Monday, 31 May 2010

Red, White, and Blue Cream Cheese Braid

Bread Baking Day #30 is being hosted by Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. Her choice this month was Breads with a Twist.  What a neat idea!  I had a hard time choosing which one to make because there are so many yummy twisted breads to choose from.

This has been a crazy month for me, but I've been trying to make at least one bread from each of my bread-baking groups.  I almost ran out of time before I got to this one.

Never fear, I saved the best for last! My contribution to BBD #30 is a Rhubarb Cream Cheese Braid.

I thought about making the lemon braid because it sounded so good, but I wanted to make something in honor of Memorial Day.  I decided to use the Rhubarb Orange Jam I made earlier this month for the tigress can jam instead of lemon curd because the rhubarb jam is red.  With the red (rhubarb), and white (cream cheese filling), I almost had all of the colors of the U.S. Flag. Now, all I needed was the blue.  So, I added some blueberries on top before serving.

And, there you have it! My Red, White and Blue Bread for Memorial Day! Yummy!  Yummy!

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Braided Lemon Bread recipe.

Makes: 2 large loaves or 4 smaller loaves


  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  • All of the sponge
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt  (I used vanilla yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • egg wash for brushing braid
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on braid

Cream cheese filling

  • 2/3 cup cream cheese, softened (I used fat-free)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb jam


In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.

Instead of using my mixer, I chose to do this with my bread machine.

I added all of the wet ingredients first, beginning with the sponge. Then, I added the dry ingredients. And set the machine on the dough cycle. I had to add more flour while the machine was kneading the dough, because it was really hot and humid here.

I added a little bit of flour at a time until the dough was a soft, supple consistency. Then, I just let the cycle complete itself.  This made things so easy!  I was able to run some errands while I was waiting for it to finish.

Preparing the Filling

While the machine is doing it's thing, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients (except the jam) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. The problem with using fat-free cream cheese is that it doesn't get very soft so it wasn't smooth.  It was more like cottage cheese, but I decided not to worry about it.  Reserve the filling and jam until ready to fill the braids.

Shaping the Loaves

Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half.

I followed the recipe for the first loaf. 

Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier. Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the jam, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.

To form the mock braid, cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.

Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Here is the finished first loaf.  It was huge.  It tasted delicious, but you couldn't really see the rhubarb and it just had a hint of flavor.  I wanted more flavor so...

I decided to do the second loaf a little bit different.

I started by cutting the dough in half again.  Then I rolled it out to a smaller rectangle. Instead of dividing it into 3 separate sections, I just spread the cream cheese filling down the middle.

Then, I spread the rhubarb jam over the cream cheese filling.  I used more cream cheese filling and jam this time to give it more flavor and color.

Then, I cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections.

To form the braid, criss-cross the strips over each other down the length of the bread.

I had to do a little bit of tucking to make sure the jam wouldn't ooze out the end of the braid.

Then I covered the braid with wax paper and let it rise for about 45 minutes.

Now, it was time to bake it.  I brushed the loaf with the egg wash.

Then I sprinkled raw sugar over the top.

And baked it for 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees oven.  My oven is a little bit hot so I reduced it from the 375 in the recipe.

Here is one end of the finished loaf.

Here is the other end. 

It was delicious!  I gave the first loaf to my boyfriend.  He really liked that version!  I kept the second loaf. 

Thanks for visiting The Bread Experience Bread-Baking Blog. I hope you enjoyed your visit and will join me again next time.

Be sure to check out all of the fabulous breads in the
BBD #30 Roundup.

This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

Happy Baking!


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