Tag Archives: dessert

Daring Bakers June Challenge

The “Danish Braid”

Hooray!  While staying with some family friends I was able to finagle my way into the kitchen and complete this challenge!  We were at the beach for my mom’s best friend’s daughter’s wedding (that’s a mouthful) and stayed with the bride’s family in their beach house for a week of vacation.  It was so relaxing – I would sit on the back porch every morning with a cup of coffee and watch all kinds of wildlife take over the marsh.  Every now and then I’d also catch a dunking contest held in the pool basketball court:

Not the best picture (macbook photobooth) but you get the idea.  And check out that pedicure sunset!

I digress.  Back to business.

Much thanks to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for hosting this month’s challenge.  And a challenge it was!  Not to say that the process was painful, but it took me a good two days to get through the entire process.  When you read the recipe, you’ll see why:

Original Recipe from Sherry Yard’s “The Secrets of Baking”

(Please not that this recipe does not include my alterations – I’ll discuss those further on.)

DANISH DOUGH

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
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

DOUGH
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly 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.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

BUTTER BLOCK
1.    Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment 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.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.  (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.  After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

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.

Egg Wash
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 (Pam…) 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.

My Alterations

For the butter, I substituted Earth Balance vegan spread.  I considered using half margerine and half vegetable shortening to achieve flakiness, but I was too lazy awesome to buy shortening.  I really think it would have improved the texture since the danish was rather bread-y and dense.  For the whole milk I used soy creamer, but I think regular soy milk would have been just fine.  I wasn’t able to use cardamom or vanilla beans because at $15.00 a jar for each I may as well have handed my credit card over to the cashier and asked her to just keep it.  For the eggs I substituted corn starch.  Yeeeah not the most genius move, but I was on an island and the grocery store didn’t even have soy yogurt (which I would have LOVED).  I am curious what would have happened with a flax meal substitute too.  The process involved a lot of hanging around, waiting for things to chill and proof.  It was pretty exciting seeing how much the dough rose during the two hours of proofing – kind of like watching plants grow in hyperspeed.  Oh, and let’s discuss what a squidgy mess the beurrage turned out to be.  There were buttery guts all over the counter throughout my dough-baby’s various turns.  Beside the buttery gore, everything came together pretty painlessly.

For the filling, I used the normal apple recipe with an almond frangipane and. it. was. AMAZING.  I would have just ladled that stuff into my mouth all day without a care for filling anything had I no sense of responsibility.  I have half a sense of responsibility, therefore I only ate half the recipe.  Oops?  I also made a few croissants and pinwheel danishes with the leftover dough and filled some with raspberry jam, frangipane, and some with chocolate.  Nomnom.

My gracious hosts put up with me hoarding their kitchen utensils and banging pots and pans for two days and graciously devoured the danish when the kitchen returned to peace.  So the recipe had a great response!  I can’t wait to check out what my fellow vegan bloggers did with this recipe and how it turned out.

She’s Such a Tart

In the midst of a week break from travelling, I was graciously put up by my boyfriend’s parents in their New York apartment.  I was given free reign in the kitchen!  I ate gloriously!  One of my favorite things (that I actually managed to get pictures of) that I made was a raw fruit tart/pie.  I got the idea somewhere on the internet, but I essentially tossed a bunch of stuff together.  Hopefully I can remember how all this went down.

Raw Fruit Tart

Recipe

Ingredients

1 8 inch pie pan

2 C almonds

1 C chopped medjool dates

2 mangoes

1/4 C coconut flakes

About 2 C halved strawberries – enough to cover the top of the tart

Directions

  • Blend the almonds and the dates together a handful at a time in a chopper – I used some sort of crazy Cuisinart chopping device I found lurking in a cabinet.
  • Press almond/date mixture down into the pie pan, making sure to cover the sides of the pan.
  • Peel, chop, and blend mangoes until they have an even consistency.
  • Stir coconut flakes into mango.
  • Scoop mango mixture into your pie crust, spreading it out evenly with a spatula.
  • Place sliced strawberries (or any fruit of your choosing) decoratively over the tart.
  • Chill the tart in a refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Best served chillllled out.

After much struggle with grinding almonds and dates together – this was the end result.  Hooray!  It was delicious, and I didn’t have to feel bad about eating it for breakfast the next day.  Yessss.  I also managed to make an AMAZING pasta-less lasagna (casserole?) with eggplant, spinach, and mushrooms.  I made the dish twice and didn’t get a good photo of it either time – thanks night time photography.  However, check out this dip I made for some crusty olive bread:

That’s some roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and pepper – I let it marinate in its own sauciness before serving it and it was gooood.

The City Stole My Blog

Sorry to all for the abrupt halt in my blogging – this job and this city take up a lot more time than I expected! I haven’t had my camera on me to take pictures of meals at restaurants out of vanity’s sake. I feel like lugging around my huge camera will be quickly followed by large maps, shorts with socks and sneakers, and a nice hot pink fanny pack. I have, however, been making my rounds on the vegan spectrum of New York City. I’ve been to Sacred Chow, Gobo, and Caravan of Dreams. Also, the Whole Foods near me has a (really really exciting) shelf of vegan desserts that change every day. Please behold my favorite breakfast since I’ve been in the city – Sweet & Sara Peanut Butter Smore.

Nothing like some real power fuel for a run through Central Park.  It was wonderful!!  As a kid, I was really gross and would make s’mores in the microwave.  That’s right.  So I clearly have some kind of addiction to the chocolate, marshmallow, graham cracker combination.  Add peanut butter into the mix and you have me, face down on the floor, in a foodjoy coma.  Sweet & Sara slammed me down on first bite.  The chocolate coating was thick and had a great bite to it.  The graham cracker was pretty crumbly, but the gooey marshmallow held on to all the crumbs.  If anything, I would ask for more (moremoremore!) peanut butter, but the thin layer inside added a decadence to the whole shebang.  Sure, it was a pricey endeavor (almost 5 dolla bills y’all), but it was worth every swoon bite.

A Pie By Any Other Name Tastes Just As Sweet

Aw, nuts.

So here’s the deal. In Kentucky, my official homestate, there’s a Derby. A horse race. A gathering of people in large hats holding mint juleps. This all goes down at Churchill Downs in Louisville. There are several recipes originating from Kentucky, including the Kentucky Hot Brown, Burgoo, and Kentucky Bourbon Balls. None of these recipes hold a candle (at least in my mind) to the gooey, rich, sticky mess that is Derby Pie.

BUT WAIT!

I am not allowed to call this recipe Derby Pie. No one is. No one except for the sweet people at Kern’s Kitchen in Louisville. These clever folks managed to PATENT the recipe originating at the Melrose Inn of Prospect, Kentucky. They have a pie, yes a PIE, registered with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It’s really kind of incredible. So thanks to the creators of this pie, I bring you a veganized version of:

Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie

Nom nom nom

Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 batch of Pate Brisee or your favorite pie crust

2 C chopped pecans

1 1/2 C vegan chocolate chip

1/4 C soy milk

2 eggs worth of egg replacer (I just used corn starch since I was away from home and my kitchen full o’ goodies)

1/4 C bourbon

3/4 C maple syrup

1/2 t salt

Directions

  • Prepare your pie crust and let cool for several hours.
  • Preheat your oven for 350 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together soymilk and egg replacer.
  • Throw into the soymilk mixture the bourbon, syrup, and salt, and mix thoroughly.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts and pour into your pie crust.
  • Bake until pie sets. It should take 40-45 minutes.

I am used to traditional recipe for this pie, and damned if this wasn’t as good or better than that! I might be cruisin’ for a bruisin’ with that statement, but California is a long flight from Kentucky and I doubt anyone is going to hop on a plane to come ‘git’ me. I did learn some valuable information from making this pie:

  • I don’t need eggs
  • I don’t need butter
  • I don’t need sugar
  • I don’t need milk
  • … to put myself into a sweet pie induced coma.

Luckily I got to serve this thang to a bunch of vegans in Olympia at a wonderful potluck hosted by the generous Jayne. I had a really rough couple of weeks, work-wise, and was invited to spend some chill time at my parents home in Washington – so I flew up for a long weekend. I had the pleasure of forcing my way into a PPK Potluck while there! I have come to the broad generalization that vegans are great people. Period. Everyone brought food that was SO GOOD and I somehow managed to sample almost everything, as is made obvious by this red handed moment:

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Cake! Donuts! Twix! Peanut butter chocolate chip bars! Tofu scramble! Mac n cheeze! Shortly after this picture was taken, I developed a massive headache from indulgance – so worth it. Apparently, I missed out on a Scrabble game by leaving early which means the day was not AS awesome as it could have possibly been, but it was up there. Meeting everyone was great – it’s good to know other West Coast-y vegans are out there.

I’ve got a stockpile of photos and recipes I need to post so expect to be bombarded in the coming week.

Ladies Tea Party in the Park

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The other day, I recieved a package in the mail from my mom full of chocolate and pens topped with bunnies and plastic eggs. I scratched my head, wondering what game we were playing that involved mailing one another sweets and baby animals and went out to find a raccoon to FedEx back to her. After disguising myself under piles of garbage and hiding in a dumpster for an hour or five, I decided the lasting stench wasn’t worth it and carried myself home in the early morning light. Much to my surprise, when I arrived back at my apartment, there were hoards of small people rifling through my yard. I don’t like when neighbors trample our roses, so I ran screaming into the yard – flinging banana peels and cereal boxes along the way. How dare someone enter my private property to loot flowers – and on a Sunday morning! It was then, with the dozen or so sobbing tots dispersing in a mass flee and the hoard of angry looking adults encroaching on my personal space, that I remembered what holiday it was. And I thought Easter was in April?

What better way to recover from such a jarring realization than to hold a fancy ladies’ tea party in the park!? OK, the truth is I DID forget it was Easter and planned a tea party on Saturday without that knowledge – but it became an Easter-themed party anyway!

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The whole shabang complete with Green Jasmine and Peach teas.

I made currant scones from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. This was my first time using this cookbook, and I was not disappointed! The scones I made are really small -roughly the size of a golf ball – and the tiny currants and cinnamon made them a perfect companion to afternoon tea.

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I also made my first pie from scratch! This is a Blueberry Lemon Pie based on Veganyumyum’s Cherry Lime Pie. The Sound of Music was on television, so I whipped out my apron and felt like a serious domestic goddess rolling out chilled pie dough and prancing around my kitchen table with Julie Andrews.

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The only thing I changed about the pie was, well … guess. I think next time I will half the sugar, only because after eating the pie I was able to run my PR time on a 5K distance. Guess we know what I’ll be eating next time a race comes around! Just call me shakey!

Finally, I made some *presh* chocolate birds nests with marzipan eggs. These were so cutesy I nearly shed a tear. I basically melted a chocolate bar and mixed in some crumbled Weetabix, formed them into nests in a mini-muffin pan and let them chill out. I made the marzipan eggs using food coloring and marzipan. Eeeeasy, bro.

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Ain’t no robins in here!

I put out some real food too, including carrots with hummus and crackers spread with Tofutti cream cheese and an olive tapenade – only to pretend that I’m an adult who doesn’t eat pie and chocolate for every meal (What, mom? I swear I don’t).

It was such a gorgeous day that we decided to document it. We have made plans to turn this into an official ladies’ club and do lovely feminine things all the time now. And some not so feminine – midnight bike rides anyone?

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Tree climbing commenced shortly after tea. I’m in the hat. Jay-Z told me hats are so necessary.

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More beautiful tea party ladies!