Double Vanilla Cream Cheese Braid

Below this bread’s braid is a decadent cream cheese filling loaded with vanilla sugar and paste. Find more ways with vanilla in our May/June 2019 issue!

Double Vanilla Cream Cheese Braid
Makes 1 loaf
  • ¾ cup (180 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg (50 grams), room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (381 grams) bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)
  • 1 large egg white (30 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) vanilla sugar
  • Vanilla Glaze (recipe follows)
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together warm milk and yeast by hand. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, melted butter, vanilla bean paste, and vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add half of flour mixture to milk mixture, and beat at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from sides and bottom of bowl, about 4 minutes.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round. Spray a medium bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15x10-inch oval, and place on parchment paper.
  5. Leaving 2 inches at top and bottom of dough, spread Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling down center third of dough. Cut 1-inch-wide strips along each side of filling. At top and bottom, trim ends to width of filling, and fold over filling. Starting on left side, fold one strip over filling, ending just below opposite strip. Repeat with one strip on right side. Continue pattern, alternating left and right, until you reach end of strips. Tuck and pinch last strip.Transfer parchment and dough to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water. Brush top and sides of braided loaf with egg wash. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar.
  8. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 20 to 25 minutes. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling
Makes about 1 cup
  • ½ cup (112 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) vanilla sugar
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk (19 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon (9 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add sugars and all remaining ingredients, and beat until smooth. Use immediately.

Vanilla Glaze
Makes ½ cup
  • 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.


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  1. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes!! There wasn’t one person that tried it and didn’t love it. My only confusion is when preparing the dough, I followed the temperature instructed for the milk and use all the exact other ingredients and followed each step, but it does not quite foam nor does it hardly rise at all (I kept it covered by a towel in a draft free 75-78 degree area). I’m not sure if this is a mistake on my end (open to any and all tips), but regardless, one of my top 3 favorite recipes of all time!!

    • Hi Cami,

      We are so glad you love this recipe! For your question regarding the foaming and the rising, it sounds like your yeast may be mostly inactive. The first step (where you mix the milk and the yeast) should produce tiny bubbles, or foam, because the yeast is coming out of a sleepy dormant state, where it starts eating sugars and nutrients and letting off CO2. Often you will see the first step is to mix your yeast with liquid (water or milk) and sometimes a small amount of sugar is added to speed up the wakening. This is called “activating” the yeast, but sometimes it is also called “proofing” since you are proving that the yeast is alive and well. Yeast will become inactive over time or if it is stored or transported at high temperatures. Sometimes you may even get it from the supermarket inactivated– which is why we try this step even if the yeast is new. My recommendation is to get new yeast and try this step again until you get foam! If you don’t see bubbles after 5 minutes, it is ok to wait 10 minutes. I hope this helps, but feel free to reach out if you have any further questions. Happy baking!


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