I made a lovely lemon bread the other day. It was light and fresh with a bright citrus flavour. I had seen the recipe a while ago on Leite's Culinaria and I bookmarked it, where it became one in a long list of recipes I wanted to try. I probably have about 2 full pages of recipes that fall under that category.
But then, a couple of days ago something made me go back to that list and pull out the recipe. It may have had something to do with the lovely organic lemons I found at my local grocery store, but I think it was just the recent burst of warm weather that made me feel like making something, well, sunny.
Now the weather has turned cold again, and it is supposed to rain for the next few days. Even so, I have some amazing pictures that I took when it seemed like summer around here and I have a new recipe for lemon bread.
This is a yeast bread, so it does take a pretty large time commitment, but it is worth it. The dough does not need a lot of work. Just mix it, let it rise and roll it out, so as yeast breads go, it is pretty easy. The recipe could easily be changed into orange or even cinnamon bread.
Lemon Pull-apart Coffee Cake
adapted from Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker via Leite's Culinaria
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cream cheese icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt and set aside. Heat the milk and butter in a small pan over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm or about 120 to 130°F.
Add the vanilla extract and pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup 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.
Remove the dough from the bowl and quickly form into a ball. Sprinkle a work surface with a small amount of flour. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute. You can add additional flour if needed, but try not to use more that 2 tablespoons.
Place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. The dough is ready for the next step when you can press your finger lightly into the surface and the indentation remains.
Make the paste while the dough is rising. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and both zests. Set aside. The mixture will appear dry at first but the sugar will draw moisture from the zest making a wet paste.
Assembling the Cake
Lightly butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
Punch the dough down. Remove from the bowl and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a pastry brush, spread the 1/4 cup of melted butter over the dough. Be generous with the butter, but you may not need it all. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar/zest mixture over one of the buttered rectangles. Top with a second rectangle and sprinkle it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining dough sugar mixture, ending with a stack of 5 rectangles.
Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 by 2 inches. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. Do not worry if it does not fit exactly into your pan. The dough will spread to fill the space as it rises and bakes. If it is tight lengthwise that is fine. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. During the last 20 minutes of the second rise, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cream Cheese Icing
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and lemon juice until the mixture is creamy and smooth. The mixture should be a little runny.
While still warm, remove the coffee cake from the pan, loosening the sides with a spatula and invert on a baking rack
Place a piece of waxed paper under the rack to catch any drips from the icing. Pour the icing mixture over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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