I have two boys that I love to bake for (OK, and me. I also love to bake for me, but someone has to help me eat the bounty of my efforts). One has a thing for everything super sweet, especially white chocolate and the other prefers more tart flavours. Hence, a lot of my recipes are either super sweet or something about lemons… This recipe is an absolute hit with the lemon son. It’s delicious warm and although it is best eaten on the day it is made, I’ve had no problems freezing it and serving it later after a quick blitz in the microwave.
The recipe I used was a combination of the original (I think…) Flo Braker recipe on Leite’s Culinaria (go there, it’s a hoot) and Not Quite Nigella’s inspired adaptation where the cream cheese is used as a filling and not for the icing.
As with pretty much all of my yeast doughs, I make the dough for this one using my bread machine, as I am useless at kneading and in cold Canberra, I find the proving works reliably in a bread machine (hand kneading instructions below too).
Lemon pull-apart bread
Makes: 1 loaf (serves 10)
- 360 g plain flour
- 50 g caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 teaspoon bread improver (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 7 g yeast (one pack of dry yeast)
- 60 g unsalted butter
- ½ cup full cream milk, warmed to tepid
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
…for the filling
- 110 g caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons grated lemon rind
- 125 g cream cheese, softened
- 40 g soft butter
…for the icing
- 140 g icing sugar, sifted
- 4-5 teaspoons lemon juice
- Sift flour into a bowl with the sugar, bread improver (if using) and salt.
- In another bowl, activate the yeast in the warm milk with 1 teaspoon sugar for 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter on a low heat, so it is just melted and not hot.
- Add milk/yeast, eggs and vanilla and give it a very light whisk so that everything is incorporated.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl of a bread machine set to ‘dough only’ setting.
- Make the filling by combining the lemon and sugar in a bowl (don’t worry if is goes ‘wet’).
- In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until soft.
- Prepare a loaf tin (23 cm x 13 cm x 6.5 cm) by lightly oiling and lining with baking paper, cut long enough so it comes out over the edges.
- Once the dough has risen, remove from bread machine, ‘knock back’ and knead a little on a lightly floured work counter.
- Roll it out as much as you can to make a 30 cm (wide) x 50 cm (long) rectangle.
- Spread the cream cheese/butter over the entire surface, then completely cover with the lemon/sugar mixture.
- Cut vertically into 6 strips, then carefully pick up each strip and layer one on top of the other to make a 6-layered stack.
- Cut through the stack 5 to 6 times (depending how large your loaf tin is), then pick up each stack and place sideways in the loaf tin one after the other so that the cut edges are all facing upwards and it looks like sliced-up loaf of bread. The slices should not be too snugly lined up in the tin, as the dough will expand as it rises again.
- Cover with a warm tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for thirty minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
- Bake in middle of oven for 30-40 minutes. Let it go nice and brown on the top. I find it needs a bit longer in the oven to cook all the way through because of the volume of cream cheese being used.
- Remove from oven and leave in tin for 15 minutes to cool.
- Lift out carefully (using the overhanging baking paper as handles) and transfer to a serving plate.
- Make the icing by whisking the icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thick slurry, then drizzle over the top of the break while it is still warm and let it ooze into the cracks.
If you do not have a bread maker to mix and prove the dough:
- After combining the activated yeast with the butter and egg mixture, add to three-quarters of the flour mixture and stir and stir until all is incorporated.
- Keep adding the flour until you have a sticky dough.
- Transfer to a stand mixer with a dough hook and knead for a few minutes (or keep doing this by hand).
- Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for one to two hours until doubled in size.
- Go to dot point 6 of the main recipe and keep going.