Have you ever found a recipe that you really wanted to make, only to read it and find out that you have to make a yeasted dough?
I have more than a few such recipes. I'm ashamed to say that a lot of the time, these recipes remain unbaked in my house.
There's a couple of reasons why this recipe should make it to your must-make-now list...
First of all, the dough is pretty simple. Yes, it's multi-stepped, but I break it all down for you AND you can do it over the course of two days.
Secondly, this baby is a showstopper and quite impressive to serve to friends. Or if your attending a holiday party. Or if your answering the door to the UPS man. Whoever!
Again, as much as I love to bake, I can sometimes be intimidated when faced with the task of making a yeasted dough.
This dough, however, is very forgiving. Every time I've made this, it's turned out amazing.
On day one, make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, fill it, then shape it and throw it in the fridge.
On day two, remove it from the fridge and allow it to do it's second rise while sitting on your counter for a couple of hours. Bake it up and your ready to eat.
Let's talk filling. This braid is filled with a mixture of cream cheese, pumpkin, dried cranberries, and warming pumpkin pie spices.
This braid has fall written all over it!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Braid
For the dough:
13 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup water warmed to 110 degrees F
2 Tbsp active dry yeast (2 envelopes)
2/3 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup apple cider
2 large eggs lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash
1 tsp Kosher salt
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
For the filling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, divided
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
Butter a large bowl. Set aside. Stir warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in apple cider, 2 eggs, remaining 2/3 cup sugar, 8 tablespoons of butter, and salt. With the dough attachment, start to stir in flour on low speed 1 cup at a time (add up to 1 cup additional flour if needed), until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a buttered bowl and brush dough with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
I put mine in a warm corner, free from drafts, on my counter top.
Meanwhile, stir granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Next, stir cream cheese, pumpkin, confectioners sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in dried cranberries. Set aside.
Line a sheet pan with parchment and set aside. Punch down dough.
Divide dough in half, setting aside one of the halves for later use (I wrapped mine tightly in plastic wrap and placed in the freezer).
Roll out remaining dough half into an 11-by-15 inch rectangle.
Brush with 2 tablespoons of butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar.
Spread filling evenly over cinnamon mixture.
Beginning at one long end, tightly roll the dough into a log, encasing filling. Pinch the seam to seal.
Carefully transfer log to prepared baking sheet. With a sharp knife, make 5 cuts, about 3 inches apart, along one long side of log, cutting three-quarters of the way across.
Lift the first segment, turn it cut side up, and lay it flat.
Repeat with next segment, twisting so it sits on the opposite side of roll.
Continue down log, alternating sides.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with racks on upper and lower thirds. Loosely cover dough with buttered pieces of plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Brush dough with egg wash, avoiding filling. Bake on upper rack until cooked through and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Mine baked for 38 minutes. Carefully slide parchment onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
-If you'd like to bake the following day, refrigerate before 2nd rise then remove from refrigerator at least 2 hours before baking to allow dough to fully rise
-There are so many great things you could do with your second half of dough...cinnamon rolls, pastry twists, another braid with different fillings, or repeat this one...the choices are endless!