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 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 10x15" 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.