Apple pecan danish braid

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I have been listening to a bunch of great podcasts during the endless hours I spend commuting from Juhu to Dadar (For readers who are not from Bombay, a distance of 11 km or 6 miles approximately takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours because of traffic) which has been instrumental in me not slitting my wrists in the backseat of my Uber.  One of my favourite podcast is Science of Success and covers a range of topics from how to negotiate to paradox of happiness, based on years of research on human psychology. 

Recently, I heard one about creating memorable moments. The idea is that we all practice different rituals to mark  moments like birthdays, weddings, graduation but might miss a few other important ones. Like starting a new job or breaking up with a significant other. This leads to difficult transitions. Or we get stuck in routines and therefore the days sort of blur together. Our long term memory will only recall significant moments like your first kiss or the first time you moved to a new city. Therefore, its important to create moments to break the monotony or honour a change in your life. 

A friend is going through a divorce and I wanted to do something for her apart from lending an ear. I remember her wedding was an opulent affair which went on for days and yet only a few people awkwardly acknowledged her divorce which according to me was a big cause for celebration because her soon to be ex husband was a giant ass. So, I decided to have a little divorce party with a few of our close friends to let her vent and then all of us proceeded to get totally shit faced. Because you get divorced only once (hopefully, fingers crossed) and you need several pitchers of margarita to mark the end. And a whole string of curse words to toast.

I also made her this amazing apple danish braid to help her with the hangover the morning after. Or maybe it was for me since I crashed face first on her couch. Give this a go when you have two days to spare, it is a BIG baking project and only take this on if you want a challenge, are super bored or trying to celebrate an important day/event. I have included a detailed recipe below with clear instructions but because I do better with visuals, here is a link to help you with braiding the danish and another one to help you better understand how to seal the butter and do the double turns. Hope you guys give this a go, if for nothing else to break the monotony of routine.

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Apple frangipane danish braid

Danish dough

  • All purpose flour   570  gm
  • salt                7 gm
  • eggs              100 gm
  • milk               225 gm
  • SAF yeast    10 gm
  • sugar        55 gm
  • ground cardamom     a pinch
  • butter           340 gm

Apple filling-

  • Apples 170 gm
  • butter 115 gm
  • sugar 225 gm
  • lemon zest 4 gm
  • dark rum 55 gm 
  • cinnamon 3 gm
  • currants 170 gm
  • chopped pecan 170 gm

Almond frangipane-

  • Almond paste  455 gm
  • sugar 285 gm
  • butter, softened 455 gm
  • eggs 425 gm
  • lemon zest 2 gm
  • vanilla 13 gm
  • all purpose flour 140 gm
  • baking powder 4 gm

Sliced almonds for topping- 100 gms

Method for danish

  1. Whisk milk, yeast and eggs together in a bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.
  3. Mix on 1st speed with dough hook for 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to the bench and knead it by hand to tighten. Wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for an hour
  5. Flour parchment paper, chop butter lengthwise into roughly 115 gm pieces. Flour the butter lightly and cover with parchment paper. Beat with rolling pin to soften and flatten. Shape it into a rectangle. 
  6. Make sure the butter is roughly 2/3 the size of the dough. Keep corners intact
  7. Roll out dough to form a rectangle. Don't let the dough get more than 10-12 inches wide.
  8. Brush off the excess flour from the dough and mark about 2/3 of the dough. Place the butter on the 2/3 portion of the dough and trim any edges. The butter should be cold yet malleable (you might have to keep sticking in the fridge for short periods of time)
  9. Fold 1/3 of the dough over. Brush off flour and fold the other 1/3 over keeping the edges neat and tight. 
  10. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and flour it up. Hit the ends to seal the dough and bang it down. Roll the dough out, keeping the edges neat, tight and not too long or thin. The dough should be about 3 1/2 feet long.
  11. Brush off the flour and double turn. Sealing the two ends when you bring them to the middle. 
  12. Roll it out a little and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in fridge between turns if needed.
  13. Repeat the double turn. Flour the dough and triple wrap in plastic. Let dough rest overnight in refrigerator.

Method for frangipane

  1. Combine almond paste, sugar and softened butter in mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Beat in the eggs, a few at a time. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add the lemon zest and vanilla, stir to combine.
  4. Combine flour and baking powder and add to the mixing bowl beating on low speed, just until the flour is absorbed.

Method for apple filling

  1. Peel, core and cut apples into wedges.
  2. Place apples and all other ingredients into a large pan. Cook over medium heat, covered until the apples begin to soften.
  3. Uncover and continue to cook until liquid is evaporated.
  4. Chill until ready to use.

Method for danish braid and assembling

  1. Roll the dough to a 12 inch square and place on parchment lines sheet pan. Mark dough into 3 strips, each 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. Slash the two outermost strips diagonally at 1/2 inch intervals, making downward slashes.
  2. Spread frangipane on the centre strip. Top the frangipane with apple filling. Fold the slashes over the centre strip, alternating a slash from each side. Proof braid 50% in a warm place, for about an hour.
  3. Brush egg white on the pastry and strew with sliced almonds. Bake at 204 degrees C for about 15 minutes.  Let it cool for 30 minutes
  4. Slice and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.