You can even prepare this braid in advance: just complete all steps to assemble the braid, cover it with plastic wrap on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate overnight. Set it out on the counter in the morning as the oven preheats, egg wash it, and then bake as usual. I included some photos below the recipe on my blog that show the process of marking and assembling a Raspberry Almond Braid to show the process of assembly. It's super easy to do, but a little fiddly to explain in just words. So click over if you need to see the photos.
|Pumpkin and Pecan Pie Pastry Braid|
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 2 braids, or about 18-20 servings
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
6 ounces cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup milk, minus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash
Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
Pecan Pie Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (to taste)
sprinkling of cinnamon (optional)
Make the pumpkin pie filling: Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the pumpkin, melted butter, and heavy cream and mix to combine. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Add the egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger and beat to combine. Set this in the fridge to firm up a bit.
Make the pecan pie filling: whisk together maple syrup, brown sugar, egg, sugar, melted butter, flour, and vanilla extract. Fold in nuts. Set this in the fridge.
Make pastry braids: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 pulses). Add the milk and almond extract and blend until it's just starting to come together into a loose dough.
Divide the dough evenly between two big sheets of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just 4-5 strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.) Set one half of the dough aside while you make your first braid with the other half.
Very lightly flour the top of the dough and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough to an 10- by 12-inch rectangle (I lift the paper off every now and then and flip the dough and repeat on the other side, to ensure the dough isn’t sticking). Remove the top sheet of parchment and discard. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread your pumpkin pie filling down the middle third of the dough — try to keep your filling about 1/4 inch from the mark on both sides, but realistically, it'll ooze a little no matter what. Don't worry too much. Gently dollop pecan pie filling on top of the pumpkin pie filling, trying to get equal parts nuts and goop.
Continue assembling the braids: (Remember, there are photos below to help visualize this step!) Make diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center filling area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in an alternating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet. Repeat this process with your other batch of dough. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braids overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
Bake the braids: Brush the pastry braids with the egg wash mixture. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 14-18 minutes, until the dough is cooked through, the filling is set, and the top is very lightly browned. Let the braid cool slightly while you make your glaze.
Glaze the braids: Whisk together glaze ingredients and drizzle over the braid. You'll use all the glaze on the two braids. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon and serve immediately.
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