3 1/2 cups flour (480 grams or 19.9 oz)
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter (345 grams or 12.2 oz)
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 50 grams cake/fresh yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit) (118 milliliter)
1/2 cup heavy cream (118 milliliter)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar (55 grams or 1.9 oz)
seedless raspberry preserves
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
pearl sugar, for topping
sliced almonds, optional, for topping
1 cup powdered sugar (100 gram or 3.5 oz)
2-3 teaspoons warm milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place flour into bowl of food processor with steel blade. Cut butter into 1/4 inch slices and add to flour. Pulse flour and butter until the butter is the size of kidney beans.
In a large bowl, dissolve active dry yeast in warm water (between 100-110 degrees F). Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, cardamom, salt, eggs and sugar. Using a rubber spatula, turn the flour/butter mixture into the liquid and carefully mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, overnight or up to 4 days.
Turn the dough out onto a moderately floured surface. Roll out dough to make a 16 to 20 inch square. Fold dough into thirds, rotate dough a quarter of turn and fold into thirds again, making a small square. Turn over dough. Repeat rolling and folding another two times (making it a total 3 times of rolling and folding). Ending with a small square, wrap dough and chill for 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the chilled dough into two parts. Roll each part into a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. (If not making both braids at the same time, wrap the second half of dough and place in refrigerator until ready to roll out).
Spread filling down the length of center of each rectangle. Cut slanting strips at 3/4 inch intervals along both sides towards to center. Fold strips over the filling in a criss-cross manner. Place both braids onto baking sheets and let dough rise for 15-30 minutes until pastry appears puffy. It will not double in size. Lightly beat the egg and water for the glaze. Once dough has been allowed to rise, brush the pastry with the glaze. sprinkle with pearl sugar and/or almonds.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. To make icing, mix together powdered sugar, warm milk and almond extract. Drizzle icing on top and let set before cutting. Enjoy!