Thursday, April 8, 2010

Apple & Cream Cheese Braid for Easter

I was convinced that I had walnuts in the refrigerator but when I went to retrieve them there were no walnuts to be found and I couldn’t go out to buy some because every supermarket was closed for Good Friday. I had been to the market a least three times the week leading to Easter and it didn’t even occur to me that I might need walnuts. Why would I? I was convinced I had walnuts! I had planned to make the Blooming Coffee Rings which I usually make for Easter to take to my parent’s house for dessert. I had made the dough the day before and it was sitting very nicely in the refrigerator developing wonderful flavours. I couldn’t wait till Saturday when all the stores would be open again because I had a busy day planned and would be out most of the day. I was not too pleased with myself! What to do? What to do? Well I do make a braided loaf made with a sweet dough, not this particular recipe, but it was a sweet dough nonetheless, so why not make a braid. I had made a braided bread not that long ago for New Year’s Eve so it was still fresh in my mind. I had all the ingredients so yes, I would make the apple with cream cheese braid and like the blooming coffee ring the recipe yielded two breads, one for us to enjoy and one for the dessert table on Easter.
I removed the dough from the refrigerator to sit and warm up a bit and proceeded to make the apple filling. With a recipe from the Joy of Cooking as a guide I peeled and sliced a couple of Granny Smith apples and threw them into a pan with some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to cook for a few minutes until the apples softened a bit. For the cream cheese filling I mixed cream cheese, an egg yolk, vanilla and sugar until smooth and set it aside. I divided the dough into two portions and rolled one out to a rectangle about 14 x 9 inches and placed it on parchment. If you omit this step it will be difficult to transfer the braided dough to the sheet pan.
Then I cut three inch diagonal cuts about ½ inch apart on both sides. I spread half the cheese mixture in the middle, topped it with half the apple mixture and then beginning at one end, criss crossed the strips of dough to the other end.

I lifted the dough with the parchment paper to a large sheet pan, covered it with plastic and did the same with the remaining dough, cheese and apples. After the dough doubled I brushed it with egg wash and sprinkled it with sliced almonds. It was baked in a 350 F. oven for about 35 minutes.
When the braids were cool I wrapped them in foil and put them in the freezer to maintain their freshness for Easter.
On Easter we were all going to my parents for dinner and I had an awful lot of food, a braid, a cheesecake and other items that I had to bring over. I asked my son to get one of the braids out of the freezer from the refrigerator in the basement so that it would be thawed before we went. I had everything written on a note so that I would not forget a thing. Olives, check, boconcini, check, bread sticks, check, cheesecake, check, cherry pie filling, check, lemons, check, coloured eggs, check, chocolates check, Easter cards, check, braids, check.
Randy loaded up the car and just before walking out the door I went to get the cheesecake out of the refrigerator but it wasn’t there. My husband called to me that the cheesecake was on the table. Oh I thought, I didn’t take it out of the refrigerator, or did I and forgot I did, oh well then I’ll just put it in the car. And we were off.
Fast forward to dessert time. Coffee is poured, cheesecake is sliced and being served, fruit tray of cantelope and mixed berries is on the table. 'Randy where did you put the braid'? 'What braid'?! So after all that the braid was left at home. My son had taken the cheesecake out of the refrigerator not the braid out of the freezer. When I questioned Steven about the braid his response was "More braid for us."

My computer is temporarily down so I had to use my husband's computer to post this. I have submitted this bread to YeastSpotting, and since all my recipes are on my computer I will include the recipe as soon as I get my computer back.

Sweet-Roll Dough

2 pkg. dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk, warmed
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
3 eggs
5¼ to 5-¾ cups all purpose flour

Note: If eggs are refrigerator cold, pour hot water over them and let stand for several minutes to warm before cracking.
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small cup or bowl, stir, and let stand for a minute of so to dissolve. Combine the milk, sugar, salt, butter, and eggs in a large mixing bowl, and beat well. Stir in the dissolved yeast. Add 2-1/2 cups of the flour, and beat until smooth and well blended. Add 2-1/2 cups more flour and beat until the dough holds together in a rough, shaggy mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Resume kneading for 8 to 10 minutes more, gradually sprinkling on a little more flour if the dough sticks to your hands, until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

Punch the risen dough down, and it is ready to be formed and baked according to other recipes which call for Sweet-Roll Dough. You can also freeze the dough at this point, or store in the refrigerator for a few days in a tightly covered container.

Apple Mixture

3 Granny Smith Applies
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a fry pan add all the ingredients and cook for a few minutes until the apples just begin to soften. If there is a lot of syrup remove some of it otherwise it will leak out of the dough. Set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 cup cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Grated lemon rind
1 egg yolk
Mix together until smooth. Set aside.


1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
¼ cup blanched sliced almonds


Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 14” x 9” rectangle. Place on a piece of parchment. Spread with half the cheese mixture lengthwise down center third of rectangle. Top with apple mixture. Make diagonal cuts from outer edges one half inch apart and 3 inches long. Fold alternate strips of dough over filling. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until double in volume. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sliced almonds Bake at 350 F. For 30 to 35 minutes. Yield: 2 Braids.


Melinda said...

That looks super and is delicious looking. The braiding is so tidy!

I like the little dramatic/traumatic story. So, Miss Marple, who ate the missing walnuts? A real mystery. Let the grilling begin.

doughadear said...

I'd love to blame the missing walnuts on my husband who is notorious for dipping into my supply, but I hide them from him for this very reason. Truth be told I used them all up and just forgot. Darn! No Way! My husband did it.

breadbasketcase said...

The braids look beautiful--especially for a second choice. The only thing that it needs to be absolutely perfect is a few chopped walnuts.

doughadear said...

Very funny! I later found a handful of walnuts tucked in the back of the refrigerator, hardly enough for the Blooming Cake but certainly enough that I could have used to decorate the top of the braid.

Anonymous said...

I think boys are missing the listen to what I say chromosome at birth. Too funny!

Thanks for the parchment tip. I didn't use it when I made braids last year and I ended up shaping one of them into a ring since I messed it up so bad transferring it to a cookie sheet.

doughadear said...

You hit that one right on! You know the old adage "If you want it done right do it yourself".

I don't know what I'd do without parchment. The first time I made this I didn't use the parchment trick and I had the hardest time transfering the bread to the pan.

Memória said...

Oh, I love making yeast braids! Your braids look beautiful! I love the filling. Great job! I found on yeastspotting.

doughadear said...

Thank you for your kind words. Isn't yeastspotting a great bread resource?

Laura said...

This looks wonderful. I will definitely have to put this on my list of things to make. Thank you!

doughadear said...

Thank you.

Christine said...

the braid is so pretty!

doughadear said...

Thank you Christine.