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Entries in apple (5)


Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

You’re going to love these! Bratwurst simmered in hard apple cider, served with a tangy, slightly sweet “kraut” made with sautéed apples and kale. It’s a little vinegary, a little sweet and a little spicy from cinnamon and cloves. Add some spicy coarse mustard and tuck it all into a bun and you’ve got my twist on sausage and peppers. German style! (Once again, I’ve continued the tradition of not being able to photograph a sandwich to save my life. They may not be gorgeous, but they’re damn tasty!)

I’m back with another Nature’s Greens kale post. It’s been a while, right? We’ve still been eating, I just haven’t been posting. Moving on though, and please read on to see how you can win a trip for two to Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC for a two night hotel stay--plus $1,000 in spending money from Rawl/Nature’s Greens!

This contest is the Show Us Your Heritage Recipe Contest. It’s all about--you guessed it--your family heritage. I’ve touched on my husband’s heritage here once or twice, but not mine. I’m mainly German, with some Scottish, Irish and French tossed into my family tree.  I’m kind of hot tempered, but very interesting. Ha!

The Nature’s Greens products are washed, chopped and ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s a full line of pre-cut and triple-washed leafy bagged greens like kale, collards and mustard greens. It’s available in both one and two pound packages, and ready for you to pick up year round.

Nature's Greens/Rawl

You’re probably wondering their policies on GMO’s. I asked Nature’s Greens about GMO products and was very happy with their reply:

“We support sustainability by incorporating integrated pest management into our growing practices. Integrated pest management means we release beneficial insects into the growing area, and grow certain types of flowers to attract these beneficial insects. In addition, our products are bred using traditional breeding methods and they are not genetically modified.”

Nature’s Greens are available in at Hannaford, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Wal Mart, they’re available in one and two pound packages, and available year round. They’re produced by WP Rawl, a leading producer of fresh bulk and packaged greens based in Pelion, SC.

· Visit for recipes

· Like Nature’s Greens on WP Rawls’ Facebook at to stay connected

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

I was thinking about my German heritage. I don’t have any family recipes from that side, my dad’s side. His grandmother did all of the cooking when he was a kid--his mom? Zero. Zilch. Her idea of cooking was not to cook. And my dad never thought to carry on with his grandmother’s recipes--he was just a kid. To hear him talk about her cooking, though--my great grandmother and I would have been like two peas in a pod.

I was thinking about kale, and then Bratwurst came to mind. We love sausage and pepper sandwiches, so what if I could make a twist on those? Yeah, why not?! Since the Brats were going to simmer in hard apple cider, why not go that route and make an apple-onion-kale type kraut to serve with them? It worked beautifully! These are so different and delicious. Funny, we went to an Oktoberfest last month that was catered. THE most bland food I’ve ever had. When I got the “how did you like us” survey in an email? I told them I could cook circles around their caterer--and I just did. His brats and kraut were dismal. These are not!

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

Makes 5 servings

1 package of original style Bratwurst (I had a pack of 5)
2 - 12 oz. Hard Apple Ciders (I always have Woodchuck on hand, so I used that)
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly
2 apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I used Macouns, but use what you have - just not too soft of an apple)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
oil for sautéing
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 - 3 pinches ground cloves
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups Nature's Greens Kale

Rolls for serving the Brats on
Coarse pub-style mustard

Bring the two ciders to a low boil in a medium sized pot. Poke just a couple of holes in each brat and add them to the cider. Reduce to simmer and let them go for 12 minutes. Remove from the cider and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a bit of oil--just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Finish the brats by browning them on all sides, about 2 minutes or so per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the oil that's still in the pan, sauté the onions and apples for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic, a bit of salt and pepper, the cinnamon, cloves, honey, vinegar and kale. Cook for just a few more minutes, until the kale is wilted and everything is mixed together well. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Spread some of the mustard inside the buns, add some of the apple-kale-onion kraut, and a brat to each bun.

  • These are incredibly simple to make. From a quick weeknight dinner to just before the game, you’ll be eating in no time. Tailgating? Try these this weekend and give your friends something different to eat!
  • I made these this morning and didn’t know if I’d want to eat one so early in the day after photographing it, but I could not stop going back for just one more bite. I ate the whole damn thing, and loved every single bite. In fact, the leftovers are for dinner tonight and I can’t wait to have more!
  • I think my great grandmother would have loved these. I know my dad will, and I can’t wait to share.
  • Oh! The kraut would be a nice side dish to any pork dinner, as well!

Now, go enter the contest! Dig down into your family heritage and twist those recipes up with some greens from Nature’s Greens and Rawl! Once again, one grand prize winner will win a trip for two to Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC for a two night hotel stay--plus $1,000 in spending money from Rawl/Nature’s Greens! Hurry up!

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches


Olivia‚Äôs Croutons Giveaway + Traditional Bread Stuffing Recipe

Yep, you guys already know that we’re big salad eaters in my house.  I talk about it all the time!  We also love croutons on our salads, but truthfully, as easy as they are to make, I don’t always feel like making them.  Especially in the summer, when making ice cold salad to beat the heat and avoid turning the oven on.  Why would you want to heat up the house to make croutons when it’s hot?  Counterproductive. 

Don’t even mention buying those croutons you find in the grocery stores.  You know the ones--bread cubes dusted with artificial flavors and chemicals.  Yuck!  Why ruin a good salad by topping it with chemically treated bread?  It makes no sense.

Olivia's Croutons

So that’s where Olivia’s Croutons enters the picture!  All natural croutons with all natural ingredients.  You can feel good about adding these to your salad, because they’re made with the natural ingredients that you know and love.  (And can pronounce!)  Olivia’s Croutons started out in Francie’s (Olivia’s mom) home kitchen in 1991.  They grew by leaps and bounds and had to keep upgrading their workspace!  They now happily make croutons and bread stuffing in their renovated 1912 dairy barn, situated on their 50 acre homestead in New Haven, Vermont.  They even grow wheat for the croutons right on their farm!  Amazing, isn’t it?  What an inspiring success story.   I encourage you to read their About Us page.   

I was contacted by Tom from Olivia’s a while ago, and he asked if I’d like to try their croutons and stuffing.*  Obviously, since we’re such salad lovers, I said yes.  My 15 year old daughter would live on bread stuffing if I let her, so yes--the stuffing was a fun bonus! 

Here are the five crouton flavors they offer:

  • Organic Garlic and Herb
  • Butter and Garlic
  • Parmesan Pepper
  • Vermont Cheddar and Dill
  • Multigrain with Garlic

Plus they offer two types of stuffing base--Traditional, and Cornbread.  All you need to do is add the extras. 

So, what did I think of the croutons and stuffings?  They’re fabulous!  The only problem with the croutons, is saving enough for your salads--because once you open a box, it’s hard to stop eating them!  They’re perfectly seasoned and all toasty--great for just snacking on.  Your salads may never actually see a single crouton if you just can’t stop eating them right out of the box.  It’s all about restraint, and apparently, I have a problem with that.  But heck yes--they’re great on salad, of course!

Olivia's Croutons-Butter and Garlic

Also?  I used about a box and a half of croutons and whizzed them through the food processor.  I then took those crouton crumbs and used them in a stuffing for stuffed mushrooms, which I unfortunately didn’t get any photos of, but the taste was great!

Read on to see how you can get your own Olivia’s Croutons!


The Traditional Stuffing was put to good use on a run through for Thanksgiving recipes.  I usually make a fully loaded stuffing with sausage, nuts, cranberries, and apples, among other things.  It’s my favorite.  But my daughter, who I mentioned could live on stuffing?  She likes a simpler, more traditional stuffing.  So I came up with this one with her in mind.  She gave it two thumbs up, which is great in my book, because she’s very particular about stuffing.

Traditional Bread Stuffing

Traditional Bread Stuffing

Makes an 11x7 pan full

5 cups Olivia's Traditional Stuffing (1 box)
2 small diced onions, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp butter
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups chicken broth
3-4 tbsp butter
about 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (See note)
1 medium crisp apple (I used a Jonathan), peeled and chopped into approx 1/2 inch cubes

Heat oven to 325, lightly grease an 11x7 baking dish.  Add your dry stuffing to a large mixing bowl--set aside.  If your bread cubes are on the large side, go ahead and break them up a little if you like.

Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil and the 1 tbsp of butter in a sauté pan set over medium high heat.  Sauté the onions, celery and garlic until tender--10 minutes or so.

Stir in the pepper, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, broth, butter and cranberries, and simmer for about 5 minutes.   After the 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour over the dried stuffing.   Stir, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so the broth can soften the bread cubes.  Stir in the apple.

Pour into the greased baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove the foil, and bake for 5 minutes more.  Remove from oven and serve.   

NOTE:  I had the Trader Joe's frozen, sliced, sugared cranberries on hand.  If you don't have these, you can just toss your fresh cranberries in a small bit of sugar for the same effect. 

Also, a note about salt:  You'll notice I left it out.  I actually added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to my stuffing.  I bought a new poultry seasoning recently, and I'm not sure if it's a bit more salty than usual, but my stuffing (before baking) was on the salty side.  This is why I added the apple--for a bit more sweetness. 

My advice to you, is to leave salt out until you've got it ready to go in the baking dish.  Taste it then and adjust seasoning.  I'd also still go ahead and add the apple, since it's always a great add in for bread stuffing.

Traditional Bread Stuffing

Giveaway is now closed, and commenter Rachel is the lucky winner. 

Just in time for the holidays Bonus!

The generous folks at Olivia’s Croutons have offered to give a case (6 boxes) of croutons to one of you!  How great is that?  With the holidays coming up, you’ll have a fresh supply of croutons.  Don’t feel limited to salad, either!  You can process some of the croutons into bread crumbs to use in your favorite recipes, like I did with the stuffed mushrooms.  You can use them to bread chicken or fish, use them in a meatloaf or burgers--whatever you wish!

One winner (US only) will receive a case of 6 assorted crouton varieties, delivered to their door, straight from Olivia’s Croutons. 

How to enter?

1.  Follow Olivia’s Croutons on Twitter.  (One comment for one entry.)

2.  Follow Olivia’s Croutons on Facebook.  (One comment for one additional entry.)

3.  Check out the list of crouton flavors on their site, and tell me which one you can’t wait to try.  (One comment for one additional entry.)

4.  If you want to retweet this giveaway, you may do so once per day.  (One comment per day for a retweet.)

That’s 4 ways to enter!

That’s it!  I’ll run the contest for one week, so the winner will be chosen on Thursday, October 21st. 


If you just can’t wait to get your hands on some of these croutons, check out their ordering page, and you can order some right away!

Olivia's Croutons

*Disclaimer:  I received the stuffing and croutons from Olivia’s Croutons at no charge, and was not paid for my opinion. 


The Apple Crisp that makes me feel like a kid again.

And that's no small feat! We won't talk about which birthday I just celebrated, but my 5 year old son tells me I'm still cute, so that helps. A lot, hehe.

This is the kind of apple crisp I remember having as a kid. My mom never made it until I was older--she didn't really like to bake much, but it's the kind you find in a good diner or mom and pop restaurant. Not that we ate in diners a lot, but there was always something special about having apple crisp back then since we never had it at home. It's nice and oaty and crumbly on top, and underneath--nice, sweet, cinnamon kissed apples.

Every year we go to Gould Hill Orchard in Contoocook, NH. (Sounds like Con-took-cook.) It's a family run farm that's 225 years old, and they have over 85 unique varieties of apples, not to mention gorgeous views of the area. They also make their own apple cider that is so refreshing.



Views from the orchard.

We were there in late September, and got a peck of mixed apples including Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Macoun, Paula Red, Swiss Gourmet, Porter--and of course, Cortlands. So I have no clue which apples were used in this apple crisp. For a complete list of varieties and when they're available at Gould's, check out the site. And if you're in the area, I urge you to check out their farm--it's beautiful and peaceful. And you just can't beat the views. If you're bringing kids with you, they have a nature museum in the barn. There's so much to see there, and they have activities and prizes for the kids. We go all over the place with our kids, and inevitably, someone is always bored. ugh. I was floored when we visited their museum, because every single one of my kids--5, 8, 11 and 13--found something to do there that interested them. We spent a good 90 minutes just hanging out there and learning new things. It's run by a dedicated and very approachable former teacher and some wonderful volunteers who loves to share their knowledge with kids and adults alike.


Here are a bunch more pictures I took at Gould's Orchard, because it seems a waste to just let them sit there on my hard drive, never to see the light of day.

As you can see, they also have some cute gifts and locally made products for sale.


Now for the apple crisp! I combined two recipes to make this one. Some of you may remember my ugly, yet so delicious apple pie. I knew I wanted a lot of cinnamon in this crisp, so I immediately went for that filling, from Ann Hodgman in her Beat This! cookbook. That one and Beat That! are two of my favorite cookbooks. Ann has a great sense of humor, and these two books are fun to read cover to cover. I adapted her apple pie filling and her apple crisp topping to come up with this one.

I used 12 apples and got a good sized 9x13 pan full of apples. And by the way, if you make a lot of apple desserts, or even if you make one apple dessert a year that takes 12 apples, you should invest in one of these Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer gadgets. Mine isn't from Pampered chef, but if you're going to get one, get one that clamps on to your counter like that one, not the kind with the pencil sharpener suction cup that never works. You put your apple on the torturous looking prongs, turn the crank, and in seconds, your apple is peeled, cored, and sliced into a long spiral. Run a knife down through the apple after removing it, and you've got perfect apple slices. It's such a timesaver!

So between the topping and filling, there's 5 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Yes, really! Noooo, it's not too much--and don't be tempted to cut back the nutmeg, either. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but not in this. Really! And if I'd thought ahead, I'd have had some fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, anything like that. But no, didn't have any. Damn. Ah well, it was good, just the same. And even better the next day, and the next day...

Cinnamon Overload Apple Crisp
Adapted from Beat This!


1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, melted


12 cups (about 12 apples) of your favorite baking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (see how that gadget would come in handy here?)
1 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 TBSP cornstarch
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 TBSP unsalted butter

Heat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry topping ingredients. Add the melted butter, stir until crumbly, and set aside.

Put the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining filling ingredients, mixing the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.

Stir the spice mixture into the apples and combine the two, then pour the apples into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Pat the topping over the apples and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.




What to do when you make an ugly apple pie...


Serve it in a glass!



I had such high hopes. I really did. I've only made two pies from scratch in my lifetime, crust included. They were both tasty, but unfortunately, not pretty. And I know--looks aren't everything. But still, I wanted to make a pretty pie. I'm just going to have to keep trying, I guess.

So anyway, trying to get a pretty and perfect slice out of a not so perfect pie was not happening. Next best thing? Throw it in a glass with some vanilla frozen yogurt and call it Apple Pie Parfait! Like they used to say (do they still, I wonder?) in the ads for gag and joke things in the back of comic books..."Fool Your Friends!"



This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks--Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. It's Classic Apple Pie, but I'm renaming it Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie. It's a triple threat with cinnamon in the crust, the filling, and as a topping. The flavor is fabulous!


No, I didn't use a whole stick of Crisco!





Triple Cinnamon Apple Pie
makes 1 - 9 inch pie



2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
5 tbsp ice water
1 tsp vanilla extract



3 pounds Granny Smith apples (8 cups worth), peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg
2 tbsp unsalted butter



milk for brushing over crust
1 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon



2 cups pie weights (or dry beans or dry rice)



Prepare the pastry!



Stir the dry ingredients together, or add them to the bowl of your food processor and pulse to mix.
Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add them and the shortening to the dry stuff, or mix
in with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal.
Add the ice water and vanilla and process until a dough forms, or if not using a food processor, mix with a fork until the dough comes together.
Divide the dough into two portions--one slightly larger than the other. Press each into a disk about one inch thick, wrap in plastic and stick them in the fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour.



Now don't sit there admiring the cinnamony dough you just made! Get to work on the filling!



Preheat oven to 350°.
Put your prepared apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
In a separate smaller
bowl, mix to combine the dry filling ingredients.
Now this is very important, so pay attention.
When making fruit pies, unless your specifically told to, do NOT mix the fruit with the dry ingredients until just before you fill the pie crust. If you do, may God have mercy on your soul.
And your pie.
The fruit will do it's thing when you mix it with other stuff, and it'll get all juicy.
This translates to a soggy pie.
(Did this intelligent tidbit of pie making advice come from me?
Hell no! This is the author's advice, of course.)
So leave the two separate bowls alone until
you're ready to fill the crust.



Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate.
Flour your rolling surface and roll
out the smaller dough disk until it's a 12 inch circle (Or if you're like me, a shape that resembles a foreign country, not a circle, and is "slightly" (term used very loosely) larger than 12 inches.)
Line the pie plate with the dough, trim the messy edges (As if we'd have messy edges, right? Who, me?), and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Butter a piece of foil and place it butter side down in your chilled bottom crust.
Fill with 2 cups of
pie weights, dry beans or rice.
Bake this on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling
rack, remove the foil and weights and let the crust cool slightly.


While it's cooling, roll out the other dough disk to (hopefully) a circle about 13 inches in diameter.
Let it sit for a second.
Now you have permission to mix the apples and the other dry filling ingredients, except the 2 tbsp butter.
Working quickly, pile the apples into the bottom crust.
You should have a mountain
of apple slices.
Dot the apples with little chunks of that butter.
Now is the tricky part.


LOOK at all the cinnamon on those apples. It's almost illegal how much cinnamon there is.


Top the apples with the top crust, and crimp it to the bottom crust.

is this tricky?
Well, besides the scary "how in the hell am I going to get this crust up off the
counter and on to the pie" moments, unbaked crust doesn't really want to stick to baked crust.
But do your best, because if I can get it to crimp, anyone can.
And I did.
And no filling leaked
out and all over my oven. Whew! It's the little things that make me happy, really.



Trim off any ragged edges (Ok, I had a LOT) and cut about 4 oval shaped slits in the crust to let steam out during baking. Make sure they're big enough to stay opened as the crust bakes and expands. (More author advice there.)



Quickly brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle all of that delicious cinnamon and sugar over the top.
Bake the pie in the lower half of your oven on a cookie sheet for one hour. (Ann says to
bake on the bottom rack, but I baked one up from that. I know my oven, and it gets all pissy when I put things on the bottom rack, and then it burns them as a nice payback.)
The cookie
sheet concentrates the heat to the bottom of the pie tin, helping to make the bottom crust flakier.


After one hour, transfer the pie and cookie sheet to the middle rack and bake for 10

more minutes.



Allow to cool slightly before slicing.


So if any of you decide to try this pie--and I hope you do, it's really that good--I hope it looks prettier for you. But if not, scoop out some of it and toss it in a pretty glass with ice cream and make Apple Pie Parfait. I'm sure whoever you serve it to won't be worried about what happened to the pie.



DB'ers June Challenge--Danish Braids

I so wish that I could bottle scents and sell them. If I could do that with this month's challenge, I'd sell a ton. We made Danish Braids this month, and the dough--not only was it a dream to work with, but it's scented with orange zest, vanilla bean, and cardamom. It just doesn't get any better than that, folks. The aroma while the braids were baking was heavenly! But that doesn't even compare to the taste. It was out of this world delicious! So good, in fact, that I had to send most of these to work with my husband. They were dangerous! Dangerously delicious, hehe! Fillings were up to us entirely, so I decided to go with half the apple filling recipe for one, and cooked down blueberries with a bit of sugar, layered over almond paste for the second braid. Both were fabulous, but the blueberry almond was my favorite, and I was sad to see it walk out the door to go to the office with my husband. But I seriously could have eaten all of these. OINK! They had to go.


This month's challenge was chosen and hosted by Kelly at Sass & Veracity, and Ben at What's Cooking.

A few facts:

• Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered doughs with puff pastry being the ultimate. Danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, however, where as puff pastry is not.
• The process of making Danish dough is less complex than that of puff pastry, but equally as important to achieve best results, and a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated doughs in general.
• Danish dough is extremely versatile, and once made can be used for a variety of baked goods. The possibilities are endless.

There are a lot of steps involved, and it seems overwhelming, but it really isn't. The most important thing to remember, I think, is to let the dough rest for the 30 minute intervals. It needs three 30 minutes rests, and then the final rest of 5 (yes, 5!) hours. So plan to either start early in the day, or give the dough, and yourself, a rest overnight, and start again the next day. This recipe makes two braids. The time to divide the dough has varied in the posts I've read, but I split mine after its overnight rest in the fridge. Divide it, then roll each portion into a 10x15" rectangle. You'll cut parallel strips on each side, remove the extra dough in the corners (you'll see what I mean in the photos), add your filling down the center, fold in the 2 end flaps, then braid the strips. Make sure when you cut the strips that you leave a large enough base to hold the fillings--make sure your rectangles are 10x15 to start, and you should be all set.

Braiding was a bit stressful at the beginning, hoping I'd do it right, and have beautiful baked braids that held their shape--but it was a cinch to do! Make sure to cut your strips long enough so that they reach all the way over the dough on the other side, and give them a pinch to stay in place. Tuck your last braid under the previous one and give that a little pinch, too.

I've got lots of step by step photos, so here we go!

Some extra, but helpful info:
• Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough
• Detrempe – ball of dough
• Beurrage – butter block
• Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns. Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.

For Your Consideration:
• This recipe calls for a standing mixer with fitted attachments, but it can easily be made without one. Ben says, “Do not fear if you don’t own a standing mixer. I have been making puff pastry by hand for many years and the technique for Danish pastry is very similar and not too difficult.” Look for the alternate directions in the recipe as appropriate.
Yard recommends the following:
• Use well-chilled ingredients. This includes flour if your kitchen temperature is above 70 degrees F (~ 21 degrees C).
• It is recommended that long, continuous strokes be used to roll the dough rather than short, jerky strokes to make sure the butter block is evenly distributed.
• The 30-minute rest/cooling period for the dough between turns is crucial to re-chill the butter and allow the gluten in the dough to relax.
• Excess flour accumulated on the surface of the dough after turns should be brushed off as pockets of flour can interfere with the rise.
• Yard calls for a “controlled 90 degree F environment” for proofing the constructed braid. Please refer to this chart to assist you in this stage of the challenge:

Proofing Temperature For Fresh Dough
(room temp) For Refrigerated Dough
Degrees F Degrees C
70 ~ 21 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. 2-1/2 to 3 hrs.
75 ~ 24 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hrs. 2 to 2-1/2 hrs.
80 ~ 27 1 to 1-1/4 hrs. 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.
85 ~ 29 45 min. to 1 hr. 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
90 ~ 32 45 min. 1 hr.

• When making cuts in the dough for the braid, make sure they are not too long and provide a solid base for the filling.
• Ben on Cardamom: It can be very expensive as some stores, but if you have an Indian store nearby, it can be considerably less expensive than at your local grocery store. If you can’t find it or it is still cost prohibitive, then you can use a substitute. Many people would say that there is no substitute for the unique flavor of cardamom and it is better to leave it out. But I’ve found out that combining cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in equal portions words pretty well. Of course, it doesn’t come close to the cardamom taste, but it worked just fine for one of my test batches.
• Kelly’s Two Cents: I had some green cardamom pods on hand and used 16, cracking and emptying the contents into a grinder to get the quantity called for in the recipe for the dough. The quantity barely put a dent in my 1 oz. bottle. If you don’t have an Indian store near by, you may consider on-line spice retailers like … -and-black or
Yes, there’s postage involved, but you’ll have cardamom for many other
recipes for a fraction of the cost, even with postage.


Danish Braid

Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 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 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

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 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ 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 30 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, ¼-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

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

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

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

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, ¼ 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 you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve 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.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

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.



Butter Block



First roll out of the dough, and butter block spread over 2/3 of it.



Fold end with no butter halfway over buttered dough. You're folding in three, like a business letter.



Here is your folded business letter, and your first completed turn of the dough!



****This is where you let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Take it out of the fridge, roll to a 13x18" rectangle, fold the open ends in, like a business letter, and let it rest for 30 minutes again, in the fridge. This is your second turn. Two more to go, and after the last turn, give it a rest for 5 hours or overnight.


After the 5 hour rest period, divide the dough in two. Refrigerate one while you start on the other. Roll to a 10x15" rectangle, and continue on.


Apple filling cooking down. Blueberry filling was done the same way. Three cups blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cook down until syrupy and thickened. Add about 1/2 cups blueberries at the end for a few whole berries in the filling.



Almond paste waiting for blueberries.



Blueberry filling over almond paste.



Apple filling.



Finished braid.



Finished braids, proofing. I preheated my oven to 175 F, then shut it off and put the braids in to proof. After about one hour, they were ready to go.



Finished braids.



Glazed with a mixture of powdered sugar, water, and vanilla bean seeds.




I encourage everyone to try this recipe! You'll be thrilled to complete something like this, and so happy when you take that first (second, third, fourth, fifth, etc....)bite! It's not as difficult as it may seem. Just follow the steps, and you'll be fine.

Thank you to Kelly and Ben for choosing this recipe! I never in a million years would have thought I could do this, but I did! Another huge accomplishment and another DB Challenge chalked up. Whew! hehehe!

A few helpful links: