Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple Pie Bread Braid & Strawberry Cream Cheese Braid

Sue and I have been going a little crazy preparing for a bake sale we are holding. It is going to be held on the Thanksgiving weekend so we were trying to do some Thanksgiving-y things for people to buy to take to their family dinners.
We did some of the usual, you know - pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee cake, apple crumbles - but thought we'd go a little outside the box and make some not-so-Thanksgiving-y treats as well.
I had some homemade apple pie filling leftover from making Dutch Apple Pie Cookies so I thought I would make a pretty bread braid. I always love the way they look. They look so fancy when they are actually really simple to put together.
I also had a mega-jar of strawberry jam that I thought might make a tasty braid as well.
Using quick-rise yeast you can have both of these braids made in about 2 hours.
Apple Pie Bread Braid and Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread Braid
Apple Filling
2 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
Strawberry Filling
1/2 pkg cream cheese, softened (about 4 oz)
3/4 cup strawberry jam
5 - 7 cups of flour, divided
2 envelopes quick rise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
sprinkle of sugar
Apple Filling - In a large bowl, toss apples and lemon juice. Pour water into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to water and stir well.
Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add apples and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 5 - 8 minutes. Scrape apple mixture into a bowl and place in fridge to cool.
Strawberry Filling - In a small bowl, beat softened cream cheese with a fork until easily spreadable. Measure jam into measuring cup and stir with fork to make more spreadable.
Bread - In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat buttermilk, sugar, and butter until warm (about 120 degrees). Remove from heat and whisk in eggs. Beat into flour mixture.
Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Dump onto flour surface and knead for about 4 - 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
To Assemble the Braid - Cut dough in half. Roll half of the dough into an approx 15 X 10 rectangle. Divide dough into thirds, lengthwise so you know where the middle third will be. (I like to very lightly draw the lines with a butter knife so I know where the thirds are. Be very careful not to cut into the dough - you just want to make a little indent.)
Spread the middle with either the apple filling or the strawberry and cream cheese filling (cream cheese first and then top with jam) to within an inch of the top and bottom.
Using a sharp knife, cut the 2 sides into approx 1 inch strips. Fold up end of dough and then braid strips across filling. (See photos below)
The above pic is the apple pie filling.
This pic is the strawberry cream cheese filling.
Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush top of bread with melted butter using a pastry or basting brush. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Repeat with second half of bread dough.
Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375. Bake for approx 20 - 25 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before attempting to remove. If you try while it is too hot it may fall apart.
I sprinkled the apple pie braid (above) with a bit of cinnamon too so I could tell the 2 apart.
See....they look pretty similar.
I don't have a photo of this sliced as it is going to be for sale in the bake sale. Trust me when I say, it is really pretty.
You could, of course, fill this with almost anything... lemon curd, mini marshmallows & choc chips & graham cracker crumbs, any pie filling, etc...
It isn't really a dessert per se, but it is really nice when you have company over though as a snack with coffee or even for breakfast.

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