- For Sponge:
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- For Dough:
- Sponge (see above)
- 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- For Filling:
- 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup strawberry preserves
Make Sponge: In a small bowl, stir together water, sugar, yeast, and flour until combined. Let sit until bubbling and proofed, 15 minutes.
Make Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sponge, butter, egg, yogurt, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Add flour and blend one minute. Using the dough hook attachment, knead dough until it has come together in a smooth ball, about 5 minutes.
Lightly butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap followed by a kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Make Filling: In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, and flour until well combined.
Assembly: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Either visually or using your fingers to make light marks in the dough, divide the rectangle into three equal, vertical columns. Fill center column evenly with cream cheese spread. Spread strawberry preserves on top of cream cheese filling.
Make braid by cutting horizontal, one-inch strips down the length of the outer columns of the dough. Make sure that you have an equal number of strips on both sides. Pull top left strip down across the center of the dough. Pull top right strip down on top of it. Continue to pull strips of dough across the bread, alternating sides, until strips have run out.
Cover braid with a dish towel and let rise until puffy and risen in volume, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, lightly beat remaining egg with one teaspoon of water. Brush top of braid lightly with egg wash.
Bake bread until golden, about 25 minutes.