Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all!
I hope everyone had a Thanksgiving with company that made you happy, food that made you full, and relaxation that rejuvenated you.
My family has about a million people at the Thanksgiving table. I’m barely exaggerating. For the sake of brevity, I won’t even start on the spectacle of chaos that is our feast, but suffice it to say that if you are looking for tranquility or space, it will not be found at the dinner served at my Grandparents’ house.
With such throngs of people, it is necessary to do some put-lucking and my contribution dish this year was a dessert bread. I actually made this once before in the summertime, but modified it to make it more appropriate for the fall and Thanksgiving season. (Originally the recipe called for a Lemon Curd and I replaced it with a Cranberry Lemon Curd.)
The recipe seems long and in-depth, but it’s not as complicated as it initially seems and a good portion of time is spent just waiting for the dough to rise, so be sure to give yourself adequate time.
Braided Cranberry Curd Bread
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
6 T warm water (around 120 degrees)
1 t sugar
1 1/2 t instant yeast
1/4 c all-purpose flour
6 T sour cream (or yogurt)
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/4 c sugar
1 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
Pearl sugar (or regular sugar) for sprinkling
Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 c cream cheese, softened
3 T sugar
3 T sour cream
1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
3 T all-purpose flour
1/4 c cranberry lemon curd (see below)
- Make sponge. In a small bowl, combine sponge ingredients, stirring well to combine. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 10-15 minutes.
- Make dough by hand. Whisk together sour cream, butter, one egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in sponge.
- Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon and/or hands to form dough into a shaggy ball. On a well-floured counter, knead dough until a smooth, soft dough forms. This will take about 5-10 minutes.
- Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.
- Make the filling. While dough is rising, combine all filling ingredients except for Cranberry Lemon Curd in a small bowl, mixing until smooth. Set aside.
- Prepare Bread. Deflate dough and roll out onto a well-floured counter again and create a 10″x15″ rectangle. Transfer to a large piece of parchment paper. With the side of your hand press two lines lengthwise down the dough, creating three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center column, and spread the curd over the cream cheese. Leave the top inch or two free from the filling.
- On the side portions (the thirds that do not have filling on them), use kitchen scissors to cut 1-inch strips, being careful to have an equal number on the right- and left-hand sides. This will wind up looking like little “legs” attached to the center “body” of the dough. Remove the four corner segments.
- This is not a real braided bread – it just looks that way. To “braid” the dough, first fold down the top of the center portion which should not have any filling on it. Next, take the top “leg” and bring it diagonally towards the opposite side, alternating sides and working your way down the entire loaf. Tuck the bottom center portion up and under braids as well.
- Transfer dough on parchment paper to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 45-50 minutes.
- Bake Bread. Preheat oven to 375. Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar (or regular sugar). Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Cranberry Lemon Curd
1 c cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 c water
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
- Combine cranberries and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 3 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. (Be sure it is not hot when you do this or the blender will be under pressure and you could have a big mess.) Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light in color, smooth, and creamy.
- Slowly add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute each time.
- Mix in lemon juice and cranberry mixture. It might look curdled, that is ok.
- Transfer to a saucepan and cook over low heat until smooth and any curdled appearance disappears. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until mixture thickens. This will take at least 15 minutes. Do not boil!
- Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly on surface.
- Refrigerate for up to a week.
I can attest to the deliciousness of this bread. And to the madness that we call Thanksgiving…