Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cream Cheese Braids - Honestly!

Since the beginning of 2013, I have tried to bake some type of bread every day for at least 5 days of each week. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least.......That effort comes with a couple of specific challenges: 1. Finding unusual, dependable, beautiful recipes 2. Finding people who are willing to eat your experiments and honestly evaluate them. After "using" most of our neighborhood as guinea pigs, I headed to our church. A friend works as the church's graphic design artist, so she agreed to take in this recipe to a Monday morning staff meeting. I put everything together the night prior to the meeting, refrigerated it and popped it into the oven the next morning. My friend flew in my driveway at 7:30am, picked up the freshly-baked loaves and whisked them away. The following Sunday, our pastor found me (out of 1000 people!) and raved about how tasty this bread was. Since he's a pastor, I think I got an honest evaluation this time around :-)    

Cream Cheese Braids                                   
1 Tbsp. or 1 packet Red Star Platinum yeast 
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup  warm milk
1/4 cup softened butter
1  teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached  all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Dough: Place water, milk and yeast in EZ DOH bucket and stir. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining dough ingredients and EZ DOH-it until dough is smooth and elastic (or knead with traditional method). Remove from bucket, spray bucket with cooking spray, replace dough in bucket and cover. Place in warm spot until the dough has approximately doubled in size.

Filling: While dough is rising, prepare the filling – Mix all of the ingredients together till smooth. Chill till ready to use.

Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Spread half of the filling lengthwise down the center third of each rectangle. Cut 1-inch-wide strips from each side of the filling out to the edges of the dough. Fold about an inch of dough at each end over the filling to contain it, then fold the strips, at an angle, across the filling, alternating from side to side. Gently transfer to a greased baking sheet.

Baking: Allow the braids to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till almost doubled in size. (I made my dough, formed and filled it the night before. I then sprayed it lightly with cooking spray, covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise overnight in the frig. Remove the loaves from the frig 1 hour prior to baking).  Brush with a glaze made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, and sprinkle with sugar, if desired; then bake the braids in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack. I added a simple confectioners sugar drizzle once the loaves were cooled.  Yield: 2 braids.
This recipe has been adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe 


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