Daring Bakers - Challenge TWO!

Edit: Thanks for all the comments DaringBaker guys/gals! ;D

And the challenge for month of June is ... *drum roll* ... Danish Braid !!

Logged onto the DaringBakers site and WHAM got hit by this big big big ugly momma. Laminated dough! No! I suck at breads! And this is a hard one! Ah. What the hell. I gotta do what I gotta do.

A Danish braid is a bread made from a laminated dough. Laminated doughs are doughs formed by alternating layers of dough and butter that puff up during baking (like croissants). Super tasty. And super hard.

And so began my laborious task of making a pretty Danish braid without burning the kitchen down. I knew attempting to bake bread (or ANYTHING for that matter) in my moody hormonal uneven pizzetta faux-oven was sure to end in disaster, but yet again, I ignored the Baking God and was struck down in shame.

A baker is meaningless without his oven. Sigh! Anyway, let's once again, go through my sad baking adventures. Onward! To healing!

Started to form the dough. Very interesting ingredients used, such as the orange rind you can clearly see above. Smelt wonderful. So far.

Another aromatic ingredient used was cardamom! One of my favourite spices because it gives ghulab jamuns their delicious taste. I thought, "Hey! I'm pretty hardcore! I make my own cardamom powder!"

Too bad modern technology could not penetrate the tough husks of dried cardamom. Food processor FAIL. What am I going to do now?? I know!

Edit (26/7/08) : Aparna kindly pointed out that you're not supposed to grind the husks of the cardamom, but remove them and just grind up the seeds in the pods. Thanks Aparna!

Reach under the sink and wake the beast from its slumber! The mighty giant mortar and pestle, long retired by my mother once she bought a blender, still as tough as ever. Let's see what I could do with it...

*Pound, BASH, crush*. No wonder my mum's punches hurt so much. This crap takes serious muscle! My arms ache and my fingers are numb but hey presto! Cardamom powder! HARDCORE STYLE!!

Wonderful isn't it? Totally not worth the effort. LUL.

And so I rolled out my dough for the first time...

...covered 2/3 of it with butter...

...and folded it up! First finger-dent.

Rested it for a while in the fridge, then repeated the folding process. Two finger dents for two folds! So far 9 layers!

Third fold. Clearly not so excited anymore. Very tired. No more happy finger dents for you Mr Laminated Dough. Hmph.

At this point, the dough warped into something much more than gluten, developed the capacity to think for itself, and decided to start the First Dough-laponic War. Bread rebelled against humans for the first time! "NO!" it cried, "I REFUSE TO ROLL OUT TO 1/4 inch THICKNESS!" and the dough continuously pulled back into a fat blob no matter how much it was rolled out seriously annoying its unhappy creator.

And so I gave up! Baking time!

Mistake No. 1 - dough too thick. Mistake No. 2 - number of cuts on the left should equal number of cuts on the right. DAH. STUPID ME. God. Anyway. Filled it with jam. Should have stopped there, but I stuffed it with custard too. Greedy me.

Ok. Leaking. Bad sign. Abort abort. Clearly an omen that something bad was about to happen. Even the braid was unravelling (due to uneven number of braid-thingies).

Lifted braid onto baking sheet. GAH. Braid totally unravelling already! I told myself, never fear! Something magical will happen and it will cook beautifully!

Well guess what? Something magical did happen...


Well, total disaster number one. Dough didn't even cook on the inside and it exploded everywhere. Note to self: make tighter braids, and don't use shonky wet fillings. Sigh.

I had some leftover dough, so I tried again. Lucky it rolled out a bit thinner this time, but I didn't have quite enough to make a tight braid.

And so it exploded again. Into a demon millipede.

Fail number 2. Looks quite cool if you ask me LOL.

Anyway, then Baking Spirit pitied me and told me, "Oh foolish child! Do try one more time! Surely happiness awaits!" to which I said, "HAHA WTF ARE YOU?" and threw pixie dust at it.

Yet, I tried again, using what little dough I had left, to try and make something, some sort of evidence that I was worthy of being a Daring Baker, and then, magically out of the oven emerged...

...a thing of beauty.


madcapcupcake 30 June 2008 at 3:17 am  

Ok, may I quote you?..."I knew attempting to bake bread (or ANYTHING for that matter) in my moody hormonal uneven pizzetta faux-oven was sure to end in disaster, but yet again, I ignored the Baking God and was struck down in shame"...that was just brilliant :) I bet the danish was delicious...and the little one at the end is beautiful.

Clumbsy Cookie 30 June 2008 at 3:45 am  

Do you know what? I love the look of your second braid! I think it's so cute, even if it exploded! Your last pastry is gorgeous!

jillian 30 June 2008 at 4:18 am  

The last pastry does look really pretty :)

Janet 30 June 2008 at 4:32 am  

Very funny!! Nicely written.

The initial images of rolling the beautiful dough were really great. I didn't expect the explosion at all!


Rebecca 30 June 2008 at 6:13 am  

Ha ha! Even if your experience was a disaster, it gave me a good giggle on a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and hardcore cardamom?! Love it!

Sarah 30 June 2008 at 6:13 am  

Great writing! Your braids look like they TASTE great even if they exploded a bit, and that last mini pastry is a beauty!


PS I too used a mortar and pestle to bang up my cardamom, though mine were seeds (I think, they definitely weren't pods) so it wasn't quite the same struggle!

Natashya 30 June 2008 at 8:49 am  

It's great that you stuck with it, that's what it's all about. I am sure it tasted great anyway. Most people complained that they didn't put enough filling. You were the only one to feel that you had too much! Great work.

tinha 30 June 2008 at 10:14 am  

Hahaha Oh God, I'm so happy I'm not the only one that had a hard time with the dough. I had a workout session trying to open it during the turns.
But after all, the taste it's what matters the most...

Jo 30 June 2008 at 10:35 am  

LOL .. can't help it. You've made my Monday morning! It's the "doing" that count and no worries - next time it'll turn out great.

Lorrie 30 June 2008 at 10:58 am  

you're hilarious! I'm sure it tasted wonderful!

Meredith 30 June 2008 at 11:08 am  

I'm glad it all worked out in the end. They can't all be perfect can they?

Tarah 30 June 2008 at 1:02 pm  

Ahaha, reading your post made me giggle :P

Your hilarious!

And even though your dough had a temper and exploded on you, I bet it still tasted good.

And in my opinion, take two looks fuckin awesome!

Rachel 30 June 2008 at 1:37 pm  

Isn't the taste that matters more than the look of it..I love the spirit ...I would have given up...

dobetter 30 June 2008 at 2:14 pm  

Hilarious! Glad to know I wasn't the only one to count incorrectly. Your final picture is fantastic. Well done!

Ben 30 June 2008 at 10:44 pm  

I think you did a great job, that's what being a DB is all about, right?

Thank you for baking with us :)

Aparna 1 July 2008 at 2:47 am  

Its not too bad, Ahmad. Your braid looks very colourful.:)And your single Danish has more than made up for the braid.
If the dough strips aren't long enough, the braid tends to open up in the oven.
Btw, you need to open up the cardamom pods, take out the seeds and then powder them in the mortar. The outer skin is discarded.

Ruth 1 July 2008 at 7:15 am  

Im sure it still tasted great and the little danish you made looks like a jewel!

breadchick 1 July 2008 at 11:41 am  

So jealous of your fresh ground cardamom. Well done on your "millipede"!

Amber 1 July 2008 at 3:58 pm  

Demon ribcage and demon millipede? You are too funny. I will angle cut my braid next time like you did. I do believe taste matters more than perfection and I hope you shared them with friends and family. Congrats!

amazonmidwife 2 July 2008 at 8:36 am  

You need your own cooking show---with all the self-deprecating snark as well as the triumphs. I *so* would watch it. Think of all the ad revenue---you'd never need do uni maths again!

Now...if I just knew some TV mogul. :(

prettytastycakes 2 July 2008 at 10:13 am  

Great job documenting the process. Your danish braid adventure gave me a good laugh. At least you got one jewel out of it. :)

shellyfish 3 July 2008 at 5:12 am  

Your post was hilarious! I'm sorry about your problems! But snaps to you for grinding your own cardamom- rock on! And your final attempt is 100% perfect!

Claire 4 July 2008 at 7:13 am  

Such a beautiful "jewel" at the end. Great job!

Jen Yu 4 July 2008 at 11:19 am  

Demon ribcage? That is AWESOME! I just noticed your previous post and I got so excited!!! I can't wait for DIII :) Anyway, your braid, or demon rib cage, still looks really impressive! Great job!

Ahmad 5 July 2008 at 11:17 pm  


*Goes all starry-eyed.*

Oh I got my math mark back haha. Turns out they do some sort of mark scaling and even though i totally failed it got scaled to a credit! Win!

Dolores 13 July 2008 at 3:08 am  

I dunno... I think your demon ribcage looks kind of cool, in an artsy sort of way. What are the buzzwords right now? Rustic? Artisan? Your braids fit right in!

And thanks for the entertainment... I love the way you write.

maybelles parents 15 July 2008 at 11:43 am  

love the danish.

adli 20 July 2008 at 3:11 pm  

my god.. love the demon ribcage! :) gearing up for D3 eh? i can't wait either... wee~ on to the next challenge!!!!