Hey there peoples, I’m back from vacation! I was really hoping I wouldn’t miss weekend brunch, but when I said that internet may be sketchy..I didn’t realize how sketchy. As it turns out, my cellphone provider only has coverage in St. John’s, so once we left that area my cellphone turned into an overpriced paperweight. I never thought I would be excited to stumble across random restaurants and cafes that have free wifi, but there ya have it. Besides for having to give up internet access for a week (the horror!…I’m only half joking ;)) the vacation was pretty great. It’s been 6 years since I’ve been back to Newfoundland (plus my first time as a vegan) and we tried our best to squeeze in as much as we could into the short amount of time provided, next time we’ve already decided to book a longer trip. Between visiting with family and enjoying the sites, time went by in a blink. We’ve only been back for a couple days and are already going through vacation withdrawal
I only took cellphone pics while I was there, but I’m still hoping to do up a little post about our trip. Eating out was a challenge at times but it never hurts to share both the good and bad about a place, you never know who might be planning a trip there! Well enough about that for now, we need to get to sweet delicious brunch goodness. I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m kind of cheating here, this brunch was made a few weeks ago, did I need to tell you that? Of course not! But I’m weird and just can’t lie to you! It’s just one of those endearing and super annoying traits I have. But whateves, if you make this you won’t care about when the hell I made it, all you’ll care about is getting it in your mouth right effing now!
I love cherries. Not as much as raspberries but we won’t tell the cherries that. Oh, and summer. Summer rocks. You know why? Because you can buy cherries. Fresh, tasty, juicy (and in my case) B.C. cherries. But then sometimes you buy way too many cherries and as much as you want to eat every single one of them, you just can’t get them in your stomach fast enough and then you start to fear that they may go bad. Then they go bad and sadness ensues (queue the violins). I couldn’t bear to see any more beautiful cherries go funky, so to prevent my inevitable devastation I took my remaining cherries and made compote, problem solved! Now I have to say that my initial response was to eat it all with a spoon (there’s that stupid truth trait again), but then I came up with a better idea! After eating SOME of it with a spoon (come on, I couldn’t pass that up) I got the strong urge to get my bake on, but no simple muffin was going to cut it….ok, I made muffins too but that’s for another day…this go around I wanted to make something yeasty, sweet, filled with super noms and pretty to look at to boot. The only answer was braided bread.
Cherry compote, sweet cream cheese all wrapped up in a simple buttery yeasted braid, that’s really not that hard to make I might add. For realz, like with all things filled with yeasty beasties, all you need is time and maybe a little patience. Being an inpatient crankypants ain’t gonna get you anywhere with this recipe . This bread turned out all kinds of crazy good! No lie. To make it extra purdy I sprinkled some turbinado sugar and sliced almonds on mine before baking for some sweet crunchiness. My braiding skills aren’t quite as amazing as I hoped they’d be, but when I’m putting warm, soft, cherry filled bread in my mouth, I couldn’t give two sweet forks, and neither will you! To help you along, I tried to take some pictures of the folding process, because I’m pretty sure I’m lacking in the “explaining things” department and my instructions will confuse the hell out of you, so if need be don’t be afraid to ask me to break down the jibberish I have written below 😉 Once you finish baking this you should have a golden brown mouthwatering loaf that will make you feel like you need to get thee to some fancy tea party asap…but eating it over the sink is a pretty sweet alternative 😉
CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CHEESE BRAIDED BREAD
- 2 ounces (1/3 cup) warm water
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1.25 ounces (1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
- All of the sponge
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) margarine, softened (Earth Balance buttery sticks)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) plain non-dairy yogurt
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) full fat coconut milk
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 17.5 to 23 ounces (3 to 4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- “egg wash” or soy milk for brushing braid
- Turbinado sugar and sliced almonds for sprinkling on braid
- 3 ounces (1/3 cup) non-dairy cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup prepared cherry compote (recipe below)
- In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sponge, margarine, yogurt, coconut milk, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extract. Add 17.5 ounces (3 cups) of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough and shaggy. Switch to the dough hook and mix on low until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency. The dough should be tacky but not sticky.
- Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients (except the cherry compote) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and cherry compote until ready to fill the braids.
- Gently deflate the dough roll it out into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier.
- Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Leaving a 1″ space on all sides of the filling, spread the cream cheese filling down the center section:
- Top with the cherry compote:
- To form the mock braid, cut 1″ crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side.
- Remove the corner pieces, you can freeze these dough scraps if you’d like. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf
- Loosely over loaf with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with coconut milk or vegan egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and sliced almonds, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
- 11 ounces (about 2 cups) pitted sweet cherries
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Combine the cherries and sweetener in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix together the water and cornstarch, add to the cherries and cook for another few minutes or until thickened.
- Mash the mixture lightly with a fork to break some of the cherries up if you’d like. Remove from heat and stir in the extract. Cool. Compote will keep in the fridge for about a week.