Everywhere you look today it's Danish Pastry. Why? Because Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking? selected Danish Braids for the Daring Bakers June challenge. Both Kelly and Ben thought the selected recipe, from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking, would be a great way to introduce the rewards of laminated dough. Danish pastries are in the same family as puff pastry, so this challenge was a great jumping off place for those of us who (thankfully) missed the croissant challenge.
Every month's challenge has a few strict guidelines and some areas left open to each baker's own interpretation and preferences. Kelly and Ben asked that we follow the recipe for the dough to the letter, but encouraged us to use whatever fillings we'd like. We also had to make at least one braid--the recipe yields enough dough for two braids, and we were free to do whatever we liked with the second half of the recipe.
I loved this challenge and this recipe. The dough itself is made with ground cardamom and orange zest, which imparted the most heavenly smell to our apartment (Jack gets kudos for grinding whole cardamom pods for me in a mortar). I made one braid early in the month and froze the rest of the dough while I mulled over what I'd do with it. Ultimately I loved the braid so much that I just made a second one. I really wish I had doubled the recipe, so that I could say I still have some of that fabulous pastry in my freezer!
For my filling I used Rhubarb-Orange Marmalade and a simple confectioner's cream gleaned from watching Beatrice Ojakangas demonstrate on Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs. The finished results were mouth-wateringly delicious!