Sunday, February 5, 2017



Ingredients

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
Filling Ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
7 ounces almond paste, frozen until firm and then grated with hand grater
1 cup sliced almonds, divided
Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
sliced almonds for topping

Instructions

Make the filling: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Mix in the salt and almond extract. Beat in the egg until just combined. Stir in the almond paste flakes and about 1 cup of the slivered almonds.
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: (There are photos and a video 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. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braid overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
Bake and glaze the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg wash mixture. 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 extract, and milk in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. Drizzle over the top of the braid. Top with sliced almonds and serve!

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