Sometimes I wonder if I bake too much with strawberries. But this is a special bread. A braided one. Beautifully made. So when I came across with this recipe, I couldn’t help but started to whip up the dough and dig out a jar of strawberry jam from the fridge. Go ahead if you would like to stick with the original recipe and use lemon curd. But I do think you could fill your bread with anything – Nutella, fresh berries, chocolate chips, apple sauce……
Ingredients (one big loaf):
6 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoon sour cream or plain yoghurt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sesame
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup strawberry jam
In a small bowl, combine water, 1 teaspoon sugar, yeast and 1/4 cup flour. Stir well to combine. Cover with tea towel, and set aside to proof for 15 minutes.
Combine the yeast mixture with the remaining bread ingredients (except sesame) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 1/2 cup flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft and smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with tea towel, and allow to rise for 90 minutes, until the dough almost doubles in size.
While the dough is rising, combine all the filling ingredients (except the jam) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve until ready to fill the bread.
Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. Lightly dividing it into three equal column with the side of your hand. Spread cream cheese filling on the center section, leaving the top and bottom 2″ free of filling. Spread the strawberry jam over the cream cheese filling.
To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips 1″ apart down the length of the outer columns of your dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1″ strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper. Remove the four corner segments. To braid, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternation strips until you are out.
Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with tea towel and set it aside to rise for 50 minutes, until quite puffy.
Preheat oven to 375F. Brush the loaf with egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.