Move over cinnamon rolls…this sweet, baked cherry braid is a festive addition to your Christmas menu. Fancy-looking, but simple to make, serve it for dessert (or even breakfast) and wow you family!
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It’s almost Christmas! My kids are beyond excited, and we’re hunkering down for a week of family fun and celebrating the birth of our Savior.
This week, I want to focus on the wonderful people that make my world go round (and sometimes make it feel like a tornado), so–after today–I’ll be signing off on the blog until the New Year.
I have some BIG ideas for this little blog for the new year though. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to share with you the goals I’m setting for myself to bring more peace and joy into my life as mother–and I hope you’ll join me. So, enjoy your Christmas, and I’ll see you back here in January!
Before I go read Christmas stories and watch Charlie Brown with my kids, however, I wanted to share one last Christmas tradition with you all. It’s a recipe that I’ve been making since childhood, so you can rest assured that while it may look fancy, it’s actually pretty easy.My family has been making this cherry braid since the 1980s (see, some good things came out of that decade!), and baking it is one of my favorite ways to warm up the house during the winter.
It’s made with a basic sweet bread (think cinnamon roll dough) that is rolled out, separated into thirds and filled with sweet cherry pie filling. You could totally do a different fruit if you want, but red cherries look just perfect for Christmastime.
Then, braid the dough over the top of the cherries (super easy…see pictures…and pardon the terrible, dark images. I was prepping this at 7 a.m.), and bake. Finish it off with a simple glaze–or get really indulgent with a cream cheese frosting–and it’s ready to eat!The recipe makes three large loaves, so there is always plenty to share with friends and neighbors. Our church always hosts a neighborhood Christmas breakfast, and I’ve made this recipe the past several years there. This year I took two of the giant loaves to share, and they we’re gobbled up quickly. It’s a bread meant for sharing…perfect for spreading the spirit of Christmas.
- 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packages)
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter, warm
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6-7 cups flour
- 1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 3 Tablespoons milk (approximate)
- Dissolve yeast in warm milk (make sure it’s not too hot or the yeast will die…110 degrees is ideal).
- Mix together melted butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add yeast mixture.
- In a separate bowl, add salt to 6 cups of flour and mix well. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients 2 cups at a time until a soft dough is formed.
- Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Let raise until double (can do in the fridge overnight), about an hour.
- To shape the braids, divide into three portions and roll out each portion to a rectangle about 8″ x 14″. Place dough on cookie sheet.
- Place one third of the pie filling down the dough length-wise. I usually make a tight single-file line of cherries. With a sharp knife (or bench knife…my favorite tool), cut diagonal slits in the dough along the two long sides (about 2-3 inches long). Lace the cut pieces of dough over the pie filling, as shown in the picture. Tuck ends under, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until light golden on top and not doughy. Let cool slightly and move to wire rack to cool completely.
- Mix up all icing ingredients and drizzle over loaves. Slice and enjoy warm or at room temperature.