I completely understand now why bakers are up so early. Because then they actually get their brunch braid done before lunch time! I was up plenty early but didn't decide to make this until around nine o'clock in the morning. Maybe I should have had more than one cup of coffee. O.o
Ingredients into the mixer. Mix, switch to hook and knead for about 5 minutes.
Divide the dough in half and roll out one piece.
A ruler and pizza cutter will come in handy with the next steps.
First cut out the first "strips". You won't want these to bulk up your ends.
Now you want to cut strips on the two sides. I wasn't measuring! Want perfect go to Ikea. I was just using the ruler as a spacer and straight edge so my braid wouldn't be completely special.
Once I cut the wide strips I went back and cut in between to create skinnier strips.
Added the filling and fold in the end caps. This is kind of important, if you don't do this the goo will be all over your baking sheet.
Time to start braiding! Oh wait that would be complicated and it isn't.... just criss cross the strips.
I found the dough got stickier as it sat while I criss crossed and took pictures. I tried to be smart and use my pastry scraper to get the last couple of strips up off the parchment. Yeah ummm that didn't work. I've had easier time of getting the darned 3m stickum strips off the wall!
The last strip just gets tucked under the end. Not too shabby!
When doing the second one I got smart and used the edge of the ruler to imprint a line from one end to the other to use as a guide for how far to cut the strips.
This braid I left the strips wide. The criss crossing went much quicker and I think I like the look a bit better.
Let them rest and then brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sparkle sugar.
Baked and cooling.
These were tasty but it just seems to need something. Maybe next time I will add a little bit of fruit. KA's recipe calls for Fiori di Sicilia or vanilla. The Fiori di Sicilia would be very good but my son is not a fan of the flavor so I opted to use the vanilla.
Cheese-Filled Sweet Braid
~ adapted from the King Arthur recipe ~
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 ounces lukewarm water
4 ounces lukewarm milk
2 ounces butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
12 3/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces sugar
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
The following are KA's directions. I have made comments in them on how I executed the bread and italicized the comments.
Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them together -- by hand, mixer or bread machine -- till you've made a soft, smooth dough. I used my mixer. First mixing with the paddle then switched to the dough hook, kneading for about 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
Filling: While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing all of the ingredients together till smooth. Chill till ready to use.
Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it in half. The oil didn't work for me. The dough was very sticky so I used flour and the dough behaved much better. Roll each half into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. At this point I moved the rolled out dough to a sheet of parchment paper. I am not sure I would have had success moving the braid once done without destroying it. I cut my strips using a pizza cutter before spreading the filling onto the dough. 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.
Baking: Allow the braids to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till almost doubled in size. Brush with a glaze made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, and sprinkle with sparkling white 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. Yield: 2 braids.