Almond Hazelnut Wreath Ingredients
Melt the butter.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a food processor, finely grind the nuts into a meal. Add the sugar and spices. Process with the remaining filling ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
Warm the milk up slightly so that the butter won't congeal when combined (it is so gross when it happens so just don't). Add the melted butter to the milk, continuously stirring. Pour the liquid into a mixing bowl. The milk and butter mixture should be luke warm, not hot.
Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until a dough forms. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes (autolyse). Then, with the dough hook attachment, knead the dough for a few minutes. If the dough appears to be very sticky, sprinkle a little flour and continue kneading. The finished dough should be soft and only a little tacky.
Roll out into 26 x 18 inch rectangle. If the dough resists, wrap it up in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for half an hour before trying again.
Cut into 26-inch long thirds. Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese filling on one piece of dough, leaving 1/2 inch clear on one long side. Roll the dough up to form a 26" rope. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Lay all three ropes next to each other. Braid from the center towards one end. Turn the board around and braid the other half. Bring the ends together to form a wreath, pinching the ends to seal.
Place on baking sheet with an oiled round cutter/bowl in the center to prevent the rising dough from filling the middle.
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave for 45-60 minutes (somewhere warm - ~75degF or so) or until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 375degF.
For the topping, melt the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Take off the heat and add the brandy. Brush the syrup on the loaf. Sprinkle the almond slices over the top.
Bake for 20 min. Reduce temp to 350degF and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the wreath is golden and well-risen. Turn onto wire rack to cool.