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by on July 31st, 2011

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Bread

Pucker up for this Lemon Bread!


With my daughter’s wedding coming up in October, I’ve been really watching what goes into my mouth. At this time of the game, any weight lost would be appreciated. Well, let me tell you this past two weeks has been a challenge and I think I made it through with flying colors.

It started a couple of weekends ago with my daughter’s dress fitting followed by two days of some great food. That was the end (at least for a while) of me over indulging myself. Then that weekend was followed by me preparing dinner twice for visiting friends and then four days with our niece and her family visiting. Those four days consisted of making ice cream 4 times, grilled pizza, potato breakfast casserole, cheese grits and I have to say not a crumb touched these lips.

My husband is my best critic because he tells it like it is when I ask for his opinion. And, his opinion on this lemon bread is that it is the BEST. My nieces’ family agreed that it was a wonderful bread.

I love Flo Braker’s Sweet Miniature cookbook and when I came across this recipe from her book “Baking for All Occasions” I knew I was going to have to try it. She calls it a cake but to me it is more like a sweet breakfast bread.

The cutting directions to me seemed a little confusing so I kind of drew it out on paper as to how I was suppose to do the cutting. When I make this again, I’m trying something different. This yeast dough reminds me a lot of the dough I use to make pull bread. So, I decided when I make this the next time, I’m cutting the dough in little pieces, making balls and layering it in a bundt pan with the lemon sugar filling. I think it will be just as yummy. I so wanted to try my way the first time but, as always, I was up for the challenge of making it like the picture I saw. If you want to go the easy route, make it into pull bread.

I’m making this again in August and I’m going to be the first one in line to taste it. (See notes on other thoughts on preparing in advance.)

In the bowl for the rise.

I mixed my zest and sugar the night before I was putting the bread together. I think it made the sugar even more citrusy.

Roll out 12″ x 20″ and cut into five strips.

The strips are butter and sprinkled with the citrus sugar and stacked and then cut into 6 sections.

All the pieces stack up like little soldiers.

Let rest on cooling rack for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.

I should have beat my softened cream cheese with mixer so it would have been smoother.

Pull Apart Lemon Bread
From Flo Braker (Lemon Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake)
Makes a 9″x5″ pan

Sweet Yeast Dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Sugar Filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make the Sweet Yeast Dough
Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]). Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work with. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.

Meanwhile, make the lemon sugar filling. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. It’ll draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. [I suggest using a ruler and getting this as accurate as possible, for a prettier loaf that will fit better in the pan. I also suggest making sure both sides are floured, so that the dough will be easy to lift up later.] Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar. [I suggest carefully sprinkling the sugar and pressing it in lightly to keep it from falling off.]

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. [Mine took longer than this, and it was still a little doughy in the middle even though the top had browned. I recommend using a cake tester to make sure it’s done, and covering the top with foil if it’s browning too quickly.] Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

The recipe recommends you tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I just carefully ran a knife around it. Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack, then flip onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm cake with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks. [You might want to put a pan or piece of wax paper under to catch any drips.]

Eat warm or at room temperature. You can also cut the cake with a knife, but wait for it to cool if you plan to do so. The cake tastes better on the first day, but… it will hardly last that long.

NOTES: I think if you cut this and put into the loaf pan you can cover and refrigerate the night before. Remove in the morning, let rise for about an hour and then bake. That’s what I’m trying the next time.

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