Braided Apple Cream Cheese Pastry

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I’m back from Austin y’all and it was glorious for my tastebuds. I definitely ate all the hamburgers. Hat Creek, Mighty Fine, Wholly Cow… I only missed P. Terry’s! All the fried avocado too… Mighty Cone, Torchy’s… Foodie goals: figure out how to fry an avocado at home. Don’t worry my fabulous four, I’ll figure it out how just to share it with you. Of course the music was excellent too. I’m newly obsessed with the insanely talented, yet oddly grounded, Catfish and the Bottlemen. If you haven’t heard of them, look them up right now. I’m serious. Right. Now. There is nothing more important in your life.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out there, it’s time for my latest creation! The leaves are turning, mornings are cooling, pumpkin spice is back at every coffee shop in town, and even though it was almost 90 degrees in Austin, it must be Autumn! I love the flavors of fall, and I’m jumping in with a yummy pastry. No, it’s not pumpkin. Today is all about the apples.

Crumb coffee cake is my favorite guilty pleasure breakfast/dessert/snack (or entire meal for a day), but I’ve also got a weak spot for apple turnovers (the flaky pastry kind, not the hard empanada-like pie crust shell kind). So… I combined them into a braided apple strudel, of a sort! I’m not really sure what to call it, but it’s freaking delicious. I mean, look at this flaky, cream-cheesy, apple filled beauty.

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Braiding Pastry Dough

I’ve never made a braided pastry before, and I’m still no expert but it’s really not that hard. I used a pre-made puff pastry dough (baby steps, guys). It’s already folded into thirds, so measuring out the braids is super easy. Just decide if you want a chunky braid or a more intricate one and cut even strips. I tried both a chunky and a not-so-chunky braid (chunky pictured on the left, below).

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For the chunky, which was less work, I cut ½ inch to ¾ inch thick strips. For the not-so-chunky, which looks “fancier” and is only more difficult in that it’s tougher to get the strips to stay put, I cut ¼ inch strips (more or less). I eyeballed everything, so my strips aren’t perfect and some are even jagged. After the pastry is done baking and drizzled in sugared icing, those imperfections won’t even be noticeable.

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Layering the Filling

There are two fillings to make and layer in this two pastry combo-dish. The cream cheese filling is simple; add all the ingredients to a bowl and whip together. The apples take a little longer but they’re well worth it. I adapted the baked apple recipe from one my mom makes (thanks again, madre!). I substituted apple cider vinegar for the apple juice in her original recipe for a more tart taste to balance out the sweet from the cream cheese. If you’re feeling something sweeter, try apple juice!

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Braided Apple Cream Cheese Pastry
Print Recipe
Sweet apples and cream cheese filling baked into a beautifully braided pastry crust drizzled with a sweet icing.
Servings Prep Time
2 pastry loaves 25 minutes
Cook Time
75 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 pastry loaves 25 minutes
Cook Time
75 minutes
Braided Apple Cream Cheese Pastry
Print Recipe
Sweet apples and cream cheese filling baked into a beautifully braided pastry crust drizzled with a sweet icing.
Servings Prep Time
2 pastry loaves 25 minutes
Cook Time
75 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 pastry loaves 25 minutes
Cook Time
75 minutes
Ingredients
Apple Filling
Cream Cheese Filling
Pastry
Glaze
Servings: pastry loaves
Instructions
Apple Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a small baking dish.
  2. Peel apples and cut into small chunks. Add to pan.
  3. Add apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the pan and mix.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Soften cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Blend in sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Refrigerate until needed.
Pastry
  1. Defrost pastry puff according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the outer thirds of the puff pastry envelop fold into even strips.
  3. Layer cream cheese and apple filling in the center third of the puff pastry. Starting at the top, fold the cut strips toward the middle so that they over lap (left, right, left, right). Continue with all strips. Tuck the last two strips under each other to seal the end of the braid. Brush the braid with leftover juice from baking the apples.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for approximately 20 minutes.
  5. While the pastry cools, mix the sugar and milk for the glaze in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle in a zig-zag pattern over the cooled pastry.
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