It's nice to have a long, involved project to work on during Conference weekend so that I don't fall asleep listening to the nice talks. So this is what I made last weekend, I've wanted to try a sweet bread recipe and do something exciting with it. It worked pretty well, but I think I need to work on yeasted pastry dough recipe that will give me something more like the danishes from Pavel's in Pacific Grove, but I have no idea what to do differently. But this project was quite successful, so here's what I did.
Sweet Braided Bread with Cheese and Fruit Filling
SWEET BREAD DOUGH: (based on Cinnamon Bread recipe from "Beard on Bread")
2 cups milk
1 tbsp yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, divided
5-6 cups all purpose flour
Scald the milk by heating it gently until it just starts steaming, or you see bubbles forming on the sides of the pan, set aside and let cool. Mix together yeast, sugar, 3 cups of the flour, salt, and the scalded milk, and 1/4 cup of the butter, softened, cut into smallish pieces. Mix thoroughly, let rest for a few minutes, then add the remaining 2-3 cups of flour. Knead for a couple of minutes, it should be just a tiny bit sticky still. Form the dough into a ball and let raise in a greased bowl until doubled.
While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese and blueberry fillings. (I used these recipe for the fillings, with a couple changes.)
2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch (or even less)
juice of 1 lime, or about 1 Tbsp
zest of 1 lime (optional)
Combine all these ingredients in a small pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, you may not even notice it boiling because there isn't a lot of liquid in there. Set aside and let cool.
8 oz. cream cheese
1-2 Tbsp sugar, to taste
1 tsp lemon flavoring or vanilla, whichever you prefer
Combine all these ingredients in a small bowl, mix until smooth. Set aside.
Now back to the dough: Gently press the risen dough into a rectangle, smear half of the remaining butter (about 2 tablespoons) onto 2/3 of the dough, then fold the dough into thirds like a letter, then repeat with the remaining butter, this will layer the butter into the dough. Let rest in the fridge for a few minutes.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle, cut in half to make 2 rectangles, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the middle 3rd of the rectangles, half on each piece of dough, then spread the blueberry mixture over the cheese, half on each piece. Cut 1 inch tabs at an angle along the two sides of the rectangles. Alternate folding the tabs over the middle, to make something that looks like a braid. Cover with plastic, let it raise in the fridge until they are risen a bit. They will also do a lot of rising in the oven so they don't need to be huge.
Brush with an egg wash or milk just before baking. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes or a little longer (I lost track of how long the second one was in, and it didn't collapse as much as the first one, which is the cooked one pictured. Let the loaves cool before slicing.