Apricot and Almond Braid
SERVES 12 PREP 1 HOUR (PLUS CHILLING) COOKING 1 HOUR
This pastry is a fun food project and needs to be started 1–2 days in advance. By layering the butter and flour you get a beautiful puffy dough enriched with all the things we love in sweet breads. Have fun with the braiding of this, a wreath also works well with this pastry if you are wanting something a little more festive.
2 tsp dried yeast
1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm milk,
plus 2 tbsp extra
3 cups (450 g) Minchins Milling high
grade stoneground white flour
250 g butter, chopped
¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon and
2 tsp juice
1 egg, plus 1 extra yolk
1 cup (120 g) icing sugar
toasted flaked almonds
250 g cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp almond essence
820 g tinned halved apricots
Combine yeast, first measure of milk and 1 teaspoon each flour and sugar in a jug. Stand to activate the yeast for 5 minutes or until bubbles begin to form on the top of the mixture.
Meanwhile, place flour, butter, sugar and zest in a food processor and whiz until mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add yeast mixture and egg (leave the extra yolk for later) to food processor and pulse until mixture just comes together. Transfer to a clean work surface and shape into a rectangle. Cover tightly with plastic or beeswax and chill overnight.
The next day, lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Using a rolling pin roll dough out into a roughly A4-size rectangle. Fold into thirds like a business letter, bringing the top edge into the centre and the bottom edge up and over the top. Spin it clockwise and roll and repeat process twice more. Wrap and chill for a further hour. At this point you can leave the dough for another day if you like.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. For the filling, combine cream cheese, egg yolk, brown sugar and essence in a food processor until smooth.
To assemble Danish braid: Roll out dough to a large 1 cm thick rectangle that is 2 cm short of the size of your baking tray, remembering dough will expand when it cooks. Alternatively, divide dough into two pieces and make two smaller braids.
Spoon the cream cheese filling along the long centre of the piece of dough. Top with apricots. Using a sharp knife, or even scissors, cut the dough horizontally on an angle away from the filled section to create strips of dough. Alternating between each side, fold these strips across and over the filling, tucking under the base of the braid to cover the filling and fruit.
Combine extra milk and egg yolk in a bowl and brush over pastry.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Reduce oven to 160°C, cover loosely with foil and cook for a further 20–30 minutes or until Danish is cooked through.
Meanwhile combine icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Scatter with almond flakes and drizzle with icing and serve warm.