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Parmesan Pesto Braid

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Parmesan Pesto Braid is an excellent addition to your next dinner party. It has a very robust flavor and goes well with any pasta dish.

This recipe makes two braids. This dough freezes well so bake one braid and freeze the other for later use. Remember to fully thaw before baking as directed below.

Ingredients:

Makes 2 braids

1 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or to taste

1 1/2  cup pesto or to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping

Sponge:

 1 tablespoon instant yeast

 1 teaspoon sugar

 1 1/2 cup warm milk

 2 cups all-purpose flour

Dough:

 2 eggs

 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 1/4 cup sugar

 2 ½ - 3 cups all-purpose flour

 1/2 cup soft butter

Egg Glaze:

 1 egg

 1 tablespoon milk

Cream Cheese Filling:

 1 cup cream cheese

 1 tablespoon egg glaze

Instructions:

Sponge:

In a medium mixing bowl mix the sugar, yeast, and flour together in bowl. Pour in the warm milk. Beat until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft free area for 1/2 hour.

Dough:

To the sponge add the eggs, salt, sugar, and one cup of the flour. Beat the mixture until it is smooth.

Then add the butter in small chunks and beat well .

Add the remaining flour a 1/4 cup at a time. Mix in until soft dough ball is achieved and the butter is thoroughly incorporated.

Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer until it is smooth and satiny, about 7 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough, return the dough to the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

Egg Glaze:

Combine the egg and milk in a bowl and beat until combined.

Cream Cheese Filling:

Combine all the ingredients for the cream cheese filling in a bowl and mix until combined.

Divide the dough into two pieces.

Using a rolling pin shape each piece into a 15 inch X 9 inch rectangle. The rectangle should be thin.

Now spread your cream cheese filling in the center of the dough  You do this down the long center. Spread it about 3 inches wide. Next spread the pesto on top of the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle the 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated parmesan on top of the pesto.

At an angle, slice the sides of the dough that do not have filling on into slabs approximately 1 inch wide.  Cut them all the way to within 1/2 inch of the filling.

Alternating from side to side, fold the slabs of dough in over the filling. Gently press on the tabs to seal the folds.

After the dough has been fully folded, glaze the braid with the egg wash.

Place the braid onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover loosely with a warm damp clean cloth. Place in a warm draft free area to rise until doubled in size. This should take 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Prior to placing the Parmesan  Pesto Braid in the oven, glaze it again with any remaining egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Place the Parmesan  Pesto Braid in the oven and bake on the center rack of the oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

Rotate the baking pan once after 20 minutes so that it bakes evenly.

Remove the Parmesan  Pesto Braid from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy

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