The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


pmccool's picture

One of the all-time favorite recipes here on TFL is the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid that Floyd posted clear back in 2005.  If you haven't yet, or haven't recently, read that post and the long string of comments that follow, I suggest that you have a look.  There are a lot of good ideas in that thread.

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I've been twiddling with that recipe.  And, since the ingredients for that recipe were measured entirely in volumetric units, I've recast them grams.  If you compare this version to the one that Floyd posted, you'll notice that the dough for this one isn't quite as rich (one egg instead of two) and that it has been converted from a sponge and dough approach to a straight dough.  

Four fillings have also been cadged from the original string and each has received its share of tinkering.  

Note that I have retained the original two braid yield for the recipe.  More often than not, though, I make three braids instead of two since I find the smaller braids easier to handle.  The smaller braids are also a great size for gifting.

Herewith my "regifted" version of the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid:


Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid

Profile: Enriched dough

Recommended equipment: two small mixing bowls, medium mixing bowl, sturdy mixing spoon (or stand mixer), whisk. saucepan, measuring cups and spoons (or scale), bench knife, bowl scraper, rolling pin, half-sheet baking sheet, baking parchment or Silpat, pastry brush, cooling rack

Yield: 2 braids




Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Milk, warm

1 ½ cup


Yeast, active dry

2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet)


Sugar, granulated

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons



1 each



1 ½ teaspoons


Butter, unsalted, softened

½ cup


All purpose flour

3 ½-4 cups


Pour the milk into a medium mixing bowl and scatter the yeast on the milk.  Allow the yeast to soften, about 5 minutes; it will sink. 

Mix in the sugar, eggs, salt, and butter until all are evenly distributed.

Add the flour to the bowl. Mix vigorously until all ingredients are combined in a rough dough.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop until it is smooth and satiny; 6-8 minutes.

Place the dough back in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is doubled in bulk.  This may take an hour or so if kitchen temperatures are in the mid-70s.  (You could also put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the dough rise overnight, if you wish.)


Egg Glaze:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Egg, large

1 each



1 tablespoon


Beat the egg and milk together.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.


Cream Cheese Filling:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Cream cheese, softened

¾ cup


Sugar, granulated

2 tablespoons


Vanilla extract

½ teaspoon


Egg glaze (see above)

1 tablespoon


While the dough ferments, mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg glaze in a small bowl until uniformly combined.


Blueberry Filling:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Blueberries*, fresh or frozen

2 cups


Sugar, granulated

¼ cup



3 tablespoons


Lemon juice

2 tablespoons


*Raspberries, blackberries, or pitted cherries could be substituted for, or combined with, the blueberries.

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool to room temperature.

When the dough has doubled in volume, remove it from the bowl and divide in half.  Cover one half with the bowl or plastic wrap.  Lightly flour the counter top and roll the first half into a 9x12 inch rectangle.  Slide the rectangle onto a sheet of baking parchment or a silicone pan liner.  Arrange the dough so that the short edge is facing you.  Starting at the top of the rectangle, cut the right-hand third into a series of ½-inch wide strips that angle toward you, chevron style.  Then repeat the process on the left-hand third of the dough to complete the chevron, making sure to cut the same number of strips that you did on the right-hand side.  Leave the center third untouched.

Cover the center third of the rectangle by evenly spreading one-half of the cream cheese filling.  Then spread one-half of the cooled fruit filling evenly over the cream cheese base.

Fold the top edge of the rectangle over the filling, then criss-cross the first set of strips across the filling; left to right and right to left.  Repeat criss-crossing each left-right pair of strips across the filling until reaching the next-to-last pair.  Fold the bottom edge of the dough over the filling, then finish criss-crossing the last two pairs of strips.  For maximum neatness and leak prevention, tuck the end of each strip into the edge of the filled area.  Use the parchment or pan liner as a sling to pick up the braid and place it on a baking sheet.  Brush the surface of the braid with some of the egg glaze.

Repeat the shaping process for the second braid.  Cover both braids with plastic and let them rise until they double.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Uncover the braids and give them one final coating with the remaining egg glaze.  Bake the braids in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes.  If needed, turn the pan midway through the bake so that the braids bake evenly.

Remove the braids from the oven and place them on a cooling rack.  Cover them with a towel and let them cool for at least one hour.


Berries aren’t the only choice for filling the braids.  Some additional options are shown below:


Peach Filling:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Peaches, fresh or frozen, chopped

3 cups


Cinnamon, ground

1 ½ teaspoons



1 tablespoons


Sugar, granulated

¼ cup



3 tablespoons


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture achieves a spreadable consistency, then cool to room temperature before spreading the filling on top of the cream cheese layer.


Apple Filling:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Apples, peeled and chopped

2 cups


Lemon juice

2 tablespoons


Sugar, light brown, packed

¼ cup



2 tablespoons



1 teaspoon



1 teaspoon



1 tablespoon


Nuts, chopped (optional)

1 cup


Put the butter, brown sugar, and nuts (if using) in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine.  When the butter/sugar mixture has melted, add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch to the saucepan.  Continue to cook and stir the filling until it thickens to a spreadable consistency.  It is not necessary to fully cook the apples, since they will continue to cook as the braid is baked.  Cool the filling to room temperature before using.  Just before placing the braids in the oven to bake, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the last coat of egg glaze.


Cranberry Filling:



Volume (U.S.)

Weight (metric)

Cranberries, chopped

2 cups


Orange zest and juice

1 orange


Sugar, granulated

½ cup



1 teaspoon


Grand Marnier or Cointreau or Triple Sec

¼ cup



3 tablespoons


Combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer the cranberries until they are tender.  Make a slurry of the liqueur and cornstarch.  Whisk the slurry into the berry mixture and cook while stirring until the filling reaches a spreadable consistency.  Cool to room temperature before using.

One last hint:

If you are really pressed for time, canned pie fillings work well in place of the home-made fruit fillings.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Christmas Eve, I tried baking a loaf in the wood stove again, having learned a lot from Take 1. Same basic set up, with a few key changes. One, I waited until the coals had died down a bit more than the first try. Two, I used a 6-inch Fat Daddios cake pan inside the cast iron pot, and proofed the loaf in this as a bread pan.

This worked well to provide a bit of insulation between the hot iron pot and the loaf, and also made it easier to handle the dough (a simple 123 sourdough with about 75 grams of stone-ground whole wheat flour). I made a sling of parchment to lower the pan into the pot, then removed the parchment so it wouldn't incinerate like last time.

I put the pot in the stove and baked it for 20 minutes with the lid on. I then used a barbecue fork to carefully lift off the lid - the loaf looked very good, almost done! I put the thermometer probe into the loaf, closed the door and watched it like a hawk. This picture is a bit fuzzy as the camera focused on the ash on the stove door instead of the pot (should have cleaned the door glass first).

The temperature went up more quickly than I thought it would, and reached 200F in about 8 minutes. I'm glad I was watching it so closely this time!

When I turned it out of the pan, it looked fabulous, though the side closest to the back of the wood stove was a little dark.

The bottom crust was perfect though, so the pan-in-a-pot theory seemed to work well.

The crumb was excellent - moist and chewy with good oven spring. It was so good, we had it for lunch on Christmas Day!

It's so nice to know we can have good bread even if the power goes off. As long as it's in the winter. Next No Oven try - the barbecue!

isand66's picture

   I hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah.

For Christmas Eve at our good friends I made some German style pretzel rolls which are always a big hit and went perfectly with the Saurerbraten that was served for dinner.  I also made some potato pancakes to bring as well which everyone seemed to like.

I also made a Porridge Rye with beer to bring to our friends for Christmas day.  They usually serve ham as the main course so this rye goes perfect.  Unfortunately our friends were struck with the stomach virus that's been going around and we ended up making our own ham at home yesterday.

The starter with the onions really is very pungent,  but when everything comes together this one is moist and tasty and worth the effort.









alfanso's picture

No, that isn't my batard.

During our recent visit to my brother and wife in Albuquerque, their home baker friend, having seen my postings on TFL asked if I could give him a baking lesson.  Just in case, I also packed up everything to make a few batches of SJSD batards.  Everything except the kitchen sink and my baking deck, that is.

The prior day Sandra, also my "student", and I worked on getting a batch ready to have Marty bake as soon as he walked in, because that is the only way that he'd be able to see the full cycle from levain build through bake in a single afternoon.

Working backwards with Marty, we

  1. baked, then did
  2. a mix, bulk ferment, divide and shape finally ending with couched batards for the next bake.  And we finished up by
  3. doing a levain build.  

An entire cycle in one day, albeit out of order.  I'd done this scheme once before and it worked out really well, so I already had the template in place.

The day after Sandra did that dough's bake, and then a week later, just before we returned home, she wanted to lock in the process so we did another cycle - in logical order this time.

Three weeks ago Marty sent me a really nice email with his own SJSD picture.  He wrote "I made my first bread with your instructions and it’s probably the best bread I’ve made."  I also showed Marty that we can use plain old Pillsbury types of flour to get superior results - no need for the fancy stuff.

Here is Sandra's own follow-up SJSD.

And the lead picture is Sandra's SJSD with caraway seeds inside.  She baked this one just the other day, and I think the results are so incredible!  She is a gifted painter, ceramist and cook.  It won't be long before we add bread baker to the list.

As for us?  Headed out to an acquaintance's house full of folks for Christmas Day celebration, I baked these in my new-found variations on a theme - fat baguettes: more semolina sesame and SFBI Pain au Levain.  Four for them, two for our aunt & uncle and two for us.  Baked a shade lighter than I typically would as not everyone is a fan of my favored dark crust.  I think that I'm having a little problem with self-control...

My wife made this Mexican chocolate roll for her share of the baking. 


Skibum's picture

Well a very Merry Christmas to my freshloaf friends who celebrate it! this loaf made my neighbours little girl very happy just now!  The look on her face seeing a whole loaf of pulla made my day.

Happy baking! Ski

Zubaidah's picture

I recently when to baking school to learn baguettes. My family just love baguettes such that I must have every morning. I don't think I have problem with obtaining window frame. My main problem is proofing. I do baguettes again today. I do the finger poking test but still the final result of the baguettes is still not round. I am not sure if the baguettes is underproof. Like I says I do the finger poking. The dough stick to my fingers when I do the poking. I proof for abt 1.5 hours. When I was about to bake just now, the dough Bounce back slowly. If the dough did not bounce back, I guess it's over proof. I try so hard on this. Can anybody help pls. I am trying very hard to do baguettes for breakfast. This is my 4th try. Can somebody help me pls. 



dabrownman's picture

People might rightly think ……Who would be making sprouted brioche buns for Christmas when they haven’t made Christmas cookies, fruit cake, panettone or even puff paste rugelach for Hanukkah?  I know it sounds weird but these are special buns for a special Christmas feast that folks from Kansas City don’t know as well as they should.

Yes, it is the almost famous, nearly wonderful Smoked Meat Christmakkah held in Gilbert Arizona for the first time ever this year.  It will be 3-4 kinds of smoked sausage, brined and smoked chicken thighs, baby back ribs and the smoked meat requiring the buns – 13 hour smoked, pulled, pork butt.

There is so much smoked meat happening that it takes 2 days just to get it all smoked up because our smoker is only a 3 level, 30 incher.  Low and slow is the only way to do right by all this great meat and it is the Holiday Season that required the very best.  So the buns have to be good.

Lucy started out by using Floyd’s Lazy Man’s Brioche recipe as the base to start from and then gussied it up to make it every bit as decadent as it is lazy.  First, she converted it to sourdough.  We sprouted our usual 9 grain mix of whole grains, dried them and then ground them so that we could sift the flour to get out the bran to make our pretty much standard bran levain.

We used 6 grams each of wheat and rye NMNF starter that have been retarded in the fridge for weeks and weeks.  We built the 12 hour, 100% hydration 3 stage levain on a heating pad to make sure we were at 78 - 80 F most of the time.  It came in at 14% pre-fermented flour overall.  The levain was not retarded.  Then it was time to get out the KA mixer. 

We haven’t use the mixer in about forever for anything so this was a treat.   The only time we use it is for enriched dough like this one.   We didn’t do an autolyse and mixed the 50% nonfat milk with the levain, 2.5% barley malt syrup, 2% salt, the remaining high extraction sprouted flour and 37% each high gluten and LaFama AP dough flour.  After mixing on 2 with the paddle for 1 minute we let the fermenting dough rest for an hour.

We then switched to the dough hook and added the 10% sugar in a slow stream on speed 2, 30% eggs and the 25% butter in small chunks and Ian’s favorite, 6% Neuchâtel cream cheese.  before cranking the mixer up to 4 for 8 minutes and then back down to 3 for 2 minutes.  After a total of 10 minutes the wet dough was pulling away from the sides of bowl and had made a fine windowpane.  All together the hydration was 80%.

It's a seasoned pork butt right before it went into the smoker for 13 hours this morning.

This recipe ended up being much wetter than Floyd’s recipe and richer as well with the added BMS and crème cheese, having more butter and eggs.  I like bun dough to be more on the wet side even if harder to handle.  We did 2 sets of 8 stretch and folds on 1 hour intervals before dividing the dough into 12 buns and shaping them.


6 of the buns were larger than the others.  The larger ones were going into Pyrex baking dish instead of being shaped individually.  After they proofed for 3 hours on the counter, we egg washed them and they went into a 385 F oven for 10 minutes of Mega Steam with lava rocks and then 10 minutes of convection dry heat at 365 F.

The individual rolls were done at that time but it took another 5 minutes to get the Pyrex buns done.  They came out very soft, browned nicely and smelled great.  As soon as they were cool we wrapped them in plastic and froze them at the peak of freshness.  The buns came out soft, moist, glossy and very tasty.  Best buns we have managed to date.  The crumb was beautiful and the crust soft as could be.  Would make a nice a nice cinnamon roll dough for sure!  We like tham a lot!.

Got the chocolate rugelach baked off


14% pre-fermented flour sprouted 9 grain, 100% hydration, 3stage bran levain


50% nonfat milk

 12% high extraction 9 grain sprouted flour

37% each LaFama AP and Smart and Final high gluten flour

25% unsalted butter

30% eggs

10% sugar

6% Neuchâtel cream cheese

2.5% barley malt syrup

2% salt

 No this isn't an AZ sunset - it is an AZ sunrise instead:-)  You see these things whenyou have to get up early and get the smoker going!  It took 15 hours to get the pork shoulder to 199 F

Cuisine Fiend's picture
Cuisine Fiend

My last minute (and a first ever) attempt at pandoro: where are the raisins? :-) And of course baked in a totally unorthodox fashion in a panettone tin - didn't get hold of the star shaped one in time.

Good: no orange peel, dough doesn't ever want to collapse, divine toasted and buttered.

Bad: where are the raisins?

Happy Christmas to all the bakers!


chapstick's picture

I've been experimenting with using chia seeds in my regular "low hydration" sourdough. I tried incorporating them in three ways.

1. Pre-soak 2 tablespoons of chia in 8 tablespoons of water. "Dimple" into the pre-dough along with the levain/starter.
This was quite messy and difficult to work with. There was a lot of wet chia gel to try and mix into a fairly firm dough. I tried to take a light-handed approach to this and not worry too much. The end result was great! The texture of the crumb was almost silky. My guess is that this is because I managed a higher hydration than I usually would.

Chia loaf v1

chia loaf v1 crumb

2. Add 2 tablespoons of chia to the usual pre-dough, with no extra water.
This produced a very stiff dough that was almost hard to handle for that reason. The texture of the bread itself was fine but nothing especially interesting. The taste was good - a bit nuttier, maybe, than a loaf without chia.

Chia loaf v2

3. Add 2 tablespoons of chia to the usual pre-dough, plus 4 tablespoons of extra water.
This has been the most succesful method. I tried using an extra 6 tablespoons of water but find 4 tablespoons more manageable. I love the texture of the loaves made this way. The crumb is somehow shiny and smooth. I've been getting a good crust and rise too. As with the first method though, I'm not sure how much of this is attributable to the chia seeds, and how much is due to the (slightly) higher hydration than what I'm used to.

Chia loaf v3

Chia loaf v3 sliced

leslieruf's picture




decided to make 3 batches of dough - and really pay attention to my gluten development and shaping.  Each batch was enough for 2 small loaves. I made Ru's butternut squash recipe again, my favourite multigrain and NW sourdoughs potato water SD.  I have made the multigrain recipe countless times but I reworked the recipe using the BBG spreadsheet. 

I started with the butternut squash.  As I had some squash frozen I defrosted it and used that.  It had a lot of moisture and I drained off what I could.  the dough was very very soft but seemed to come together ok with the 4 S&F at 30 minute intervals before bulk fermenting for a couple of hours.

once this was underway I started the multigrain. I added about an extra 20 g water to my soaker by accident and when I came to doing the autolyse my dough needed more water so I added water until it came together.  after autolyse I added the levain and soaker and it took a lot of hand mixing to combine.  The S&f were then matched to the butternut dough so I did one dough followed by the next.  the dough was very soft.

ok, onto the last one.  potato water SD.  this recipe uses the double hydration technique. I mixed the low hydration dough, added the levain then left to rest for 2 hours with s&f after 1 hour. final step is to added 2nd part of water with the salt gradually over 3-4 hours with gentle s&f.

Finally, as each dough finished bulk ferment I preshaped, rested and shaped dough.  It was quite a challenge with the butternut squash dough. It was really soft and very extensible and I struggled to get it to hold its shape. the multigrain gave me similar shaping problems but I hoped i had done enough. finally the potato water dough was just a beeze, no issues at all.

so into the fridge they went for overnight proof. set the oven to heatup automatically and started my baking.

here is the butternut squash.

Really spread during bake and I was very disappointed. next to be baked the multigrain.


Spread quite a bit too, but was a bit better. I hade made a slightly bigger batch so the 2 loaves were 800 and 600 gms

finally the potato water dough went into the oven.  i made 1 boule (photo at top of post) and the batard I baked in a oblong china dish with tented foil over it. normally i bake in DO but wanted to try this.  I slashed the top. I had used parchment during proofing so I could allow dish to warm up befoe putting in the oven. anyway, put loaf in oven and after 15 minutes removed lid of DO and foil from dish. it was way less baked than the boule so l left it another 5 minutes then removed it from the dish so it would brown.

this also needed longer to finish.  all loaves baked to 208°f internal temp.yy

later in the day, i sliced and packaged.  the grain and butternut loaves are very moist, never had that before.


the crumb shot cheered me up a bit, but I was disappointed given the extra care i had taken to try and do things better.

proof will be in the eating over Christmas.



Subscribe to RSS - blogs