I always want to have a wonderful breakfast on Christmas morning. Something special that we don’t usually have that warms and fills our bellies until dinner time. The problem with this is we start opening stockings and presents and then don’t realize we are hungry until we are really hungry. I can’t start beforehand because then I miss those precious moments when Caroline, and soon George, come down the stairs and see everything for the first time. So, besides telling everyone to eat a few cookies and keeping chugging the eggnog, I’ve got to prep breakfast in advance. Since I’ve start doing this our Christmas mornings have been a lot less stressful and we can enjoy the morning and ourselves before the dinner prep begins and our extended family arrives.
This danish is great because you can assemble it the day before, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning simply remove, pre-heat oven, and bake. You’ll have something special to offer your family and the braid just gives you bonus presentation points!
Cheese Danish Braid
For the sponge:
- 6 Tbsp very warm 1% low-fat milk (120-130 F)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 pkg quick-rise yeast
- 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 7.9 oz unbleached all-purpose flour, divided (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 2.25 oz whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light sour cream
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- Cooking spray
For the filling:
- 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Dash of salt
- 1 tsp water
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp 1% low-fat milk
- 2 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
To prepare sponge, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand 15 minutes.
To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour and pastry flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, sour cream, butter, salt, vanilla, 1 egg, and sponge in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until well combined. Add flours; beat at low speed 3 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes), adding remaining 1.15 ounces all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indention remains, dough has risen enough.)
To prepare filling, combine cream cheese and the next 4 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle on lightly floured parchment paper. Spread cream cheese mixture down center of dough, leaving about a 5-inch border on each side and a 1-inch border at top and bottom of rectangle. Make 5-inch cuts about 1 inch apart on both sides of dough to meet filling using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Remove 4 outer corner strips of dough from rectangle; discard. Fold top and bottom 1-inch portions of dough over filling. Fold strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling. Press ends to seal. Transfer braid and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 1 teaspoon water and 1 egg; stir with a whisk. Brush braid with egg mixture. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.
Combine powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons milk in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over braid; sprinkle with nuts.
Per serving: 224 Calories, 7.9g Fat, 6.3g Protein, 32.2g Carbohydrate, 1.5g Fiber, 50mg Cholesterol, 1.5mg Iron, 218mg Sodium, 63mg Calcium.
Source: Cooking Light November 2013