Daring Alternative Bakers: Gluten-Free Apple or Plum Danish Dutch Braid Recipe

When I first saw this month’s Daring Baker challenge, I have to admit I felt some trepidation. After all, I’d never tried anything as complex as making a gluten-free “Danish Braid,” and to be honest, except for the braid part, I wasn’t quite sure what it was. Was a danish bread like yeast bread? Or was it more like pastry? Should I substitute chebe and hope for the best? It turned out that danish bread is a cross between yeast bread and pastry. According to the challenge, “Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered doughs.” Puff pastry is the most extreme example of laminated dough, but “danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, however, whereas puff pastry is not.” Our challengers said that while Danish dough wasn’t as difficult as puff pastry, the process of making it was delicate, and it was “a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated doughs in general.” Whew. Well, I sat out the last event due to a schedule conflict, but this recipe sounded appealing, if a little daunting. The trick would just be making it gluten-free. Luckily, the new Daring Bakers site has a forum for alternative bakers (both vegan and/or gluten-free) and I was able to read about the experiments of my peers. Many of their flour combinations sounded promising, but I was most drawn to Jeanine’s millet blend. I don’t do very well with millet, so when testing the recipe I tried one batch with teff flour, and another with quinoa flour. I liked both versions, but the teff is better if you like a brown “nutty” flavor, and the quinoa is better if you like a sweeter brown flour. The quinoa especially complimented the cinnamon apple filling, but ieither one was quite tasty. I was impressed to find the dough quite workable, although the layer of butter (Beurrage) tended too ooze out and make a mess. I rolled it out inside ziploc plastic bags and wrapped it up in saran wrap for chilling sessions, and that helped contain things somewhat. Also, I sprinkled my keynote flour (teff or quinoa) on the buttery parts as I rolled it out and that helped contained things somewhat. I was most excited when I rolled out the dough the last time and found that I had a dough that I could actually braid. It helped that I had rolled it out on parchment paper and was able to keep the dough on the parchment when I put it in the oven.

One of the fun parts of making any danish is deciding on a filling. Really, the possibilities are limitless. Here at our house, we are big fans of a traditional apple filling, and it compliments the cardamom dough so beautifully it was hard to resist. But, since I decided to make this recipe twice (in the interest of science, mind you), I felt that I really ought to experiment the second time around. Don’t get me wrong- I still made half of the second version apple ’cause it’s so darned good. But, I was also inspired by a recent Foodgawk sighting of Tartelette’s Plum and Rosemary Sugar tartelettes to try making half with a plum filling with rosemary sugar sprinkle. It was quite fortuitous really, since the only fruit I had in the house was apple and fresh plum, and I grow my own rosemary on the balcony! I also experimented with the lamination technique. An egg was was nice, although it ended up in extra eggs (No worries, I used them in a late-night omelet for the DH), but I wanted to try the dough sprinkled with seasoned sugar. For the apple danish, I was inspired by my Father-in-Law’s GF Norwegian Christmas Bread Recipe to sprinkle the dough with two parts sugar to one part cinnamon. I sprinkled the plum filling with Tartelette’s rosemary sugar. One note, though- wait until right before you are going to sprinkle the dough with sugar to combine them, as the moisture from the rosemary will cause the sugar to clump up a bit. Also, plums contain a lot of moisture, so you may want to drain them after slicing before using them as filling. I noticed that the plum mixture was fairly liquidy. The apple filling was also rather liquid according to the original recipe, so I added cornstarch and it was perfect.

When I brought the pastry over to DH for taste testing, he was enthused- and then he tasted the melty, sweet apple danish. To my surprise and delight, he loved it, and said he’d give it a “9.5 out of 10″ which is the highest rating he’s ever given out. The combination of cardamom pastry and cinnamon sugar made him think of Christmas, and he was completely enamored with the flaky, light dough. “I wouldn’t know it was gluten-free if you didn’t tell me,” he said, and I was thrilled. At last, a pastry that passed the glutenoid test! Of course, I absolutely loved the decadent and flaky pastry. The plum filling and rosemary sugar was a novel flavor combination, and went well with the pastry, although I might leave out the cardamom in the dough next time. The apple filling with fresh vanilla seeds was absolutely divine, especially with the cinnamon sugar topping and with extra apples.

This treat tastes the best the first day you make it, like most baked goods, but you can also refresh it by putting it in a toaster oven for ten minutes and letting it cool to room temperature the next day or even the third day. You know, almost every month when I see the Daring Baking Challenge I have to ask, “Wow, how am I going to do that with gluten-free flour?” Luckily I’m not on my own anymore, as I have my fellow alternative daring bakers to get suggestions from and learn from. Not only am I learning from my peers, but the recipes themselves turns out to be a huge learning experience. So far I’ve learned how to make a double layer cake, how to make (dairy-free) chocolate cheesecake pops, and how to make a gluten-free braid danish inspired by the best of Viennese cuisine. I can’t wait to see what we learn how to make next month!

Gluten Free Danish Bread Braid Recipe
Bread  Dessert  Dairy  European  
For the dough (Detrempe):
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup whole milk (I used milk infused with cardamom and saffron)
1/6 cup sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 large eggs, chilled
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 Tbsp. teff OR quinoa flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

*more teff or quinoa flour for dusting

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1/8 cup GF all-purpose flour (I used Rebecca Reilly’s blend with brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, but anything is fine)

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. Add the salt with the (combined) flours and xanthan gum and baking powder, 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 10 minutes.

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 10 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and 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 10 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, 1/4-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.

Makes enough for two braids

3 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a saut pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and saut until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If youve 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.

4 plums, pitted and sliced

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1/8 cup sugar

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
Warm milk
Cinnamon Sugar (Cinnamon and sugar, combined, to desired sweetness)

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, 1/4 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 youve already made.
3. Spoon the filling youve 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.

Cinnamon Sprinkle:
Coat the braid with warm milk and sprinkle with even but generous amount of cinnamon sugar.

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.


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28 Responses to “Daring Alternative Bakers: Gluten-Free Apple or Plum Danish Dutch Braid Recipe”

  1. For a non gluten flour – yours seem to have come out pretty well. Luks delish :) Great job at the challenge

  2. You did a fantastic job – you make gluten free baking look simple, and I know it’s not!! Your fillings sound scrumptious :) Really nicely done!

  3. Bravo to you for making it gluten free! And it looks great!

  4. Wow! What a challenge to make this gluten free and have it look so great! Congratulations!

  5. Fantabulastic! I am always impressed with you GF Daring Bakers. WTG! and glad I could be of little inspiration!

  6. Sea –
    This looks absolutely wonderful and delicious!
    I can’t wait to try your version.

  7. I can’t believe you managed to make this gluten free! Way to go! And the filling sounds delicious!

  8. I think you are EXTRA, EXTRA Daring. It was already scary, never mind adding gluten free to the mix. Great job!

  9. You did a fabulous job, your braid looks delicious :) I does taste better the first day, but I wouldn’t know because it was eaten the first day.

  10. You certainly handled that challenge well. I’m always so amazed at the energy that goes into taking a recipe and changing it up to suit a specific diet. I like the gluten free braid – well done.

  11. I’ve never thought of mixing plum and rosemary. thanks for the inspiration! and it looks lovely.

  12. Wow! Your braid looks amazing. Great flavour combinations!

  13. Well done! Your question regarding the photo collage, I used the Mosaic flickr toy: http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/mosaic.php

  14. [...] know it’s a bit early, but I have an exciting post for an apple/ plum danish coming up tomorrow and wanted to get this posted so it won’t be totally overshadowed by [...]

  15. DK- Hi! Thanks. Yep, it turned out great and we loved the recipe.

    Marika- Thank you for coming by! I’ll have to go check out your danish fillings- I bet they were great too!

    Shellyfish- Thanks! It was fun to make.

    clumbsycookie- I almost tried to make it dairy-free as well as gluten-free and then thought I’d better not. :) Next time, maybe. :)

    Tartelette- Thank you for the inspiration. I loved your photo as well… made me want to make a tart! :) Plums are the best.

    Kate- Thank you! I can’t wait to see yours as well.

    Jes- Thanks! I just wish there was some left. :)

    Lori- it was scary all right- but so satisfying when it turned out well! :D

    giz- Thanks! I’m used to adapting recipes but this one was a doozie!

    Cheryl Harris- It’s a combination sweeping the blogosphere, and it’s all thanks to Tartelette. :) It was quite, quite yummy.

    Lauren- Thanks! The filling is almost the most fun part- but it’s so hard to choose!

    Hi Zorra- Thank so much! I really appreciate the flickr toy reference, and will definitely check it out. Have a wonderful and delicious day!


  16. Wonderful job! :) I’d love to come down & taste either of them. This was a fun/exciting/challenging challenge, wasn’t it? I was terrified at first too, but with some testing, it was all figured out. I will definitely be making this dough again. Maybe even in the next day or two, since my vanilla beans have now come in. Can’t wait to help each other through the next challenge! :)

  17. Yum, plum! Your braid is gorgeous!

  18. Yours look more professionally than mine though to be fair my second looks much better having not been over proved but my camera is now broken:( Oh well will have to make a third batch to photograph once I sort the camera out.. oh what a shame. Plum and Rosemary sounds good and I too thought quinoa tasted really good, full and rich without being to aggressive.

  19. Your braids look so good. The plum rosemary filling is intriguing!

  20. You did a wonderful job on your danishes. I love your choices of filling too. Sounds scrumptious!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  21. What a fabulous looking gf version! It looks scrumptious.

  22. Excellent job on the GF version of the challenge this month!

  23. [...] broth. The cardamom saffron broth I made was so delicious that I ended up using part of it in my Gluten-Free Dutch braid recipe, and I even daydreamed about making it into cardamom ice cream or yogurt. But it’s [...]

  24. Your braid looks great! You would never be able to tell it is gluten free!! I’ll have to try this one out when my celiac cousin comes for christmas, she’ll love it.

  25. [...] a decadent, buttery dough recipe that isn’t quite as much effort as croissants? Try my Gluten-Free Apple or Plum Danish Braid Recipe (I am SO making this for a Christmas treat. It’s DH’s [...]

  26. Looks perfect for Christmas. As I lurve Danish, think I might try it with a veg. mincemeat filling, but I want to try your apple and vanilla too. Thanks!!! :)

    I can’t beleve how much we think alike. I had just finished writing a post about GF Pad Thai when I came here and saw your noodles. I’ll be posting it as soon as I make it again tonight and get a picture.

  27. [...] For the creme brulee I was inspired by my DH’s Norwegian heritage and my favorite recipe for a Daring Baker gluten-free Apple Danish to bake apple slices in a brown sugar-cardamom glaze and then immerse them in a rich, vanilla [...]

  28. Do you think its possible to make this without the egg?

    shell :)

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