If I can't get the whipped cream 'fuzz' off my lens, I might be shopping for a new camera.
These weren't just any apples, either - they were the last batch from the apple tree in the back yard, before it mysteriously died last year. These apples needed love and respect, and I think I've honored that. On Monday evening, I gave them a good rinse and began simmering them with a bit of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Once they cooled, I put them in the basement fridge until I could get the pastry dough made, which I did on Wednesday night. I'd been wanting to make some -real- pastry, and so I decided to go with danish dough. I used 1/5 of the recipe for danish dough from page 235 of Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. It tasted quite salty before I let it rise and rest overnight, and I was a bit worried - enough so that I even added in a little extra sugar. But, recipes can be deceiving, so I went with it.
I can't believe that this was the first time I'd rocked my KitchenAid's dough hook.
Yesterday afternoon, we took it out of the fridge, and BB beat out the butter for the roll-in while I rolled it into a rectangle. We rolled in the butter, and of course, she had to help.
We're going to have a talk about the need for ponytails while baking, because her hair's almost that long.
After giving it a four-fold, resting half an hour, splitting it, giving it a 3-fold, then another 3-fold half an hour after THAT, then even more resting, it was finally time to get to filling. Following the technique from the same book, on page 630, for what they call a 'Braided Coffee Cake' (not that I consider this to be a coffee cake in the slightest, since coffee cake is dense and has a crumbly topping), I cut some angled strips onto either side of the dough, keeping a big long patch in the middle, then filled it with apples and started to 'braid' it up by alternating sides as I folded the strips over the top.
It was kind of a pain to tack the ends together, but thankfully there wasn't a ton of leakage.
Once it was all finished, I had two huge loaves of apple danish, about 18 inches long each. They went into the proofing drawer of the oven for an hour and a half, and wow did they rise! I actually had to separate them onto two different baking sheets after the rise time, because while I expected SOME rising, my yeast was a little old and I didn't expect it to be that active.
It went from this....
to this! I guess that yeast was still pretty active after all.
Finally, it got a second egg wash, and went into the oven for around 35 minutes at 350. What came out really did amaze us, and we found ourselves picking at one of the loaves after dinner last night (the one that left us stuffed, and for which we had bananas foster as dessert - these are THAT tempting).
Tons of apple-filled deliciousness.
This stuff is absolutely divine. Even though the saltiness did decrease tremendously, I would definitely use a little less the next time around (and I've decreased it in the recipe below). The flakiness and texture of the dough is amazing, and the spiced apples are soft, but still have a tiny bit of bite to them. All in all, the perfect way to use the last apples from our dearly departed tree.
Danish Pastry Dough
creates about 2 lbs dough
- 362 g bread flour (12.8 ozs)
- 42 g sugar (1.45 ozs)
- 5.6 g instant yeast (0.6 ozs)
- 3 g salt (0.1 ozs)
- 34 g softened butter (1.2 ozs, about 1.5 tbsp)
- 74 g eggs (2.6 ozs, or one extra large egg)
- 168 mL milk (5.6 ozs, or 2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp)
- For the roll-in: 272 g chilled butter (9.6 ozs, or 2 sticks + 2.5 tbsp)
Mix together the dry and wet ingredients with a dough hook until well integrated. Transfer to a floured surface and let rise at 75 degrees or in a proofing drawer for two hours or until doubled in size. Punch down, roll out into a large rectangle, fold, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, to let gluten relax completely.
After overnight rest, pound out roll-in butter until pliable. If butter becomes warm, return to refrigeration and chill slightly. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, and spread the butter over half of the rectangle. Fold the dough over, press out any air bubbles, and pinch the ends together, then roll out and do a four-fold (fold each end into the middle, then fold at the middle like a book). Return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then roll out again, and do a three-fold (as if folding a letter for an envelope). Chill in the refrigerator another 30 minutes, do a second three-fold, then refrigerate 30 more minutes.
Roll out the chilled dough and shape and fill as desired on parchment paper. Once shaped/filled/etc, coat with egg wash and place in a proofing drawer or warm place and let rise for 90 minutes at 85 degrees. After rising, add another coat of egg wash, and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Total cook/prep time: 16 hours - 30 minutes to mix, 2 hour rise, 30 minutes shape/roll/wrap, 8 hours rest, 3 hours roll-in and fold, 90 minute rise, 30 minute bake. It's less time than it sounds!
Family happiness rating: 10/10. This stuff isn't going to last long.