Recently Amy called me the “Queen of Blog Challenges.” I chuckled at that but the more I take on, the more I realize that title isn’t bestowed lightly. I really have my hands in everything! BakeTogether, Improv Challenge, Daring Bakers, Monthly Miettes, MacTweets, Muffin Monday, Secret Recipe Club and not to be forgotten, I run my own blog challenge monthly too with First On The First. Yikes! Quite the workload on top of all the things I do just cause the mood strikes. But I love each and every challenge I’m involved in for their unique niche and the creativity that they spark in me.
So when Barb mentioned that there was a new challenge in town how could I resist? When she mentioned the theme of the group was bread baking I was sold. Bread has been my nemesis for many moons now. Rather, I should say that yeast has been my nemesis. I’ve had my issues with it the past yet I keep revisiting breads pursing success which I’ve had on numerous occasions now. In fact, I recently had yeasted success with that Parmesan Sun Dried Tomato Bread. I want to be able to make many breads though and not be scared of the process.
With that in mind, I joined Twelve Loaves. This group was created by Lora of Cake Duchess to inspire people to bake more bread in their kitchens. Each month Lora along with her hostesses (Barb, Lisa, Jamie & Lizzie) will create themed loaves of bread and all of us will follow that theme each month to create our own lovely loaves. The idea is that everyone will discover new flavors, new textures and learn new techniques. Lora wants to spark a bread baking passion across the nation and the world around. Since she knows it’s not an easy task and Lora and her hostesses are there to help along the way. Thank goodness, cause I’m going to need some help!
This month we were to make a yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual, filled, stuffed, studded or topped with our favorite fresh summer fruit or berries. Because of my fear of yeast, I knew I would need some guidance. I went and peeked at all the hostesses recipes to get some inspiration. After drooling over each one of them, I decided I would try my hand at Lora’s cream cheese braid. Through her detailed instructions and beautiful pictures I was able to create a gorgeous braided bread of my own!
I made two changes to Lora’s braid, one on purpose and one on the spot. First, as I made my dough I was measuring out my flour and quickly came to realize that I was running low. So low in fact, that I would not have enough to make the bread! Frantically, at 9am I called my neighbor to see if I could (literally) borrow a cup of flour. Sadly, she didn’t answer. Probably cause she was sleeping! So I stood in the kitchen contemplating what to do. Mike wasn’t home and my only other option was to pile this whole crew into the car and run to the store. That is not an easy task so scratch that idea. Luckily I happened to have a small bag of whole wheat flour in the cabinet that I remembered mere moments before declaring defeat. So to my dough, I replaced one cup of flour with whole wheat flour. Next, filled mine with a fresh cherry cream cheese filling that was very well received by all my taste testers at work. Nearly the entire loaf was gone in a mere 15 minutes. I was thrilled that it was enjoyed by all and even more elated that I was able to create successful bread once more despite a small bump in the road. From here, I fully intend to create a variety of interesting breads monthly.
A braided loaf of bread filled with fresh cherry and cream cheese filling.
- 1 recipe dough
- 1 recipe cream cheese filling
- 1 pound cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- In a small bowl, whisk a tablespoon of water with the cornstarch and set it aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until the cherries soften and mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cornstarch mixture and almond extract to the cherries, stirring constantly. Simmer 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature until set. If making the day before, leave in the refrigerator until the next day when ready to assemble the braid.
- Cake Duchess
Time includes making bread and both fillings. Time does not include first 30 minute rise time and second 1 1/2-2 hour rise time.