make it with blueberries next time. I was also thinking it might be good with the lemon curd from the vegan lemon meringue pie we made in the January challenge... (Lane's liking that idea.)
I will definitely make this recipe again, but I'll make a few changes. The recipe directed us to mix the dough for 5 minutes after incorporating all the ingredients. I've never done that before in making any type of dough. I'm not an expert, but I thought you weren't supposed to "overmix" as you make things too tough. My dough was a tad chewy, so next time, I will only mix until things are incorporated. Also, I don't think the orange zest/juice in the dough recipe added anything to the pastry, so I'll omit them next time as well, and maybe the cardamom too. They added a nice taste to the pastry, but I made croissant with the leftover dough, and that didn't work. And finally, if I have the time, I'll try to make individual danishes. I'm really glad Kelly and Ben selected this recipe as our challenge. I would have never tried to make this on my own, and now I have a wonderful new dessert in my repertoire.
Note: I skipped the egg wash (of course), so my pastry wasn't shiny. No one missed it!
-- Cheers, Jane