Brioche Bread Christmas Ring that is beautifully assembled and filled with honey stung cream cheese filling and studded with tender crisp almonds.
In the bowl of heavy duty mixer, add the yeast, milk, egg and 1 cup all purpose flour. Mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the top as if to cover mixture. do not stir in. Let this stand for about 40-45 minutes. There will be cracks on the flour surface at this point.
Add the sugar, salt, eggs and 1 cup of flour to the bowl with the yeast mixture. Using a dough hook, run the heavy duty mixer on low speed for about a minute until the mixture is just about incorporated. Add the remaining half cup of flour and run the mixer in medium speed. Continue to beat, scraping the bowl as needed, for about 15-20 minutes. You will know when the dough is ready if it is coming together in the center of the bowl, and also attaching itself into the dough hook. You should see the dough slapping the sides of the bowl, like it is almost violently throwing itself to the sides white it still clinging and rotating with the dough hook. You should also hear the slapping sounds.
Now add the butter bit by bit. Make sure that the butter is in in room temperature, but not warm or oily. When you add the butter, the dough will fall apart again for a moment. Continue to beat until you hear the slapping sounds again. This should take about 5 minutes or so. The dough is now , once again, clinging together in the center and in the dough hook with the slapping sound. Dough is sticky but shiny at this point.
Place the ball of dough into a greased bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Let stand in room temperature until the size is doubled, about 2 hours.
After the dough has doubled in size, gently deflate it by lifting and then letting it fall back to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. The dough will double in size again ( After the long chill, you can now divide the dough in half. You are only going to use 1/2 of the dough for one bread ring. Reserve the other half for future use. You can freeze the dough for up to three weeks, tightly wrapped in plastic and foil).
Whisk together honey and cream cheese until smooth. This can be stored and refrigerated for up to two days.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Take 1/2 of the brioche dough (as we are only going to need half of the recipe as stated above) and roll it out to a rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Trim the corners and sides of the rectangle as needed so you have neat straight edges. Spread the cream cheese filling over the surface of the dough. Use a spoon or an angled spatula to make the filling even.
Starting on the long side, roll the rectangle into a tight log. Trim the the two ends of the log so they are straight and even. With your hands, gently squeeze and stretch the log to make it thinner and longer. Put the seam side of the log down against the surface and connect the two ends together to form a circle. Pinch the ends together to seal. Place the dough ring on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. If you feel that the dough is too warm, refrigerate it for about an hour or so just to firm it up again.
Using a sharp knife, cut one inch sections around the circles starting from the outer edge but without cutting all the way through. You have to leave about half an inch uncut on the inside edge of the circle. Now use your hands to fan out the sections: Twist each section to the right so that the left cut side is facing almost up (about ten o clock position). Let this rise for 2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Brush the surface of the assembled dough with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Transfer the parchment paper to a wire rack and let the pastry cool or be warm before drizzling with the glaze and topping with almonds. (To make the egg wash beat 1 tablespoon of milk with 1 egg).
Whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth. Pour this over the cooled pastry. Top with sliced almonds.
Method of assembly from Pinch of Yum.