Sunday Baking Makes For Good Eating
People think I am crazy when I tell them how I relax on the weekends….I knead dough, I watch yeast proof and bubble, I covet the rising of my loaves and delight in the smell pervading through the house. The week has been strange and hectic as I mentionned a couple of days ago and yet the only way I know to relax and recover from it is by making breakfast treats for us or the neighbors. I have got scones in the oven as we speak and we just devoured a half of this beautiful cream cheese braid you see up there.
It seems that I have done a lot more bread baking than actual dessert making this week but what you don’t see is the behind the scene…There was a couple of birthday cakes, a French croquembouche for a wedding rehearsal and a whole lot of chocolate making. Granted some weeks my kitchen ressembles more a bakery than a restaurant but I am ready for a change with a couple of great events that are coming up. I also have to confess that the weather has been so nice that I have been caught playing outside when I should have been doing more adult chores (paying bills, cleaning, etc…no fun!)
What is special about this braid…? The cream cheese replaces most of the butter and leaves you with a very soft dough, very creamy without being over the top. The same dough can be the base of multiple variations and I usually do a hazelnut or almond filling alonside this one because it seems that one is never enough!
The inspiration to replace the butter with the cream cheese came from this recipe. The Fresh Loaf is a mine of knowledge and ressources for novice or advanced bakers and this blueberry braid filled with all that creamy goodness made me want to incorporate the cream cheese in the dough to see if the flavor would mellow through it and if the dough would be nice and soft as a pillow. I also have to say that I was getting a little lazy with the whole rolling, spreading the cheese inside, braiding, etc… thus dumping the cheese in the Kitchen Aid alongside the butter. It worked one night and I never looked back!
Cream Cheese Braid, inspired from the Fresh Loaf:
Makes 2 braids
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tb. melted butter
For the sponge: mix the sugar, yeast, and flour together in bowl. Pour in the warm milk. Beat until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1/2 hour.
Add the eggs, salt, sugar, and one cup of the flour to the sponge. Beat until smooth. Then add the cream cheese and butter in small chunks and beat well. Add the remaining flour a handful at a time and mix in until you get a soft dough.
Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise and room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Deflate the dough, recover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge, deflate and divide in 2 equal pieces. For the braid, I divide one piece in too and twist them together (so not exactly the conventional braid, but at this point I can’t wait any longer!!). Place it on parchment paper lined baking sheet, allow to rise 45 minutes, brush with some egg was and bake at 375 for 20- 25 minutes.
Take out of the oven, and while it cools a little, prepare the glaze. Add enough milk to the powdered sugar and melted butter to make a soft spreadable glaze and our all that goodness on your braid…and go ahead and eat because after all that you really deserve it!
Do the same for the other braid, or roll out into a rectangle and fill with your avorite filling and braid it according to the recipe on the Fresh Loaf. The details are great and you can’t mess up, makes me wish I ad blueberries left because I have the other loaf awaiting its fate in the fridge…
Jenny March 11, 2007 um 5:00 pm
Brilynn March 11, 2007 um 6:02 pm
I love the creamcheese in the dough idea, I definitely want to give that a try.
jasmine March 11, 2007 um 7:44 pm
This looks fabulous. I too usually do some desstressing baking on Sundays. I meant to make some muffins today, but I’ve had too many things to do.
I might try this out instead…
Anonymous March 11, 2007 um 9:40 pm
Oh Helen, I fall in love with every single one of your posts and this is no exception! I have no kitchenaid though – will I still be able to make this, or is it too stiff to mix by hand?
Helene March 11, 2007 um 9:56 pm
Ellie: it is just going to be sticky and messy…but that can be fun too!
Brilynn: it makes it so smooth and soft…
Jasmine: I bake and stuff between laundry loads and dog walks on the weekends!
Mia March 11, 2007 um 10:08 pm
Yum! Here in Finland it’s fairly common to lighten up sweet doughs with either quark or, um, other sour milk products that don’t seem to exist outside Scandinavia, but I’ve never tried cream cheese!
And I know just what you mean about people thinking you’re crazy – I generally start prepping the Saturday night dinner right after breakfast. 😛
Unknown March 12, 2007 um 3:11 am
Helene, thank you for visiting my blog.
My gosh, this looks wonderful — I love cream cheese in baked goods. Your photos are great, too.
Cheryl March 12, 2007 um 1:13 pm
Cream cheese and bread, there isn’t a better combination. Fantastic again.
Patricia Scarpin March 12, 2007 um 2:03 pm
Helene, I’m here, pretending to be working every time my boss looks through the glass wall that separates us, but I want to go home running to bake!! Your bread is such an inspiration!
Next weekend I’ll make your dulce de leche bread, I’ve already bough loads of dulce de leche, my dad loves it and I’ll bake the bread for him!
Freya Erickson March 12, 2007 um 6:53 pm
And the cream cheese is healthier than butter so you can eat more it! Right?
Hélène (Cannes) March 12, 2007 um 7:25 pm
Ah, encore une fois, je meurs d’envie devant tes photos ! Cette idée du fromage frais à la place du beurre, c’est super-bien ! pour le week-end prochain.. Moi aussi, préparer pains et brioches bien levés le dimanche me détend. Nous, on les dévore au goûter ;o)
Anonymous March 13, 2007 um 1:04 am
See…I really need to figure how to become your neighbor :)! Looks delicious!
Anonymous March 13, 2007 um 3:19 pm
Oh helene, cream cheese in dough, that sounds heavenly! Oh, I heard kneading dough is therapeautic so it is definitely a way to relax.
MyKitchenInHalfCups March 13, 2007 um 4:57 pm
Now this is right up my ally! This looks wonderful and I really like the cream cheese as part of the dough.
Anonymous March 14, 2007 um 2:23 am
i just read about the fresh loaf in my newspaper, and it ran the article about no-knead bread.
your dish always look very delish! i don’t always bake on sundays, but when i do that means i won’t go anywhere for the day!
Ebonye March 14, 2007 um 4:51 pm
Thank you for the kind words, Helene. And I cannot wait to try this recipe. I think I’m going to take your cream cheese dough recipe and add the blueberry and cream cheese filling that was featured in the original recipe at The Fresh Loaf. Hopefully, it will turn out great! We’ll see, anyway. LOL
Renardgourmande March 28, 2007 um 3:56 am
Wow. I have made my bread a couple of times but since I’m back in the city I don’t feel like doing it anymore. I don’t have a stand-up mixer so the whole kneading process has to be made by hand….which I don’t like at all. But this brioche really got me interested and I might test it…..who knows.