Makes: 3 loaves Prep time: 75 minutes Bake time: 36 to 40 minutes
1 tablespoon, (or 1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) plus ¾ tsp) Platinum Yeast from Red Star
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups warm water, about 110 to 120 degrees
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 canola oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sugar
6-7 more cups all purpose flour
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water for brushing over loaves
Coarse sugar for sprinkling over loaves
Sliced almonds for sprinkling over loaves, if desired
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
About 1 cup of fresh blueberries
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the yeast, 1/3 cup of sugar and the warm water together. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir in 3 cups of flour and mix with your dough hook until the flour is incorporated.
In another bowl, mix together the eggs, canola oil, salt, and remaining 1 cup of sugar.
Add to the dough mixture and mix until combined.
Slowly begin adding in your additional 6 to 7 cups of flour until the dough comes together as a sticky ball. ( I used about 6 and a half more cups of flour)
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes unit the dough forms into a nice round shape.
Butter a large bowl and place your dough ball in it.
Place the bowl in a warm part of the house and cover the bowl with a clean towel.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Make your cream cheese filling by combining all ingredients together and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Punch the dough down and place onto a floured surface.
Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces, then cut those pieces into 3 pieces. You will have 9 ropes total.
Now, roll each piece into a long rectangular shape, about 14 inches long by 4-5 inches wide or so. ( These don’t have to be exact, but try and keep them around the same size so your braids look even.) See my photo above.
Spread about 1 tablespoon filling leaving an inch border on each piece.
Line the blueberries down the middle of each rope. (see my photo above)
Roll each piece long ways jelly roll style. Tuck the blueberries in as you go. (See my photo above).
Pinch all along the seam and on each end to seal completely.
Now, line up 3 ropes vertically and pinch them together at the top to combine into one. ( see my photo above).
Braid your three pieces starting tightly at the top so there isn’t a big gap.
When you get to the bottom, tuck the tough under, and do the same at the top so the braid looks pretty.
Gently place it on your prepared baking sheet.
Gently cover the loaves with a cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Whisk up the egg and teaspoon of water.
Gently brush each loaves liberally with the egg mixture.
Sprinkle very generously with lots of turbinado sugar. I love the crunch so I used quite a bit. You can use as much or as little as you like!
Sprinkle some almonds on top if you like almonds. I think they gave a nice texture and flavor to the bread!
I did bake each loaf one at a time to make sure they had plenty of room in the oven!
Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan.
Bake for another 15 t0 20 minutes, or until the loaves are a deep golden brown.
Let the loaves sit on the pan for 10 minutes then move them to a cooling rack.
Slice and serve with cream cheese or butter!!
Wrap any cool leftovers in wax paper and foil.
You can freeze each loaf for up to a month!
I hope you love this amazing bread as much as I do!!