Monday, April 25, 2011

For Breakfast This Weekend

One of my first food media-related jobs, 15 years ago, was working on a web site PBS produced in conjunction with the re-release of the Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs series. It was a pretty thankless gig that mostly entailed watching (and rewatching, and watching again) the series (on VHS, naturally), taking notes so that each video could be time-coded, and writing biographies of the featured chefs.

So the work itself was mind-numbing, but the silver lining was getting to watch hours upon hours of the greats--Zarela Martinez, Daniel Boulud, Madhur Jaffrey--together with Julia Child, who was getting on in years but was still a terrific joy to watch.

One of my favorites, and the one that has stuck with me all these years later, is the episode with Beatrice Ojakangas. Beyond having an amazing name, Ojakangas is a skilled Scandinavian baker, and on the show she showed Julia how to make Danish pastry. I got sort of obsessed. There are some things that you think you can't make at home, and Danish was one of those things. But with Beatrice on my side, I made a flaky, glazed fruit-and-cheese filled Danish bread without breaking a sweat.

It would be years before I realized that the dough is essentially a yeasted puff pastry, and up until this weekend, it had been years since I had made it. But I baked one again this weekend, and it was just as successful and easy to work with as I'd remembered. Also: It is so impressive, and covered with glaze, and the "braiding" looks far more complicated than it actually is.

Click here to read the recipe. I filled mine with lightly sweetened fromage blanc and some tart apricot jam, but the possibilities are endless. And since the dough recipe makes enough for two braids, you can choose two different fillings (or put half of the dough in the freezer).

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