Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braid

Slicing a raspberry cream cheese braid with almonds on a cutting board.

This cream cheese pastry makes two large Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braids. This family favorite combines a classic raspberry coffee cake with cream cheese filling for  a showstopping raspberry danish. Perfect for holiday celebrations!

steps to make the pastry dough

If you have a “thing” for brunch-y sweets, then you’re going to love this.  It makes two large pastries that are tender and sweet and absolutely perfect for brunch and holiday entertaining.  This Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braid is a showstopper!

steps to make the cream cheese filling

I don’t know about you, but I would always see recipes like this and think, “no way”.  Too much work, too much trouble.  Just pick up an Entenmann’s coffee cake at the store and be done with it.  I was wrong.  Not only is this do-able, its also a heck of a lot more impressive than anything you can get at the market.  And this recipe makes two large braids, so it’s perfect for special occasions like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day or any time you’ve got folks coming over for breakfast or brunch.

The secret to the filling is King Arthur Flour Instant Clearjel – 8 oz. {affiliate link} Instant ClearJel sets the cream cheese and the raspberry fillings so they don’t ooze and leak.  I couldn’t find it in my local grocery store and ended up ordering it directly from King Arthur Flour.  This 8 ounce jar cost about $6, but there was another $6 for shipping. I’ve included an {affiliate} Amazon links  if you want to get some for yourself.

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steps to filling and forming the braid

This stuff is like a miracle worker for pies, too, preventing fruit fillings from being loose and wet.  In fact, I think I’m going to have to go back through my pie posts and remake them with a bit of ClearJel to see if they come out better.  I suspect they will.

steps for finishing and baking the braid.

To make the dough easier to work with, I rolled it out directly on a piece of parchment paper instead of on the counter, so I didn’t have to deal with transferring it to the parchment and risk losing it’s shape.  Also, to even up the sides and edges, I trimmed my dough with a pizza cutter, it’s so much simpler than working with a knife.  The pizza cutter also worked well for making the decorative strips of dough used for “braiding”.

An overhead shot of the baked braid.

Sprinkle the dough with sliced almonds and dab the loaves with egg wash.  If you have coarse sparkling sugar, a sprinkle over the loaf will add a beautiful, festive look.

These Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braids are exactly what you want to serve for any special occasion brunch. Also try this Apricot Almond Fruit Pastry – it’s a wow-er.

The raspberry braid being cut.

More breakfast pastries to try:

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a raspberry cream cheese braid sliced to see the filling.
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5 from 13 votes

Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braid

Makes 2 braids – perfect for brunch.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword brunch, cherry coffee cake, christmas, easter, pastries
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 32


For the sponge:

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water 100°-105°
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour

For the dough:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter softened
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest

For cream cheese filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons Instant ClearJel

For raspberry filling:

  • ½ cup raspberry jam seedless
  • 2 tablespoons ClearJel

For Assembly:

  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup coarse white sugar


Make the sponge:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, sugar and flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly.

Make the Dough:

  • To the active sponge, add the sugar, flour, sour cream, butter, salt, egg and lemon zest.  Place in the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead until the dough is soft and pliable, not sticky, about 3-5 minutes with the stand mixer. (Note you can also knead the dough with your hands, but it will take longer.  Just look for the tactile cues of soft dough that’s not too sticky.)

Lightly grease a large bowl (I use a teaspoon of canola oil and a paper towel to coat the inside of a bowl) and place the dough in it. Lightly cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled.

    Make The Cream Cheese Filling:

    • While the dough is resting, add cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon zest to a medium bowl.  With a hand mixer, beat the ingredients together.  Add the ClearJel and egg and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula until very well combined.  Set aside.

    Make The Raspberry Filling:

    • In a small bowl, combine the raspberry jam and Instant ClearJel.  Mix until well combined and set aside.

    Assemble the Braid:

    • Gently deflate the dough and divide in half.  Cut two pieces of parchment paper to the size of your baking sheet.  Lay one sheet of parchment on the work surface and set one half of the dough onto it.  Shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands, then roll it out to a 10×15″ measure.  Use a ruler to measure and assure the work surface is large enough.

    Using a pizza cutter, trim away any uneven or misshapen edges of the dough so that you’re working with a truer rectangle.

    • In a 2″ swath, vertically down the center of the dough, spread half of the raspberry filling. Top the filling with half of the cream cheese layer and evenly spread it over the jam. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of almonds.
    • Using the pizza cutter, make parallel cuts, about 2 1/2″ long at a 45° angle down each side of the braid.
    • Fold the top and bottom edges over the filling.  Alternate pulling one strip at a time down over the center of the braid, overlapping the filling and continuing until the loaf is breaded.  Tuck in the ends.  Continue in this manner with the second braid.

    Cover the braids and let them rise for 30-45 minutes until they’re puffy.

    • Preheat the oven to 350°.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Sprinkle each loaf with 2 tablespoons of almonds.  Lightly brush with egg wash.  Sprinkle each loaf with 2 tablespoons sugar.
    • Bake for 32-36 minutes until golden brown.  remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.


    Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 52mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 215IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.7mg

    “Pin It” For Later!

    This step by step recipe for cream cheese pastry makes two large Raspberry Almond Cream Cheese Braids that are perfect for holiday brunch! This family favorite combines a classic raspberry coffee cake with a cream cheese filling for danish into a showstopping raspberry danish. #raspberry #creamcheese #brunch #danish #pastry #coffeecake #danishrecipe #raspberrycoffeecake #raspberrybraid #creamcheesebraid #creamcheesecoffeecake

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    1. Randi Ferguson says:

      Has anyone froze this before the final rise and allowed to thaw and rise at another time? This looks delicious but would love to prepare before Xmas and it can be cooking while we are enjoying the morning.

      1. I haven’t frozen it before the final rise, however, I have baked it and THEN frozen it to serve later. Just make sure that it’s completely thawed. If you’d like to warm it, put it in a 300° oven for about 12-15 minutes.

    2. Yvonne Elaine Carlund says:

      Can I use Sure Jell for making jam?

      1. Sure Jell is for actually MAKING jam (for toast and sandwiches). ClearJel thickens the already prepared jam so that it doesn’t liquify and run in the braid. They are two very different things.

    3. 5 stars
      This braid looks amazing! I can just imagine the satisfaction of slicing into it, knowing that everything was made from scratch. I’ve never heard of Instant ClearJel but it sounds really cool and I’m sure I need one. I will be trying to find it at my local stores but I doubt I’ll be successful. I may need to order online.

      1. I had to order it directly from King Arthur Flour’s website.

    4. 5 stars
      This pastry sounds just delicious! So perfect for a great brunch or breakfast, and I can’t wait to try it out! I loved reading about the clear jel, so interesting, and thanks for the information!

    5. 5 stars
      Not only this raspberry almond cream cheese is so impressive but you are absolutely right! Nothing compares to the flavor of homemade in small batches pastries! I am so excited to learn about Instant Clear Jel. No more messy oozing for me! Love the step by step photos too! and the photo of the final product is stunning!!! Wow! Lovely.

      1. Thanks, Kathy! That ClearJel is amazing stuff! Worth hunting for.

    6. 5 stars
      This is definitely a show stopper! I love the classic flavor combination and now I’m super interested in trying out the ClearJel product! I cannot wait to try this!

    7. 5 stars
      I’m still intimidated Lisa, but if you say so! You make it look so easy– I’ll have to look for the magical ClearJel and see if it can help my baking skillz (or lack thereof lol)

    8. 5 stars
      What a beautiful braided pastry! It looks like it came from a fancy bakery. I love sour cream doughs, they’re always so tender. This would be such an impressive addition to a brunch table, or really any time of year when you have overnight guests. Definitely adding this to my entertaining repertoire!

    9. Love this almond cream cheese braid! It looks beautiful and delicious!

    10. 5 stars
      Ok Lisa, this looks crazy goooood! I need to add it my “baking ambition” list b/c, well, I need to bake this. Looks stunning and elegant. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      1. Thanks, Traci — it’s easier than you might think, plus I’ve included a few tips in the post.

    11. 5 stars
      Yummy!! I am a sweet brunch type of gal!! Your raspberry almond cream cheese braid looks fabulous!! I’ve never used that ClearJel but I need to look for some! I think I’ll surprise my hubby on Christmas morning with this lovely braid!!

      1. I’d never heard of ClearJel either, but this stuff WORKS.

    12. 5 stars
      Wooah yeah that was my thought too, way to much work to make this from scratch. However I do get your point and besides I love braided cream cheese raspberry bread.

    13. After making the braids, before baking, could you put it in the fridge overnight? Or freeze for a later date if you can’t eat two?

      1. I actually froze both braids after baking them — so we could have them for Christmas morning. I imagine you could freeze them before baking (though I haven’t tried it). To do that, I would fill them and braid them accordingly, then immediately wrap them in parchment and freezer paper. To bake, defrost completely, then let them rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour before baking.

    14. 5 stars
      This looks extra delicious. I really like how you show the ‘stages’ of the recipe including how the dough should look being formed. I sometimes have trouble with dough and knowing the consistency it should be so this is very helpful, thank you!

      1. I had the same issue with wondering what it should look like. Glad the step by step photos help.

    15. 5 stars
      This is beautiful! – and looks delicious too!!