I’d have to delve deep into my awkward pre-teens to explain my connection with the movie Caddyshack. At one time in my life I could quote it from beginning to end – a testament less to stellar intellectual or memorization skills and more to the vast number of hours I spent saturating myself with the movie. Hours I will never be able to retrieve. However, it must be said: there are some damn funny moments in that movie. What does all this have to do with pastries? Save for the nonsensical (my favorite type of humor) quote above, absolutely nothing.
Now. This delicious gem of a recipe came – totally free! – in the March 2012 King Arthur Flour catalog. Yes, there is some labor involved. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving it a try, and some of the steps can be done ahead of time. It is so, so very tasty and absolutely beautiful. It would be a real stunner at a brunch for guests or on a special Sunday (Mother’s Day, I’m looking at you!). Or to paraphrase Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack – Carl Spackler – you don’t even need a reason to make this. The original recipe calls for a cream cheese and lemon curd filling. Obviously I messed with the “cream” part of cream and though lemon curd is awesome, I really thought blueberries would be perfect in this. So – change up the filling to what you like. Raspberries would taste really yummy in this. Maybe next time. As ever, I veganized and used unrefined sugars instead of the white stuff.
Blueberry Cream Braid
Makes 2 generous loaves
For the bread:
3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. instant yeast
1/2 cup AP flour
all of the sponge (above)
3/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
1/2 cup vegan “butter”
2 tbsp. egg replacer + 6 tbsp. water (whisk together until frothy, then set aside)
1/2 cup maple sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
3+ cups AP flour
Tofu “cream” (see below)
Blueberry sauce (see below)
1 tbsp. vegan “butter,” melted (for brushing braids)
Demerara sugar, for dusting braids
Make the sponge and dough:
In a large bowl, combine the sponge ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.
When the sponge is ready, add the dough ingredients and knead until smooth and elastic. You may need to add more AP flour to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Place the dough in a large bowl that’s been sprayed with cooking oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Make the tofu “cream”:
6 oz. silken tofu
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4-1/2 tsp. liquid stevia or maple syrup, to taste
1/2 tsp. vanilla
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the tofu “cream” ingredients and process until very smooth. Set aside until ready to assemble the braid. Make a few days ahead and store in the refrigerator to speed up the braid process.
Make the blueberry sauce:
1/2 lb. fresh blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tbsp. orange juice or water
You might recognize this sauce from the Orange Poppyseed Waffle recipe a while back. I knew it would be perfect in this recipe! In a small saucepan combine the blueberries through the maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/2 tbsp. orange juice or water and add to the blueberry mixture. Stir until mixture thickens. Set aside until ready to assemble the braid. You can make this several days ahead – just store in the refrigerator.
Below are photos that break down the way to create this “braid.” It looks complicated, but really isn’t. You and your family will be so impressed with the results, that the time and effort will have been totally worth it!
Assemble and bake:
One: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375F. Divide the risen dough in two pieces. Working with one piece at a time (cover the remaining piece), flatten and roll it into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Lightly “draw” lines on the dough dividing it into thirds. You aren’t cutting the dough at this point, just marking it so you know where to put the filling and where to later cut the braid strips.
Tip: Roll the dough directly on parchment paper rather than on the counter. This will make moving the dough much easier than trying to pry up the braided product – as I had to do – with Kel’s help and 3 spatulas. Hence the funny curve in one of the braids. So: roll the dough into a rectangle, then gently transfer it to a baking sheet. Complete the assembly right on the baking sheet.
Two: Spread some of the tofu “cream” down the center of the dough. I eyeballed the amount. You’ll probably have “cream” left over – don’t worry, you’ll find some delicious use for it.
Three: Spread some of the blueberry filling over the “cream.” Again, I eyeballed it. Save the leftovers for your pancakes and waffles.
Four: Make cuts along the edges of the dough to within 1/2″ of the filling, every 3/4″ to 1″ all the way down the length of the dough. Cut out the little piece of dough from each corner so that you can fold the top and bottom ends of the dough over the filling.
Five: Starting at one end, pull the cut strips up and over the filling, alternating sides.
Six: Cover the braid and repeat the whole process with the other portion of dough. Allow the braids to rise for 45-90 minutes – or until nice and puffy. Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 375F towards the end of the rise.
Brush the braids with a little bit of melted “butter,” and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. The tops should be a beautiful brown.