Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

Outside of the wonderful taste of this breakfast treat, I really do like the ease of the recipe.  The appearance of this pastry gives the impression that this took a lot of effort.

The recipe makes two pastries, which means you can keep one and give another to the neighbors.  In my case I brought it to my co-workers.  Another good thing about the recipe is that it can be changed up, depending on your preference of fruit.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid
adapted from King Arthur's Bakers Companion

Ingredients/ Dough
3 cups regular or pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
6 tbs sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
6 tbs butter (room temp)
1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup of raspberry jam mixed with 2 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
1- 8oz package of cream cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1/4 cup coarse sugar (optional for topping)

For the dough, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 tsp of sugar (take from 1/4 cup measurement).  Then add 1/2 cup of the flour (take from 3 cup measurement).  Blend until the mixture forms a dough.  Shape into a ball and place back in bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside until the yeast becomes very active, about 10-15 minutes.

Once active, stir in all the remaining dough ingredients.  After all is blended into a dough, knead dough until it becomes soft and is no longer sticky.  You can do this by hand or with a dough hook in a stand mixer.  Grease the interior of a medium size bowl.  Shape the dough into a ball.  Put dough ball into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place bowl in a warm, draft free place and let dough rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled.

While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Take the cream cheese and cut into 8 portions. While the mixer is still running, add pieces of cream cheese at 15 second intervals. Scrape down sides of bowl and then beat in egg and flour.  Scrape down sides of bowl again and beat until all is incorporated.  Set aside.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Take 1 piece of the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 X10 inches.  Place sheet of dough on the center of the parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with second piece of dough.

Spread half of the jam in a 2 1/2 inch wide strip down the center of each piece of dough.  There should be a 1 inch border left at the top and bottom of the dough.  Then spoon and smooth 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture on top of the jam for each piece of dough.

On each 15 inch side of the dough, make strips by cutting 2 1/2 inches in length which are 3/4 inches wide. The strips should be at a 15 degree angle downward.  The end result is that the strips make like an upside down "V" with the filling in the center.

Fold in the 1 inch border dough on the top and bottom.  Then crisscross dough strips over top of filling, placing one left strip over the filling and then alternating with the right. Repeat the cutting and folding process for second piece of dough. Cover both braids with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until they puff up, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once the braids have risen, you can top according to preference.  An egg wash (one egg blended with 1 tbs water) will add shine and a deeper color to the braid.  Spritzing the dough with water was the method I used.  After that process, sprinkle the dough with the coarse sugar.

Bake the braids until they reach a golden hue, which should take about 32-36 minutes.  Once baked, let cool for about 15 minutes and then slice and serve.

Tips and notes:
1. Pastry flour will make the braids more tender.  If using regular flour, add 2 extra tbs of water.
2. You can use a product called Clear Gel in place of the flour in the filling.  Use 2 tbs to mix in with the raspberry jam instead of the flour and use 2 tbs to add with the egg instead of 3 tbs of flour.
3. This dough can be used for many sweet breads such as monkey bread and hot cross buns.
                                **LAST YEAR:Black Pond Cupcakes**