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Cinnamon Pecan Cream Cheese Braid
This recipe was entered in the 2006 North Carolina State Fair and judged to be a winner.
2 Loaves, Each Loaf Serves 16
1 hour, 45 minutes
20 to 25 minutes
1 (2-1/4 tsp.) envelope Fleischmann's® Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup warm milk (100° to 110°F)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter OR margarine, melted and cooled
1/3 cup honey
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons caramel topping
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Combine yeast, water and 1 teaspoon honey in a large mixing bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Yeast mixture should be foamy. Stir in warm milk, salt, eggs, butter and 1/3 cup honey. Add 3 cups flour; beat until well mixed. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For filling, combine cream cheese, brown sugar, caramel topping and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Set aside.
Punch dough down. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 12 x 9-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Place each piece on a greased baking sheet. Spread filling down the middle third of the dough, lengthwise. Sprinkle pecans over filling. Brush sides of dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Make 1-inch wide cuts on both sides of the dough up to the filling using a sharp knife or scissors. Fold each cut section of dough over the filling to resemble a braid. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to serving platter.
For glaze, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Add more milk to reach desired consistency, if needed. Drizzle over warm braid. Serve warm.