20 things I love about SPRING BREAK:

1. Wearing sundresses and new dollar store flip-flops.

2. Playing with a dollar store Frisbee in the parking lot with Mike (and realizing that we are truly terrible at Frisbee).

3. Mike’s family’s Easter egg hunt. I ended up with polleny toes and a scraped up arm — but it was worth it. I found 6 eggs! Who says this stuff is just for kids?

4. Playing fetch with Byrd, who has been following me around with her pink rubber bone in her mouth.

5. Running through soft grass barefoot.

6. Witnessing an all-out wasp vs. bees war on my balcony. The gigantic humble bees are bouncing around the new nest the wasps are building, causing an uproar. All of this goes on overhead while I try to focus on photographing my food!

7. Reading books with wet hair after an evening shower.

8. Watching marathons of Undercover Boss online and bawling the entire time. I can’t help it! I’m a softie. Thanks Heidi and Shannon for recommending the show to me!

9. Reminiscing about April Fool’s Day. My 6th grade students received a fake test that they diligently tried to complete with sad looks on their little faces until I finally revealed my trickery (sample question: “What happened on page 148 of the novel?”). The 7th graders were redirected from room to room via signs before finally arriving and being “chewed out” for being late — I’m a good actor when I need to be! They got me pretty good, too: a fake cup of hot chocolate “spilled” all over my desk.

10. Photographing food outside in WARM, SUNNY weather. Such a difference from shivering on my balcony, fiddling with my tripod with numb fingers!

11. Leaving my hair down and letting it swing around my shoulders. Or tying my hair up in pigtails and feeling only a little silly.

12. Eating delicious Indian food before coming home and devouring cheesecake squares.

13. Getting the BEST parking spot outside my apartment building, because everyone else is at work! Mwahaha!

14. Sitting at my desk with the windows thrown open beside me, birds singing, squirrels nesting in the trees, and the occasional lawnmower revving in the distance.

15. Waking up, eating breakfast . . . and then taking a nap.

16. Planning Mike’s BIRTHDAY DINNER and DESSERT for this upcoming weekend! And actually having the time and energy to make it fancy!

17. The spring part.

18. The break part.

19. Everything . . .

20. . . . including this Raspberry Almond Braid.

This Raspberry Almond Braid is a tender, flaky, almond-flavored pastry enveloping rich raspberry preserves and topped with a sweet glaze. I was hunting for something simple and comforting to take to the ladies in my Bible study and decided a raspberry cream cheese coffee cake would be perfect . . . only I couldn’t settle on any of the recipes I found. Some were too heavy and cakey; some involved yeasted dough, which felt too finicky for me today. So when I found this braid — made with a quick cream cheese dough — I was sold.

The cream cheese dough was lovely to work with in that it didn’t stick to my rolling pin or the sheets of wax paper I rolled it out between. It actually felt a lot like the crescent roll dough you can buy in stores, so I’m sure you could whip this braid up with one of those cans — but this tasted a ton better! It was almondy and had an almost creamy flavor. The entire dessert was subtly sweet, rich, satisfying, and created in less than an hour.

And you know what I love the most about this braid? In addition to being easy, fast, and delicious, it’s so pretty! Don’t you love simple recipes that look fancy? Make this Raspberry Almond Braid for a quick breakfast one morning this spring, or for a light dessert. I’ll definitely be rounding up my favorite flavors of preserves to make this again!

Raspberry Almond Braid

Recipe by: Adapted from Luna Cafe
Yields: 10-12 1-in. slivers of braid, or about 4 servings

Dough and Filling Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best quality cream cheese
1/2 cup milk, minus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup raspberry preserves (or your favorite preserves)

Icing Ingrdients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds (optional)

NOTE: To prepare this braid in advance, complete all steps and assemble the braid but do not bake. Cover the braid on its parchment lined baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Set out in the morning as you preheat the oven and then bake as usual.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 pulses). Add the milk and almond extract and blend into a loose dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead VERY LIGHTLY for 4-5 strokes. (NOTE: This is the step at which you can ruin the braid. If you overwork the dough, the pastry will be tough. Just gather the dough together and don’t worry about making it smooth. It will still look a little rough. That’s perfect.)

Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough to an 8- by 12-inch rectangle. Turn dough out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and remove the waxed paper. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread preserves down the middle third of the dough, keeping it about ½ inch from the mark on both sides.

Make 2¾-inch slight diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center jam-filled area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in a rotating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Bake in a 425° oven for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly browned.

In a small glass measuring cup with a pouring spout, combine the sugar, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Drizzle over the top of the braid. If desired, sprinkle on the toasted sliced almonds while the icing is still wet. Serve warm.


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47 Comments on Raspberry Almond Braid

  1. Maranda
    April 6, 2010 at 1:37 am (13 years ago)

    This looks scrumptious and easy! I have to say I agree with you about getting out of the shower, having your hair still wet, and just sitting and enjoying a book in the sun. Oh so delightful! I’m swooning over the thought right now!

    Thanks for sharing a great recipe and a wonderful list of your favorite things. 🙂

  2. SouthernMyst
    April 6, 2010 at 5:19 am (13 years ago)

    I don’t think I tell you, and I should, that your writing is quite enjoyable. The recipes are fabulous, too; the photography just makes me jealous 😉

    Thanks for doing it!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:32 am (13 years ago)

      Thanks so much!!

  3. Karly
    April 6, 2010 at 10:16 am (13 years ago)

    I made this a while back and it was just amazing!

    • Julie
      April 6, 2010 at 10:22 am (13 years ago)

      Karly, I saw your pingback on Luna Cafe and looked at your post! Yours was gorgeous! Such a great recipe!!

  4. mangiodasola
    April 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm (13 years ago)

    I’ve been seeing so many braids! This braid is much easier than the braid I made with laminated dough a few days ago. I will have to try this out. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your break!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:31 am (13 years ago)

      It was totally simple! Thanks 🙂

  5. Kathleen
    April 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm (13 years ago)

    This looks so incredibly beautiful! I can’t believe its easy to make. I seriously can’t wait to try it. You have a really fabulous blog!!!

    • Julie
      April 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm (13 years ago)

      Thank you, Kathleen!!

  6. Valen
    April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm (13 years ago)

    Wow this looks amazing! And so easy! I think I will make this this weekend!

    • Julie
      April 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm (13 years ago)

      You won’t regret it. So tasty! 🙂 Let me know what you think!

  7. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella
    April 7, 2010 at 12:12 am (13 years ago)

    It’s SO pretty Julie and beautifully styled too! Alas I am going into the opposite season to you so we’re in Autumn now and I’m missing all those wonderful things that you write of! 😀

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:31 am (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Lorraine! Lots of food fun to be had in autumn too!

  8. Megan
    April 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm (13 years ago)

    The braid is gorgeous! I’ve thought about making one before, and now that I’ve seen your step-by-step pictures, I actually think I might be able to. I figured the braiding part would be too complicated! Also, I love your list. It made me all smiley and happy. Happy spring break!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:30 am (13 years ago)

      Thanks Megan! It was totally easy!

  9. Marcellina
    April 9, 2010 at 3:51 am (13 years ago)

    This looks beautiful. Just the thing with a cup of tea as our weather cools down from the scorching summer! What a teacher you are playing tricks on your students! LOL!! I love the picture you paint. We are sort of the same except we enjoy being able to go out without being almost instantly burnt, or opening windows and feeling fresh air enter instead of steaming oven-hot air or witnessing the growth on plants no longer struggling to survive in the oppressing heat. Ahhh, the dry season is almost upon us. Ours is really only dry and cool or wet and hot. Enjoy your day!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:30 am (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Marcellina!! 😀

  10. Maranda
    April 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm (13 years ago)

    Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I made this for my in-laws last night. I made it with strawberry preserves and everyone absolutely loved it! It was so delicious and surprisingly easy to make! I didn’t have a food processor but I made due and figured out other ways to make it work. Yummy! Thanks again for posting!

    • Julie
      April 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm (13 years ago)

      I’m so glad you all enjoyed it Maranda! I can’t wait to try it with strawberry! Thanks so much for letting me know.

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:29 am (13 years ago)

      Of course you’re allowed! It looks beautiful and tasty!!

  11. Monica H
    April 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm (13 years ago)

    Beautiful! Your pastry looks perfect and totally delicious. I want!

    • Julie
      April 11, 2010 at 12:30 am (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Monica!

  12. Cristie
    April 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm (13 years ago)

    Beautiful pastry. I have you tagged for Mother’s Day!

  13. Natalie (The Sweets Life)
    April 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm (13 years ago)

    I’ve been DYING to make one of these and love that yours isn’t a yeasted dough…trying this soon 🙂 Thank you!

    And so glad you enjoyed Spring Break…those April Fools Jokes were hilarious!

  14. Katy
    April 17, 2010 at 8:49 am (13 years ago)

    This looks totally amazing and delicious. I followed you over from Kathleen’s Gonna Want Seconds blog and I am so glad I did! Thank you for sharing this. I think I have all the ingredients to make this for tis morning’s breakfast. Love it!!

    • Julie
      April 17, 2010 at 10:07 am (13 years ago)

      Katy, Welcome and thank you! You’re gonna love this thing! So good and so simple. Let me know what you think!

  15. Katy
    April 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm (13 years ago)

    I followed you here from Kathleen’s blog, Gonna Want Seconds, and I fell in love with this braid. I made it this morning, and we absolutely loved it! I wanted to thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe and also to let you know that I will be blogging this and linking back to you. Thank you for this excellent share. Love your blog!!

    • Julie
      April 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm (13 years ago)

      Hurray! I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! It’s one of my new favorites!!

  16. karen d
    April 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm (12 years ago)

    OMG!!! I just made your Raspberry Almond Braid and it is soooo gooood!!!
    It was also easy. Bonus. I used Trader Joe’s cherry preserves instead of raspberry because they are my husbands favorite (raspberry is tops for me). I think I am going to make it again and use blueberry preserves and add some lemon zest to the dough and lemon juice and zest to the icing. Thanks for such a great recipe.

  17. Lizbeth
    April 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm (11 years ago)

    I’m making ten of these in different flavors for our family readiness group fundraiser breakfast. The guys are gonna make the disappear I’m sure 😀

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm (11 years ago)

      Oh, fun! What flavors are you doing? I hope they’re a hit — I love these things!

  18. karen
    October 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm (10 years ago)

    Wow! Just did a trial run. So easy and delicious. Now for the challenge. I’ve got a few ideas. Fun!

  19. JoAnne
    October 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm (10 years ago)

    There was a bakery near my college that made incredible danish. I’ve come close to duplicating it with a yeast recipe, but that’s just too much work. This danish sounds like it might be just the ticket – I can’t wait to try it!

    Just curious, do you have a printer friendly option? I couldn’t find one. As much as I enjoy reading the blog, I don’t really need to print the whole thing before I start cooking.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      October 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm (10 years ago)

      Thanks, JoAnne! I don’t have a print option, but I usually just highlight the recipe itself and paste it into an email or text document to print.

  20. Colette
    October 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm (10 years ago)

    Julie, this is lovely, esp warm out of the oven on a cold morning.
    Breakfast of champions, right? Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  21. Siunna
    July 18, 2013 at 3:39 am (10 years ago)

    I made this today and it is fabulous! I’ll post the recipe (giving you credit,of course) tomorrow on my blog..thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful gem!

    • Julie Ruble
      July 18, 2013 at 5:55 am (10 years ago)

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it, Siunna!

  22. Cammy
    December 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm (9 years ago)

    I made this for Christmas Eve breakfast, and it turned out fabulously! I had never made anything like it before, but your instructions were clear and I was able to successfully make a pastry. And it was delicious! Thanks, Julie!

    • Julie Ruble
      December 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm (9 years ago)

      That makes me so happy to hear, Cammy! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I miss you!

  23. Ana
    January 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm (9 years ago)

    I fell completely in love with this. It’s just divine, and should definitely be eaten straight out of the oven. The crust is moist and soft and lovely. I think next time I might add a bit more almond extract to the dough just so the flavor comes through a TAD more, but this was spectacular. Thanks!

  24. Amy
    November 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm (8 years ago)

    How do you store your braids? In the refrigerator? And, how long do they last in regards to freshness? (That is if it wasn’t already devoured… :))

    • Julie Ruble
      November 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm (8 years ago)

      Hi Amy! Nothing beats them just cooled a bit and served immediately. If I happen to have them leftover, I cover them in plastic wrap and store them for a few days max, heating up a slice at a time for 30 seconds until warm. They’re not quite as great as fresh slices, but they’re still quite delicious. Hope that helps!

    • Julie Ruble
      November 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm (8 years ago)

      P.S. I’m betting the braids without cream cheese would actually freeze quite nicely, double-wrapped and then covered in foil. You could bake them at 350 until warm to refresh them.


3Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Raspberry Almond Braid

  1. […] But the one I was the most proud of was this raspberry braid that I made for a friend’s Thanksgiving breakfast with her family. The foil on the pan made my photo version look green, but it came out beautifully. I got the inspiration and the recipe from Willow Bird Baking. […]

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