This raspberry braid, by Zoe Francois, is ideal for breakfast, brunch, after school snack, or makes a sweet gift for your neighbor who just had an adorable baby (as mine recently did). When you have a bucket of brioche in the refrigerator this can be put together in a no time.
In a large bowl, mix together yeast, salt, eggs, honey, butter, and water. Use a spoon to stir in flour until incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. Refrigerate the dough and allow it to thoroughly chill before using it, at least 3 hours, but overnight is best.
Mix the cream cheese, lemon zest, and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Place one package plus one-half package of raspberries into a small saucepan (reserve about 20 raspberries). Add sugar and lemon juice. Use a fork to break up the raspberries just enough to produce a bit of juice. Simmer over a medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often. The jam will cling to the spoon when it is done. Allow to cool before filling the braid.
On a sheet of parchment paper, roll brioche dough into a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Make sure to use enough flour that the dough doesn’t stick to the paper or the rolling pin. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center of the dough, not more than 1 1/2 inches wide. Top the cream cheese filling with the raspberry jam.
Cut 1/2-inch strips on both sides of filling using a pastry or pizza cutter. Try to get an even amount of dough on both sides of the filling, but it’s okay if it doesn’t happen.
Lightly lift and twist the top two strips of dough, then cross them over the top of the filling. Do not pull the dough too thin or it may break as it rises and bakes. Continue that same routine of lifting and twisting the pieces and crossing them over each other on top of the filling until you are at the bottom. If you find an odd piece of the dough that doesn’t have a mate just twist it and place it over the filling. When you get to the end tuck the loose ends under the loaf so they are secure and won’t pop out when baking.
Place the braid and parchment onto a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rest for about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Just before baking, beat egg and water together in a small bowl. Brush the braid gently on all sides with egg wash.
Bake the braid for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before topping with the icing.
In a small bowl, mash one raspberry with a fork. Add cream and mix until blended. Add confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. If it is too thick to drizzle, add more cream. It should come off a spoon in a thin ribbon.
Once the braid is cool, drizzle with half the icing. Top with remaining raspberries and drizzle again with remaining icing.
You can make braiding your brioche easier by placing the rolled-out dough into the freezer for 10-15 minutes prior to working with it.