Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Braid

 I have been wanting to make a breakfast braid for a very long time, but never actually got around to it. Breakfast braids are supposed to be served at breakfast, but most of the recipes out there require you to get up at the crack of dawn to get something in your belly before lunch time. I finally found a perfect recipe over at Willow Bird Baking where you can assemble the braid in the evening, and bake it in the morning. Combined with a flavor combination I was drooling over at Barbara Bakes, this braid was the utter perfect addition to our Christmas morning breakfast (Yeah, I know, its February, so what?). 
This is roll your eyes back and moan at the first bite good. I really should have made two, because after everyone’s slice was gone, we all wanted a second. There might have been a little bit of fighting over crumbs left on the baking tray (but not too much, it was Christmas after all). I know you probably won’t be able to find any fresh cranberries this time of year, but this recipe will easily lend itself to any flavors you want – swap out vanilla for almond extract if you want, use whatever fruit you want, be they fresh, frozen, or preserves. This would be an amazing breakfast for Valentine’s Day! Or any Saturday!

Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Braid (adapted from recipes by Barbara Bakes and Willow Bird Baking)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cranberry Preserves: (You can replace this with any preserves you want, or even use dried cranberries, too)
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
zest from 1/2 an orange

Citrus Sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp orange zest

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
5 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cranberry Preserves:
In a small saucepan, mix all the ingredients for the preserves together and allow to simmer over medium-high heat until the cranberries begin to burst. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool. It will thicken as it cools. 
Cream Cheese Filling:
Mix together the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla and beat until creamy and smooth.

Set aside while you make your braid.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt (this is really easy if you do it in a food processor.
Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and mix just enough to distribute the fats (about 6 pulses if using a food processor).
Add the milk and vanilla and blend into a loose dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly for 4-5 strokes (if you overwork it, the pastry will become tough. Just gather it together, don’t worry about making it smooth. It will still look a little rough, but that is right where you want it).

Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough to an 8×12″ rectangle.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and remove the waxed paper.
Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds.
Spread the preserves down the middle third of the dough and spread a thick line of cream cheese mixture on either side of the preserves (still inside the middle third).
Make slightly diagonal cuts at 1 inch intervals along both the outside thirds (see the photo). Do not cut into the center filled area.

Fold the strips, first one side and then the other (kind of like you are braiding) over the filling.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight (if you want. You can just bake this now!)

Pull the braid out of the fridge and allow it to set on the counter to warm up while your oven heats up (if you refrigerated it overnight).
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the citrus sugar and sprinkle evenly over the braid.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly browned.
Remove the pan from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the lemon glaze and drizzle over the still warm (but not hot) braid.
Cut into strips and serve.

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  • Reply
    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
    February 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    It came out so gorgeous! And what a delicious flavor combo! I'm so glad you enjoyed it 😀 Love me a breakfast braid!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Thanks Julie!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Barbara Bakes
    February 4, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    What a fantastic flavor combination. Perfect for Christmas. We would have licked the plate clean too. Thanks for the link love!

  • Reply
    Ness [Six One and Then Some]
    February 4, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    I had no idea that such a thing existed… and now I'm in trouble cos it looks like something I'll have to make more than once! 😉

  • Reply
    February 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    I love this, Jenni! Everything you make and bake makes my mouth water. This one is bookmarked! The next installment of my gooey love story, will be up tomorrow, believe it or not! I'm also hosting the next Bread Baking Day, so I hope you can take part!

  • Reply
    Katherine Martinelli
    February 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Oh wow!! This looks amazing. Thanks again for linking up at my breakfast blog hop! Also pinned 🙂

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