Just about every family has their own set of traditional holiday recipes that only appear at that time of year. My family is no exception! We have recipes that are very special and make only at Christmastime. The recipe I have for you in today’s column is one of those special recipes, “Cream Cheese Braid.” This is a recipe my family has enjoyed for years and we only have it at Christmastime. It’s usually served on Christmas Eve morning and enjoyed over the next few days. This recipe is always made twice to guarantee enough for everyone!
The recipe is a bit involved, but not hard to prepare. It does require some advanced preparation, however. You begin with the yeast dough. You heat sour cream until it’s warm and add sugar, salt and melted butter. Meantime, you dissolve dry yeast in warm water. Flour, along with eggs, the sour cream mixture and the dissolved yeast is added and mixed to form a dough. If you have a heavy-duty electric mixer, it works very well with making this dough. The dough is now covered and refrigerated overnight. This is an important step, as the dough will be too soft and sticky to work with at this point.
The cream cheese filling is a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla extract. This is creamed together and when you roll out your dough, this mixture is spread over it. Then, the sheet of dough is folded and the edges sealed. This is placed on a baking sheet and the dough is scored with a sharp knife to resemble at braid. This now rises until it’s doubled. After it bakes at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes, a confectioner’s sugar glaze goes over the braids, consisting of confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla extract. This is drizzled over each braid. You now have four luscious braids for enjoyment with coffee or tea or for gift-giving.
A variation on the flavor for this bread is to use lemon extract instead of vanilla extract. I’ve made it both ways and my family prefers the vanilla version best. When rolling the dough, make sure to dust your work surface and your rolling pin well with flour, as this dough will still be a bit sticky. Just keep your work area dusted as you roll and the dough will roll out well. I use a ruler to measure the rectangles to make certain they’re not too big or too small. These are luscious and will be a recipe you’ll remember!
If you would rather not deal with yeast, I shared a recipe for a “Cinnamon Pecan Coffeecake” sometime ago that’s wonderful, easy to do and would also be great for the holidays. To get this recipe, click on the embedded link. It’s a special recipe and you’ll see why when you read the article.
Start a new Christmas tradition in your family with this fabulous yeast coffeecake!
CREAM CHEESE BRAID
- 1 C. Sour Cream
- 1/2 C. Sugar
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Stick Butter, melted
- 2 envelopes Dry Yeast
- 1/2 C. Warm Water
- 2 Eggs
- 4 C. Plain Flour
Heat sour cream until lukewarm; stir in sugar, salt, and melted butter; dissolve yeast in warm water; in large mixing bowl, combine yeast mixture, sour cream mixture, eggs, and flour; mix well; cover tightly and chill overnight.
Divide dough into 4 equal portions; on a floured surface, roll each part into a 12″ x 8″ rectangle; spread 1/4 of the cream cheese filling (recipe below) on each rectangle; roll up jellyroll fashion; pinch edges together and fold ends under; place on greased baking sheets; slit each roll with a sharp knife to resemble a braid; cover and let rise at room temperature until double in size; bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes; let cool slightly before removing to a cooling rack; drizzle with vanilla glaze (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 2 (8 oz) pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
- 3/4 C. Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1/8 tsp. Salt
- 2 Tsp. Vanilla
Cream together cheese and sugar; add egg and beat; add salt and vanilla and beat again.
- 2 C. Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1/4 C. Milk
- 2 Tsp. Vanilla
Combine all ingredients and mix well.