No-Knead Cream Cheese Braids

I’m pretty excited about today’s recipe because it’s sure to become a mainstay at our house.  I hope you like it, too!  The recipe is called “Cream Cheese Braids” and I found it while looking for a good cream cheese filled yeast bread — something similar to the Entenmann’s Cheese Danish Twists we used to buy in New York. Quite a few copycats popped up, and I was ready to pull out my stand mixer and dough hook; but at the last minute I found this recipe. It’s a yeast bread that doesn’t require kneading, so you can skip the dough hook (or elbow grease, if that’s  what you use to knead) entirely.

Cream Cheese Braids

There is a catch, of course. After you mix the ingredients you have to put the bowl in the refrigerator and chill it for 8 hours. This reminds me of the technique used in the famous New York Times No-Knead Bread by Jim Lahey, only in this case the sitting period is 8 hours and not 24. Plus the consistency of the dough is completely different in that this one is loaded with sour cream and is fairly stiff, while the NYT dough is quite wet.  In the article, food scientist Harold McGee describes how a long, slow rise time brings gluten molecules into an alignment that helps produce the same kind of strong elastic network you get from kneading. The process might be similar with this dough.    And I will add it’s a very easy dough to work with, though you do need to keep it cold and roll it out on a floured surface.

Cream Cheese Braids

The original recipe is from Southern Living and makes four loaves, but I halved it to make two instead of four and changed the icing.  The loaves aren’t really braided, but I guess they called them braids because theoretically when you cut six “x”s across the top of the dough it should bake into something that resembles a braid. Mine didn’t, but it still baked into a  nice loaf. You can really taste the sour cream in the dough, and the cream cheese filling is excellent. The next time I make it I’m going to put a thin line of good blueberry or raspberry preserves down the center.

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Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake or "Cream Cheese Braids" are Danish style coffee cakes filled with a sweet cream cheese mixture. This recipe does not require kneading, but rather an 8 hour stint in the refrigerator.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 30
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups bread flour (9) or all-purpose
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg**
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine the sour cream, butter, salt and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Let cool to about 105 degrees F.
  2. Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl and let sit until it starts to foam.
  3. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooled sour cream mixture and the yeast to make a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 8 hours.
  4. Punch down the dough (it probably will not appear to have risen much) and divide it into two parts.
  5. Roll each part into a 12- x 8-inch rectangle, and spread each rectangle lengthwise with half the cream cheese filling, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Carefully roll up, starting at a long side; press seam, and fold ends under to seal. Place, seam side down, onto a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Cut 6 equally spaced "X"s across top of each loaf; cover (I recommend loosely if at all) and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  6. Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes or until browned. Let cool, then drizzle with icing and serve. If you want the icing to hold its shape and look pretty, I recommend serving at room temperature. I was worried I'd have to warm the bread and deal with melted icing, but the bread actually tastes great at room temperature. If you want to serve it warm, you might consider putting the icing on at the last minute.
  7. Icing: Mix all icing ingredients together until smooth. Put the icing in a freezer bag or pastry bag. When loaves are cool, snip off end of icing bag and drizzle it across the loaves. Let set.
Sorry about the 2 tablespoons of beaten egg. I know a lot of people hate mixing an egg and only using half of it, but it really makes a difference here because the small amount of egg (as opposed to the whole egg) keeps the filling from being too stiff. So 2 tablespoons is the perfect amount. If you end up doubling the recipe you can use the whole egg :).

Another note, I used bread flour and loved the results. The original recipe called for all-purpose.


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  1. says

    If you had to guess whether it would be better to freeze one of them before or after baking, which’d you say? (Cooking only for one’s self is a bit lame sometimes!)

  2. says

    Corinne, if you froze the assembled loaf, you’d have to wait a while for it to thaw before baking and then let it rise. That might be a pain, so I recommend baking as directed, cooling, wrapping tightly and freezing.

    Another thing you could do is make half of what I have above. The loaves aren’t that big, so I think you’d enjoy one full loaf and wouldn’t be stuck with it for days on end. If you really wanted to make it last, you could make one loaf, cut it into four generous pieces and freeze them individually. I hope you try it! I’m ready to make another batch and add fruit.

  3. says

    Got a few trips and some gf visitors in the next 2 weeks, but as soon as that’s over I will for sure be trying this! I always end up quite happy when I try your recipes =)

  4. Carolyn says

    Thank you, Anna! I was looking for something without nuts or dried fruit to serve on Christmas morning, and I’ve found it in this recipe! Merry Christmas from a very snowy and cold Ontario, Canada!

  5. Cindy says

    I have been making this recipe for over 35 years. (except mine does call for lemon juice in the filling–I may try that sometime) Anyway, to answer Corrine’s question about freezing—Definitely bake it first, then wrap and freeze it. I always wrap it in foil , as this allows it to be thawed in the fridge then warmed in the oven when one is ready to serve it. This year I am adding an extra step and will use my foodsaver sealer to put the foil-wrapped loaves in. I will be transporting them and want to make sure that they don’t get any water in them, as we will need to put them in a cooler to keep them cold until we arrive at our destination. These are a WONDERFUL holiday splurge. My family asks for them every year about this time and I am happy to oblige. I make extra to share with friends, too. That is how I first obtained the recipe—a friend gave us one for Christmas, along with a recipe card, as she knew I loved to bake. Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂

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