Walnut Cream Braids


I like just about anything with a cream cheese filling so we tried this recipe from "The Taste of Home Baking Book".    This is a very buttery dough that doesn't raise much.  I would think that pecans would be just as good, and perhaps some of those holiday salted nuts might work as well.
                            Walnut Cream Braids
     ¼     Cup  Warm Water -- 120°-130°
     ½     Cup  Butter -- softened
  2        Tablespoons  Sugar
     ½     Teaspoon  Salt
  2         Teaspoons  Instant Yeast -- 1 package
  1         Large  Egg
  2 ½     Cups  Flour, All-purpose -- 11 1/4 ounces
                        Filling:
  6         Ounces  Cream Cheese -- softened
     ¾     Cup  Sugar
     ½     Cup  Walnuts -- finely chopped
             Powdered Sugar -- optional
In large mixer bowl, add 1 1/2 cups flour (6 3/4 ounces)  butter, sugar, salt, yeast and egg.  Stir in water (120-130°; beat on low speed for 3 mintues.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead by hand 6-8 minutes.  Cover and let rise in a warm place 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar; set aside.
Punch down dough.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Roll each portion into a 12 x 8" rectangle; place on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.  Spread half of the cream cheese mixture down the center third of each rectangle.  Sprinkle with half of walnuts.
On each long side, cut 1" wide strips about 2 1/2 inches into center.  Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling; seal ends.  Repeat with second braid.  Cover and let rise 15-20 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until browned.  Cool on wire racks.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired (or glaze with powdered sugar and milk glaze).  Store in refrigerator.
Cost for 2 braids: $3.32
  "2 Loaves"

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