Anne of Green Gables? Anne of Avonlea? You know what I’m talking about, right?
Seven hours (seven hours!) of romantic red-headed fun, culminating in a glorious final five minutes, when Gilbert (after 7 whole hours, poor boy) finally wins Anne’s love. And then there’s a sweet little 2-second kiss, and then the credits roll. Lovely!
Right before Gilbert goes in for the kill, Anne spouts out a little gem of wisdom that has become a sort of credo for me: “It’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”
So, can I get a little personal here? Okay. We just moved. We bought a wonderful little house in Orem, Utah. And we love it here. Moving by itself is pretty taxing, but when you add third-trimester pregnancy and a curious toddler into the equation… well, heh. Yeah, taxing.
I’ve been thinking about Anne lately. Surely… surely… being worn out isn’t all that’s in store for me as I transition to a new home and finish the end of this pregnancy. I don’t want to sit around and let circumstances happen. Part of the beauty of life is that we have the power to act, not be acted upon. Anne could back me up here.
This is why I put together a loaf of braided bread in the middle of a stressful week — lest you think I’m crazy. I may not have control over my little boy’s bloody nose, or the spiders in our new basement, or the Braxton-Hicks, or the piano movers forgetting to give back the apartment key and then going off to Disneyland (good one, guys).
But bread! Yes! I can bring a pretty loaf of delicious bread into my world. So life is sweet.
This bread actually comes together much faster than you’d think. So, no intimidation allowed. I used SAF Instant Yeast. It’s a different animal than active dry yeast, which is what most people use. So, be aware of that. Instant yeast is slightly more expensive, but you don’t need to proof it first, and it only needs to rise once before baking. I don’t have to tell you that that’s awesome.
Apricot Cheese Braid
Adapted from The Taste of Home Baking Book
1 Tablespoon SAF instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 – 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apricot preserves
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, milk, butter, sugar, egg, salt, and 1/2 cup of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough, and knead until it’s smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. You may need to grease your hands for this.
Roll the dough out into a 15- by 9-inch rectangle. Place on a greased baking sheet. Spread the cream cheese filling lengthwise down the center third of the rectangle. Spread the apricot preserves evenly on top of the cream cheese.
On each long side, cut 1-inch width strips, about 1/2 inch from the filling. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across the filling. Seal the ends. Cover and let rise in a slightly warm place until doubled in size (about 30-40 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bread gently with milk, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.