Almond Coconut Pastry Braid
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, inspired by Luna's Cafe
Yield: 6-8 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
8 tablespoons butter, softened
⅓ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
dash of salt
½ teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3½ ounces almond paste, frozen until firm and then grated with hand grater
¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
1-2 tablespoon milk (to thin to drizzling consistency)
toasted coconut for topping
Make the filling: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Mix in the salt and coconut extract. Beat in the egg until just combined. Fold in the sweetened coconut and almond paste flakes.
Make the pastry braid: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, powdered sugar, 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.
Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each very lightly for just a few 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.) Very lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it out to a 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread the butter mixture over the middle third of the dough.
Continue assembling the braid: (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, brushing any excess flour off as you go. It will now resemble a braid. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet.
Bake and glaze the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg wash mixture and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until the dough is really golden on top and the filling is set. After allowing the braid to cool for around 30 minutes, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond and coconut extracts, and milk in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. Drizzle over the top of the braid. Top with toasted coconut and serve!