- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
- all of the sponge
- 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor OR vanilla
- 5 cups All-Purpose Flour
- egg wash for brushing braid
- pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling on braid
Cream Cheese Filling
- 2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd
- In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients.
- Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flavoring.
- Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency.
- Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.
- Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free.
- Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.
- Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half.
- Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle.
- Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier.
- Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections.
- Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1″ free on all sides of the filling.
- To form the mock braid, cut 1″ crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side.
- Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally.
- Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other.
- Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.
- Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd.
- Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.