I love to bake breads, all kinds of breads. Recently we discovered a bakery close to our house that has a lot of great goodies. We bought this cranberry bread and it was good, but it was kind of lacking in cranberries. So I thought why not try and make one myself. Except I wanted to make it a bit more special and decided to add some cream cheese filling as well.
You know until recently I was sort of afraid to work with cranberries. I didn’t know what I can make with them and not only that, but I wasn’t that crazy about them. Now I love them, I especially love to make this cranberry jelly that I made for this bread. It’s just delicious. I usually bake on weekends and this type of bread is perfect for weekend breakfasts or brunch. Cranberries and cream cheese wrapped in sweet dough, sounds great, doesn’t it?
The dough is a basic sweet dough with eggs and milk. It’s not overly sweet, for both loaves you only use a 1/3 cup of sugar. To get the yeast started, in a medium bowl, add the warm milk, the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar, mix well. Add 2 cups of the flour to this and using a whisk whisk it all together. This is the dough starter or sponge, whatever you want to call it. Let this rest in a warm spot for about 1/2 hour. If the yeast is good it should rise. After the dough starter has doubled in size, add it to the bowl of your mixer. To this add the eggs, salt, sugar and melted butter. Mix on medium for a minute until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Start adding the remaining flour. In the ingredients list, I said 4 to 5 cups, so the dough should be soft, and just a bit sticky. I used only 4 cups of flour but it depends on the flour you use and other factors come in to play. Knead the dough by mixer using the dough attachment for about 5 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and let it rise until doubled in size. I used the same mixing bowl to let it sit and rise, but make sure you cover it up with some plastic wrap. It should take about 2 hours for it to double in size.
While the dough is rising you can make the cream cheese mixture. Basically in a mixer just add all the ingredients and mix them for a couple minutes. In a sauce pan add all the ingredients for the cranberry filling and over medium heat cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. After the dough has doubled, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. This recipe will make two loaves. Lightly flour your work surface. Take one half and roll it out into a rectangle that’s about 12 inches x 18 inches.
I chose to braid this bread, so this is how I did it. Visually divide the length of the dough into 3 equal parts. The middle part is where our fillings will go. So using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into slice on each outside tab, making equal slits on each side.
Place 1/2 of the cream cheese filling evenly over the uncut center of the dough and repeat with 1/2 of the cranberry mixture.
Alternating from side to side, fold the cut pieces over the middle part. You might have to stretch them a bit so you can pinch them over to the other side.
Repeat with the other half of the dough. Place these breads on an ungreased baking sheet. I let them rest for another half hour, they will just rise a bit more then brush them with the egg wash. I shaped one of my loaves like a boomerang just so that it fits on the baking sheet.
Bake them in a preheated oven at 375 F degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until nice and golden brown.
They are simply gorgeous and so good. It’s like eating bread and spreading some cream cheese and jelly over it, except you don’t have to do that, it comes with all the goodies on it. So good, I urge you to give it a try. This type of bread could literally be filled with anything, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apples, the possibilities are endless.