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Holiday Braids

Total Time

Prep: 40 min. + rising Bake: 15 min.

Makes

2 loaves (12 slices each)

Once you slice into one of these braids, it’ll disappear quickly. The cream cheese, brown sugar and fruit tucked inside the flaky crust is an unforgettable combination. You’ll be happy this recipe makes two loaves!—Sally Hook, Montgomery, Texas
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • FILLING:
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the eggs, butter, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, orange zest and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. On greased baking sheets, roll each portion into a 15x9-in. rectangle. Spread filling down the center of each; sprinkle with pecans and cranberries.
  5. On each long side, cut 3/4-in.-wide strips about 2 in. into center. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling. Pinch ends to seal. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  6. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over braids. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 282 calories, 12g fat (5g saturated fat), 65mg cholesterol, 178mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 2g fiber), 5g protein.

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