Eggnog and Cranberry Christmas Braid
3/4 eggnog, warmed to 110-115 degrees (bathwater warm)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
all of the sponge
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 – 5 cups Flour
egg wash for brushing braid*
Cream cheese filling
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup eggnog
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup prepared cranberry relish
For the sponge, combine the eggnog and yeast in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the mixture until the dough is rough and shaggy. Switch the paddle for the dough hook and knead the dough at medium speed for about 6 minutes, or until smooth, adding additional flour if needed.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 60 to 90 minutes or until about double in size.
While the dough is rising, prepare the cream cheese filling. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggnog, and flour. Set aside.
Gently deflate the dough and divide in two. Cover one of the halves with plastic wrap and set aside. Roll the remaining dough into a 10"X15" rectangle (do this over parchment paper or a silpat for easy transfer on to the baking sheet).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture down the center third of the dough. Top with 1/2 cup of the cranberry sauce.
Cut 1" crosswise strips down the sides of the rectangle. Starting from one end, bring one of the dough strips across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side, crisscrossing the dough strips. Continue down the rest of the braid, alternating strips to form the loaf. Repeat the rolling, filling and braiding with the second braid. Set both braids aside, cover lightly, and allow to rise for 45 to 60 minutes. Brush each loaf gently with an egg wash (one egg beaten with a pinch of salt). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle with Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting, if desired.
Pairs Well With
The grande finale to my 5 days of Christmas--Eggnog flavored cream cheese and tart cranberries all rolled up in a sweet dough. Who can resist?