Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

Argh, it's been over a month again since I posted. I'm sorry. But yeah, my three jobs are really keeping me busy lately. So I was actually really glad when I got the chance to bake something last week when a good friend of mine visited.

I saw this braid quite a while back on Toxo Bread (in the original recipe, it's a blueberry braid) and at first, I was a little put off, because there are quite a few steps involved and the dough has to rise four times. Yes, you read right. FOUR times. So definitely not something you're gonna do at the drop of a hat. There's gotta be some planning involved. But it looked so yummy that I broke down eventually and boy, am I glad I did.

Now let me tell you, yeast and I - we're not the best of friends, so usually I don't expect much when I start working with it. But I've made this braid about half a dozen times now and it's turned out beautifully every single time. I've tried different fillings (blueberry, raspberry, peanut butter, thinly sliced apples) and they've all been delicious (well, the peanut butter was a bit of a letdown, but all the fruity fillings were great), so you definitely can play around with that depending on what you like best. If you want to make it a little lighter, you can use quark instead of cream cheese; if you don't have fresh fruit, I'm sure you can use jams instead. So seriously, if you want something really, really great for breakfast (And dessert. And coffee. And maybe a little slice after dinner.) - try this. I know it's a little time-consuming, but you will not be disappointed. I'm kinda tempted to use this yeast recipe for everything now. I think I'll try cinnamon rolls next.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

For the sponge:
1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tbsp white sugar
180ml warm milk
120g all-purpose flour

For the dough:
1 egg
3/4 tbsp salt
40g white sugar
200-250g all-purpose flour
65g butter, softened

For the fruit filling:
150-200g raspberries (frozen ones are fine)
25g white sugar
15g cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the egg glaze:
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

For the cream cheese filling:
200g cream cheese
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp egg glaze

For the decoration:
50g sliced almonds
powdered sugar

1. For the sponge, mix the sugar, yeast and flour and pour the warm (not hot) milk over it. Mix with a spoon until you have a fairly smooth mixture. Let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

2. Add the egg, salt, sugar and about half of the flour for the dough to the sponge and mix with an electric mixer (dough hook) until you have a smooth dough. Add the butter in small pieces and keep mixing with the dough hook until it's well incorporated. Keep adding flour until you have a working dough that's not sticky anymore, about five minutes (well, it can be a little sticky, but it should be workable).

3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

4. In the meantime, put your raspberries in a saucepan and add the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Bring it to a boil and then let the mixture cook on medium heat for about five minutes. I don't mind having the seeds in there and having a bit of texture to the filling, so I don't bother with pureeing the raspberries and putting them through a sieve. If you don't like that, do those things before you add the cornstarch to your berry mixture. The mixture will start to thicken while it cooks. Once you take it off the stove, put it in a bowl and cover it with clingwrap, so no skin will be forming on top. Put in the fridge until use after it has cooled down a little.

5. For the egg glaze, simply mix an egg with a tablespoon of milk (mixing it with a fork will suffice). Put in the fridge until use.

6. For the cream cheese filling, just mix all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer. Put in the fridge until use.

7. Once your dough has risen for about 2 hours, deflate it, cover the bowl with clingwrap and put it into the fridge overnight.

8. The next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for about half an hour before taking it out of the bowl and kneading it for a couple of minutes.

9. Roll out the dough to a rectangle of about 20x40cm, about 1cm thick.

10. Spread first the cream cheese, then the raspberry filling on top of the dough - but be careful: we still need to braid the dough, so don't go overboard with the filling and only put it in the very center of the dough, taking up about 8 to 10cm in width!

11. Now slice the left and right side of the dough at an angle so you get tabs about 2 to 3cm wide. Start braiding the dough by folding over the tabs, alternating from side to side. (You can find a great photo of this step at The Fresh Loaf!)

12. When you're done, glaze the braid with the egg wash and let it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place until it has about doubled in size.

13. Once it's risen, glaze again with egg wash and top with sliced almonds.

14. Bake on 175°C for about 35 to 40 minutes until it's golden brown.

15. Let the braid cool down for at least 30 minutes before slicing it. Dust with powdered sugar.


♥ Nicole