Lemon Pull Apart Bread

Yes, I know, I know, I’m extremely late to this party. Every food blogger and his dog has written about this bread, or it’s cinammon flavoured counterpart, but I’m adding my post to the long list of tear and share bread related ramblings.

I’d actually avoided making this because as much as I am addicted to citrus, my body actively punishes me when I eat bread, but saw so many tasty looking pictures that I finally gave up pretending that I wasn’t going to make this.

This nearly never made it to the table at all, as 15 minutes after putting it in the oven I realised that I’d switched the grill on and not the oven, so had to snip some burnt bits off the top. But thankfully, the rest of it was as glorious as you’d expect – syrupy, gooey, lemony and moreish.

I got the recipe from Buttered Up, whose pictures are infinitely better than mine. I did use only 3 large lemons instead of six, which I thought was quite sufficient. Again – a recipe made using cups!! I also skipped the cream cheese icing as I really don’t think it needs it.

2 ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
¼ cup of white granulated sugar
2 ¼ tsp. of instant yeast
½ tsp. of salt

1/3 cup of whole milk (I used 2% and it was fine)
2 tbsp. of butter, unsalted
¼ cup of water
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Filling:
1 cup of white granulated sugar
6 lemons, zested
2 tbsp. of butter, unsalted, melted

Cream cheese icing (optional)

3 oz. Of cream cheese, at room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of powdered sugar, sifted

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan heat milk and butter over low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat, add water, and set aside for about a minute until the temperature registers 120F-130F, add vanilla.

2. Pour the milk mixture over the dry mixture and combine with a rubber spatula. Mixing by hand, add eggs one at a time (a stand mixer can be used, with a dough hook). This is the trickiest part, it may look like a big shaggy mess, but continue mixing until it is all incorporated. Add 1/2 cup flour and mix until smooth (30-45 seconds). Add remaining flour, 2 tablespoons at a time and knead until smooth and sticky (the dough will be very sticky, resist the urge to add more flour).

3. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Deflate the dough. At this point you can either pop the dough in the refrigerator overnight and resume in the morning, or if you can tackle the dough now (the dough is very sticky and it will be difficult to shape and roll out, so it’s best to chill it a bit).

4. In a small bowl rub sugar for the filling with the zest of the lemons with your fingers.

5. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into roughly a 12 X 20 inch rectangle (erring on the side of smaller is okay here as the finished dough will rises considerably, filling in any gaps). Using a pastry brush spread all of the melted butter over the dough. Cut the dough up to down in strips (12 X 4 inch pieces). Spread 1/5 of the lemon zest mixture onto a rectangle of dough, stack another rectangle on top and repeat. You can reshape the dough as needed to make a good looking stack.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place rack in the center. Lightly grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan or line with parchment paper leaving 1 inch ends to hang from pan so the bread will be easier to take out later.

7. Slice the stack through the five layers into 6 equal sections, about 2 X 4 inches. Fit the layered strip into the loaf pan, cut side down…as if it were a loaf of pre-sliced bread. Cover the pan in plastic and allow to rise another 45-50 minutes until nearly doubled in size. If you poke the dough and the indentation stays it is ready to bake.

8. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes, invert loaf pan gently to release bread or pull out with parchment paper.

9. Optional: Make glaze. Stir cream cheese until smooth. Add lemon juice and powdered sugar, combine. Drizzle over bread.