Cream Cheese Braid

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The natural tanginess of cream cheese gives this bread a subtle but distinctive flavor, reminiscent of cheesecake.

Difficulty: Medium

Hands-on: 35 minutesTotal: 3 hours 55 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3½ tsp. active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, diced
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine water, honey, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Add 1 package cream cheese, butter, eggs, all-purpose flour, and ¾ teaspoon salt; stir to combine. Add enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8–10 minutes. Return to bowl, dust the top with flour, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface, divide into 4 equal portions, and form a 4-strand braid. Place onto prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Whisk egg white with remaining salt and brush the top of the risen loaf. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 30–40 minutes. Cool the loaf completely on a rack.
  • In a small bowl combine remaining package cream cheese with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Drizzle over bread before serving.