Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Braid

Still riding the lemon curd train! Next stop: a delicious cheese danish plaited with poppy seeds # 252: Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Braid

My mom saved the Food + Wine section of the SF Chronicle for me a few weeks ago, folded to this recipe. I still have a massive amount of lemon curd (not complaining) and had a little bit of frozen puff pastry dough left, so it was meant to be!

Do you instinctively reach for the fanciest pastry in the case? I know pastries don’t have to be pretty to be delicious, but that extra level of delight is what we need right now when we can’t control crazy world events and are feeling a little helpless.

A typical lemon curd recipe only uses egg yolks, but I’ve found that leaving the egg whites in doesn’t actually make a difference to the finished product. And if you’re like me, you already have too many egg whites in your freezer. Gotta go make some financiers and meringues!

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Whisk together all ingredients over low/medium heat, until curd starts to thicken. It’s ready when it starts to hold it’s shape and you can see the whisk marks each time you stir. On my stove, it took about about 7 minutes and had just begun to bubble. It’s super similar to waiting for pastry cream to thicken! It seems like it’ll never work, and then suddenly it’s putting up a fight against your whisk.

Strain lemon curd into a bowl, cover and refrigerate (or freeze!)

You just need an egg yolk for the cream cheese filling, but keep the white for the egg wash on top before it heads into the oven!

You can make a cheese danish in whatever shape strikes your fancy! Pinwheels, coils, kites, squares with tucked-in corners, braids, and my favorites: diamonds with the edges folded in so it looks like the pastry is hugging its filling.

Defrosted and ready to go!

It looks like one of the three-fold pamphlets or a menu! Put the cheese filling down first since it’s thicker and creates a base for the lemon curd.

The lemon curd is decently thick too, but gets pretty runny when heated. The pastry and cheese filling are going to corral it and convince it to stay in the center.

I’m pretty sure this is a fancy cucumber slicer, but it also is a fun pastry cutter. After your braid is in the oven you can use it to make some classy cucumber sandwiches to go along with the danish for tea. (I wish! I was fresh out of bread and cucumbers but love the idea.)

Pastry or moth?


Ooo, aaaahhh. Had to document the pretty scallop edges since they would probably lose definition in the oven.

Here’s that very patient egg white, right on cue.

Poppy seeds freckles already obscuring the design, oops. You could sprinkle them inside instead!

This is one of the few pastries that is better cold in my opinion. I popped it in the freezer to cool it down quickly (too impatient to let it cool on the counter, as per usual) and then stored the leftovers in the fridge for breakfast.

The filling stayed put, yusss.

Happy munching!

Recipe mostly from:

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