Maple Brown Sugar Pastry Braid
Maple Brown Sugar Pastry Braid

Maple Brown Sugar Pastry Braid

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 1 braid, about 9-10 servings

This is an incredible fall dessert or breakfast, with a gooey, nutty brown sugar center and a maple glaze. 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. Don’t worry that some of the filling oozes out. It’ll be fine. Set the braid out in the morning as the oven preheats, egg wash it, and then bake as usual. I included some photos below that show the process of marking and assembling a Raspberry Almond Braid to show the process of assembly. It’s super easy to do, but a little fiddly to explain in just words.

Braid Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 ounces cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup milk, minus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped, plus more for topping

Maple Glaze Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
3/4 – 1 cup powdered sugar
cinnamon for sprinkling

Make the filling: Whisk together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, egg, and maple flavoring to form a paste. Stir in toasted pecans and set aside in the fridge.

Make pastry braid: Preheat the 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 sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead very lightly for just 4-5 strokes (be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — just knead for these few strokes and let it stay a little rough.)

Very lightly flour the top of the dough and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough to an 10- by 15-inch rectangle (I lift the paper off every now and then and flip the dough and repeat on the other side, to ensure the dough isn’t sticking). Remove the top sheet of parchment and discard. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread your brown sugar paste down the middle third of the dough — try to keep your filling about 1/4 inch from the mark on both sides. I piled it up a bit (not so much that it was overflowing, but plenty!)

Continue assembling the braid: (Remember, there are photos below to help visualize this step!) Make diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center filling area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in an alternating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely hide your filling — it’s actually nice when the filling is peeking out. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash mixture. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through, the filling is set, and the top is lightly browned. Let the braid cool slightly while you make your glaze.

Make the Maple Brown Sugar Glaze: Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts, whisk in the brown sugar, syrup, and salt, stirring until the brown sugar melts. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the maple extract and powdered sugar, starting with 3/4 cup and adding more to thicken per your preference (taste as you go to ensure you don’t oversweeten). Drizzle the glaze over the top of your braid. Sprinkle the braid with toasted pecans and a dusting of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

16 Comments on Maple Brown Sugar Pastry Braid

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 7, 2014 at 4:01 am (8 years ago)

    I’ve never been to Chicago, but really want to go!! I also want to make this braid…today. It’s lovely!

  2. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom
    November 7, 2014 at 8:26 am (8 years ago)

    Julie, I love your description of the coffee shop!!! So sweet!! I have to say that I see little glimpses of “sweetness” more so since I moved here to the Midwest. . but the cold here, just wait. It’s pretty harsh (with the wind) come December and January. Another pastry braid of deliciousness!! I love it!! so beautiful! It’s been so fun meeting you and hanging out with you!!! #teamnumberonealltheway!! 😛 See you later!!

  3. Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen
    November 7, 2014 at 8:42 am (8 years ago)

    Can I come move into that coffee shop with you….and can you maybe bring 10 of these beautiful braids with you! This looks absolutely amazing! So fun meeting you this week!

  4. Charlotte @ Drop Dead Bread
    November 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm (8 years ago)

    Sounds like there’ll be competition for sleeping space in that coffee shop with the number of us who want to join you!

  5. Jennifer | Bake or Break
    November 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm (8 years ago)

    I don’t even drink coffee, and I want to move into that coffee shop with you. Just be sure you bring along this bread because it looks like one of my life’s necessities.

  6. Lori in NC
    November 7, 2014 at 11:00 pm (8 years ago)

    I actually laughed out loud over your description of winter in Raleigh. It’s as if we take the fight against the cold personally. I was still wearing sandals in Raleigh yesterday. I still haven’t packed them away for the winter. (Because, it could be in the 80’s again next week, and then freezing two days later.)

  7. Marcia S.
    November 8, 2014 at 1:30 am (8 years ago)

    Welcome to Chicago, and the Chicagoland area! Yes, it will be very cold, and at times very snowy, but it can be beautiful too. I want to go to that coffee shop too! Thanks for the pastry recipe, it looks great!

  8. Kellie @ The Suburban Soapbox
    November 8, 2014 at 10:42 am (8 years ago)

    Why on earth was I not in this coffee shop? I needed coffee…but had a duck salad instead. And a nap. Your pastry braid is exactly the answer to a crisp, cold northern evening. This will be on weekly rotation, as will my stretchy pants. 🙂

    November 8, 2014 at 11:53 am (8 years ago)

    Oh, I’ve just moved from Chicago after living there for 22 years. I’m a Bostonian, born and bred, and was dragged there kicking and screaming due to my husband’s job. We actually brought up our children there in the western suburbs (St. Charles), and it was a wonderful time. Now that both my husband and I are retired, we moved back to Massachusetts to be near family and friends once again. As glad as I am to be back, it was still difficult to move from the Chicago area and the wonderful friends we made. If I could have cloned myself–one of me would have stayed and one would have returned to my briar patch. That’s saying a lot for this Bostonian! When you get settled, do not not NOT miss the opportunity to dine at Meson Sabika in Naperville. It is a Spanish tapas restaurant. My husband and I dined there as often as we could for special occasions–and just because. There are inadequate adjectives to describe how fabulously delicious their “little plates” were. Good luck with your move!

  10. Amy | Club Narwhal
    November 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm (8 years ago)

    Isn’t Chicago the dreamiest? Also, you are killing me with your gorgeous pastry braids! I want to braid everything in pastry now 🙂

  11. Judi Penzone Jerome
    November 11, 2014 at 11:18 am (8 years ago)

    After I cover the braid with plastic wrap on the parchment lined sheet, could I freeze it? Would probably wrap again in plastic and put in a freezer bag. Good idea….or will I ruin my pretty braid?

    • Julie Ruble
      November 11, 2014 at 11:32 am (8 years ago)

      I haven’t tried it, Judi, but I think it would work great! After it’s frozen, I do recommend double wrapping and putting it in a freezer bag as you said. Nice way to get holiday breakfast ready early! Then I’d maybe thaw overnight in the fridge and bake like normal in the morning.

  12. Sue
    July 15, 2019 at 2:00 am (3 years ago)

    This looks delicious, but it will have to go some to beat your Buttery Almond Pastry Braid. Since the technique is basically the same, I’m guessing it will be as good as it looks. I have made the almond braid several times and it always makes me look like a rock star. I make it the evening before I need it, bake it off in the morning and voila, it’s gooey almond heaven. The real beauty is that it is much easier than it looks! Thanks for a terrific recipe!

    • Julie Ruble
      July 15, 2019 at 2:04 am (3 years ago)

      Aw, thank you Sue! That is so great to hear! That one is a favorite of mine and this one is too — I hope you love it!


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