I was not about to make the same mistakes I made with my very first Daring Baker challenge. I had most definitely learned my lessons last time and applied them whole heartedly with this new challenge. So on a Friday night before going to bed, I fully read the recipe, jotting down each time the dough required chilling. This helped me to calculate the total time needed to make this bread. I made out a bit of a schedule, made sure I had all the ingredients and set off on my baking adventure the following Saturday…during a fucking heat wave in DC.
Oh it was HOT! And I was going to turn on the oven?!?! Well no one said being a daring baker was going to be easy! The recipe was a bit time consuming BUT it was certainly not difficult. Especially with my nice little timeline and schedule in front of me. It also helped that I made sure the Diva wasn’t underfoot.
My plan was to make a strawberry and chocolate mascarpone cheese braid. I had these lovely strawberries from my CSA and I couldn’t resist using them. So I pulled out the dough I had started the previous evening (I am using the recipe from Sherry Yard’s The Secret of Baking) and rolled it out to the specified size.
Using a measuring tape I cleaned and sanitized, I measured out the strips that would constitute the braid, meticulously following the recipes instructions.
Finally, it was time for the filling. The chocolate mascarpone was easy enough to make (whisking together the cheese and cocoa powder with a hint of vanilla extract) and even easier to spread on the dough. I hulled and sliced the strawberries up, planning on simply placing them atop the mascarpone. Yes, it really did look beautiful.
I even put in a bit of corn starch after slicing up the strawberries to avoid the very problem that arose: a soggy mess.
Apparently, even with the cornstarch, the strawberries were too juicy. I won’t show you the picture I snapped of the braid coming out of the oven after I baked it. The pastry puffed up VERY nicely and the parts that weren’t drenched in strawberry juice were flaky. It’s a recipe I will definitely use again for those reasons alone. But I wasn’t to be deterred, so taking the remaining dough, I made a smaller braid using spiced apples instead.
Unfortunately, this one didn’t puff up as nicely as the strawberry braid. I suspect it was because of the small stature or the fact that I may have rolled it out too thin. Either way, my plan was to try again in the following weeks since I had so much time to complete it. In fact, I was going to make it this very weekend for a dinner party on Saturday evening.
However, and this is where the joking is put aside, I had to spend all of Saturday morning and afternoon at the vet’s office. Something we thought was an allergic reaction turned out to be the return of the Diva’s cancer (she survived a bout with it almost two years ago). The prognosis, sadly, is not very good but we will know more once she sees the oncologist. Needless to say, I didn’t feel much like baking or cooking Saturday night, so I missed a fabulous Barefoot Contessa themed dinner party at Carmen and Aster’s (pictures were taken of the food, so I may post them for you all to enjoy later in the week). So I present to you my two braids: one puffing up nicely but coming out quite a bit soggy and one not soggy at all but not as puffy as the original.
I so promise I will not be the comic relief of the Daring Baker’s all the time. I look forward to the next challenge and will once again use the schedule and timeline approach that worked so well for me this go round. But no more juicy fruits! To see my fellow Daring Baker’s danish braid, creations, head over to the Daring Bakers’ Blogroll!