Lemon Cheesecake Braid
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This gorgeous, tangy, sweet pastry braid is the perfect breakfast or dessert. It looks super fancy and will impress guests, but it's shockingly easy to make. If you're a lemon fan, you must make this!
Serves: 6
Dough Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve some for topping)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, room temperature
Icing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Make the filling: Cream the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl until fluffy before adding lemon zest, sugar, lemon juice, and the egg. Mix together until well combined. Set aside on the counter while you prepare the rest of the braid.
  2. Make the pastry braid: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, powdered sugar, 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 until it’s just starting to come together into a loose dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and knead each 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.)
  4. 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 12-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. Pour the melted butter onto the middle third, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the butter and spread it out (I use the back of two spoons to spread it around). Things will get oozy and you will worry that you're messing the braid up. Take a deep breath and soldier through, because it's gonna come out amazing!
  5. 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. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braid overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
  6. Bake and glaze the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg wash mixture. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until the dough is really golden on top and the filling is set. After allowing the braid to cool for around 30 minutes, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon and vanilla extracts, and milk in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. Drizzle over the top of the braid. Top with lemon zest and serve!
Recipe by Willow Bird Baking at http://willowbirdbaking.com/2015/01/05/lemon-cheesecake-braid/