Apple-Cranberry Braid

The pleasant astringency of cranberries cuts the sweetness of the sugared pastry, apples, and almond paste in this seemingly-fancy bread braid recipe.

Apple-Cranberry Braid
Photo: Zoë François
Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins


  • cup almond paste

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg yolk

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • Pinch salt

  • 1 ¼ cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

  • ¼ medium orange,unpeeled

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 1 pound No-Knead Dough Base recipe

  • 1 ½ cup thinly sliced apple

  • ¼ cup raw sliced almonds

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

No-Knead Dough Base

  • 3 cup water (105°F to 115°F)

  • 1 tablespoon instant or active yeast

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 6 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour


  1. In a small food processor, process almond paste, butter, flour, egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, and a pinch salt until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

  2. In the same food processor pulse to finely chop 1 cup cranberries, the orange, and 2 tablespoons sugar.

  3. To assemble braid, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over a 16x11-inch sheet of parchment paper. Place a 1-pound piece of dough onto parchment; sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons sugar and cover with plastic wrap. Roll out dough to a 10x12-inch rectangle.

  4. Remove plastic wrap; spread almond paste mixture in a 2-inch-wide strip down center of dough. Top with cranberry mixture. Cover mixture with apple slices, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cranberries.

  5. Cut eight evenly spaced horizontal slices toward filling along each side. Starting from top, cross strips over top of filling. (Strips should cross each other about 1 1/2 inches from ends.) Do not stretch strips too much or they may break during baking. Repeat for all strips, folding last two under loaf.

  6. Place braid on parchment onto a baking sheet; cover loosely. Let rest 45 minutes. (If any liquid leaks from braid, soak it up with a paper towel.) In a small bowl combine sliced almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Gently work mixture together until sugar resembles damp sand.

  7. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush braid with egg wash and sprinkle with almond-sugar mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 1 braid.

No-Knead Dough Base

  1. In a 5-quart nonreactive container, mix water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add flour; mix until just incorporated.

  2. Cover dough loosely; allow to rise at room temperature about 2 hours.

  3. Do not punch dough down. Shape and bake dough the day it's made or refrigerate in a lidded container (not airtight) for up to 14 days. (The dough is easier to work with after several hours of refrigeration.) If dough is chilled, let it rest 30 minutes at room temperature before using. Makes 3 1/2 pounds.

Raspberry-Ricotta Braid

Prepare as directed, but omit almond paste mixture, cranberry filling, apple, and almond-sugar mixture. For ricotta filling: Mix 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, 2 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 teaspoon orange zest, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread on dough; spoon 1/3 cup raspberry jam over ricotta. Top with 1 cup fresh raspberries. Braid, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar; bake. Makes 1 braid.Nutrition analysis per serving: 245 calories, 6 g protein, 46 g carbohydrate, 4 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 34 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 18 g total sugar, 3% Vitamin A, 6% Vitamin C, 171 mg sodium, 4% calcium, 10% iron

This dough keeps in the fridge up to 2 weeks. Remove portions to make a boule, a loaf, or rolls.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

288 Calories
8g Fat
47g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 288
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 155mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 5.9mg 30%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 146mg 3%
Folate, total 83.3mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.1mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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