Sourdough Cherry Marzipan Braided Bread

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For the second year in a row, I brought a sourdough dessert to Thanksgiving. Yep, sourdough. dessert. It’s been a huge hit both years! Cherry and almond are two of my favorite flavors, so why not combine it with the most satisfying of breads?

I made this sourdough braided bread long-fermented, which means I fermented the dough for 72 hours in the fridge before assembling and baking. You don’t have to do this, but I did because I wanted the amazing benefits of long-fermented sourdough.

These are the brands I get for the marzipan and the cherries, but I have also used these cherries from Italy and they are fantastic. You could use maraschino cherries or jam, as well as any brand of marzipan.

As you’ll see in the directions below, roll out your dough, cut side strips that you’ll use to make the braid, and then in the middle place all your fillings. After this, you’ll “braid up” your bread by crossing over each of the dough pieces.

Optional: cut off the end pieces of the dough to create a flap that folds over (like what you see in the photo). It works just find if you don’t do this, but for extra security against seepage from really runny fillings, this is a good idea.

cherry marzipan braided twist

Sourdough Cherry Marzipan Braided Bread

Print Recipe


  • Dough
  • 160 g milk or milk alternative 2/3 cup
  • 42 g unsalted butter softened (3 tbsp)
  • 100 g active bubbly starter (1/2 cup)
  • 24 g honey or sugar 2 tbsp
  • 300 g 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3-5 grams sea salt 1/2 tsp
  • Note: If you want to make things much easier you can use the bread recipe from the sourdough focaccia recipe. I’ve done it before and it works great.
  • Fillings
  • Amarena cherries chopped
  • Almond paste 1/2 box, chopped and rolled out
  • Cream Cheese Filling optional but delicious
  • 8 oz cream cheese or dairy-free Kite Hill cream cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional Egg wash
  • 1 large egg white beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Glazes/Toppings for After Baking
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • splash of almond extract optional, for extra almond flavor
  • leftover cherry syrup from the Amarena cherry jar
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • Other Filling ideas If cherries and almond aren’t your thing
  • 3/4 cup fresh frozen or canned fruit
  • Jam of your choice
  • Lemon curd or Lemon Honey
  • Pie filling
  • Raspberry jam crushed gingersnap cookies, and cinnamon or gingerbread spice mix
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chocolate or Nutella with cream cheese filling
  • Peaches and cream
  • Apple sauce or pear sauce


  • Make the dough: Add the milk, soft butter, sourdough starter, honey/sugar, and flour to stand mixer with a dough hook attached. Mix briefly, then add in the salt. Mix on low speed until the dough becomes smooth and glossy, about 3-5 minutes. You can also do this by hand, just mix and knead to make a dough that is shaggy and sticky, then knead for 5-10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, replenish your sourdough starter with fresh flour and water and store according to your preference.
  • Bulk rise: Form the dough into a ball and transfer the dough to a new, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, foil, lid or beeswax wrap and let rise at room temperature or a warm spot until it is doubled in size, about 8 to10 hours at room temp (70 degrees F). Usually I do this overnight.
  • For long-fermentation: In the morning, place the bowl in the refrigerator to continue fermenting for 8 hours, or up to 3 days.
  • On the day you are going to bake:
  • Prep the dough into a flat rectangle: Remove the dough onto a nonstick baking mat or lightly oiled work surface to prevent sticking (preferred is nonstick silicone baking mat because then you don’t have to pick up the braid later on). Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to make the dough easier to roll. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about the size of a rectangle baking sheet (about 9″X12″).
  • Add fillings: Spread the cream cheese filling down the center and top with the other fillings.
  • Create strips for braiding: Using a sharp knife, create strips of dough about 1-2 inches wide on each side of the long side of the rectangle (see photo above) until you have about 8-10 strips. Avoid cutting the center. At this point, you can cut off the top and bottom outside strips so the braid seals better when the top and bottom flaps are folded over the toppings, but this is optional.
  • Braid: Fold the remaining top and bottom pieces of dough down over the filling. Next, braid each strip over itself to the center, alternating sides to create a braid. Angle them down a bit so that by the time you get to the bottom, there is enough dough to encase the bottom of the pastry braid. Braid until the pastry is completely sealed. (You can also twist each strip as you are folding for a fancier design). Pick up the silicone mat with the braid and place on top of a sheet pan. Cover the dough gently and let rest until noticeably puffy, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on temperature.
  • Bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (Optional egg wash- brush with an egg wash at this point). Then, bake for 20-30 minutes or until rich golden brown.
  • After-baking finishing touches: Spread the glaze and cherry syrup over the top (I put them into a sandwich bag and cut the corner for drizzling for a more even look). Then sprinkle powdered sugar overtop. Serve warm and enjoy!


An alternative way to beautify this bread is with a twist rather than a braid. In this case, you will still roll the bread out into a bread a fill it with toppings, but you will fill the toppings completely spread over the whole rectangle. Then you will roll up the dough as if you were rolling cinnamon rolls, cut one long cut down the long middle of the dough (so that they toppings are slightly exposed), and then you will twist the bread from there. Make sure to connect the ends so that they bake together seamlessly.
Course: Bread, Sourdough
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sourdough, sourdough braid, sourdough dessert, sourdough pastry
Author: Olympia Rusu

You can also do a cherry twist as explained in the recipe!

cherry marzipan braided twist

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