Wake and Bake: Braided Strawberry Cheese Bread
Many people look to celebrities to validate their own behavior. Personally, I've never tried to get into a taxi while missing certain undergarments, gone on a juice cleanse, or poured myself a drink from a magnum of champagne while relaxing on my mega yacht (OK, that last one is just because I'm poor. It's totally on my bucket list.) But I have had one "oh-my-god-a-famous-person-does-it-so-it-must-be-OK" moment, and that came after reading Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl.
In this memoir, the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet fesses up to buying doughnuts from New York City street carts: you know, the little ones that look like tin cans and sell coffee and bagels. Even better? She would just eat the jelly out of the middle of the stale, sub-par doughnuts, then throw the rest away. But wait, wait, want to know the absolute best part? She did all this jelly eating furtively, clandestinely, while sitting at her desk at the New York Times where she was the paper's famed restaurant reviewer.
In short, Ms. Reichl validated two of my most embarrassing loves. First, my love for eating jam plain. And second, my love for eating just the cheese filling from cheese danishes, those lowly pastries that are so often left lingering at the end of office meetings (until I scoop them up, bring home, and eat out the middles). It's that very same sugary cream cheese filling that fills this pretty, braided bread. The yeasted dough is tender and brioche-like and a layer of strawberry preserves mingles with the cheese. The result is my ideal breakfast bread: soft, sweet, and fruity with just a bit of tang.