Tuesday, January 11, 2011
This is for you, Kristina! By a popular demand, here is the very first desert, a must have with tea of coffee when your friends or family come over.
At first glance difficult to make, this sweet bread-cake is quite easy to make.
It has a filling. I created several different fillings over time. Some of my favorites are cream cheese-raisin-raspberry jam filling, apple pie filling, cottage cheese-jam filling. The possibilities are endless, fill it with whatever you like. That is what I did. And it keeps on changing depending on the event. For example, for Christmas, I did poppy seed-raisin filling, as it's custom in Lithuania to bake with poppy seed for this time of year.
This dough recipe is made in steps.
You will need:
2 large eggs
jam (I like raspberry)
Pearl sugar for sprinkling (optional)
This is what you need to buy or to have in order to make this cake.
6 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant east
1/4 cup unbleached flour (just regular flour you use for baking)
To make a sponge. In a small bowl combine the sponge ingredients, stir well, loosely cover with plastic cover (let it breath), and set aside to proof for 15-20 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. After some time, you will notice, the sponge has risen, is light and fluffy.
6 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup (about 4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs (1 for the dough, 1 for the cream cheese filling, 1 beaten with 1 tbsp of water for brushing at the end)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (don't put all at once, this is just a guide, but depending on your products, you may need more or less)
pearl sugar, if you have any, optional
To make dough. Whisk together sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in sponge. Add the flour and mix with wooden spoon. Finish with hands. Kneed on the counter, for about 5-10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I just wash the one my dough was at the beginning), cover with plastic loosely and allow to rise 60-90 minutes, until it is quite puffy and nearly doubled in size.
Filling: Take one brick of cream cheese, add one egg and 1/3 of cup of sugar and beat it with the mixer. Add raisins (also optional)
To prepare the bread
Gently deflate the dough and roll out on a parchment paper on the counter.This is very important, otherwise you won't be able to transfer your finished product to the baking pan! Make a rectangle that the width you could easily divide in three, like 12 inches, 15 inches. No need to make any bigger. The length orientate on how long your baking dish is. I do it about 18-20 inches. So my rectangle is 12 by 18 inches. Divide your rectangle in three horizontally, or the 12 inches side. Cut in at the top, then proceed barely making a mark 'till the end. The outer sides, not touching the middle part, cut into stripes. About finger or so thick. Refer to the picture, as it may seem confusing at first. Cut into stripes both sides, making sure you have an even number. You will have to fold them later, like a braid.
Once you have your bread ready, on the parchment paper, add the filling in the middle part of it. Add jam, if using. Now, fold the middle part and start braiding one by one your strips. Before you finish with the last one, fold the middle little piece and then put the last strips on top. It will look nicer. Brush with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Once the strips are ready and braided, carefully transfer with parchment paper to the baking sheet. Let rise for 50-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.
To freeze. When the braid is braided, with the parchment paper, wrap well and freeze for up to a week. It also can be refrigerated (for a day). If freezing, put in the fridge before letting it rise for the last time. When ready to bake, take it out and let it rise then. This recipe can be easily doubled.