I made this bread for my weekend brunch and I can't wait to make it again. Sweet soft dough is braided on top of lemoncurd and cream cheese filling and then baked into warm golden goodness.
I had spotted the recipe for the bread a while back on Smitten Kitchen and added it to my 'I want to make this' list. If I had known that it really isn't as difficult to make as it first appears I would have made it a lot sooner.
Thankfully, for this bread you make a sponge first by combining a few ingredients with the yeast. Within minutes I could see that the yeast was alive and bubbling in the sponge and I was finally able to convince myself that maybe I wasn't cursed with some sort of evil yeast-deactivating powers.
The dough is covered and left to double in size. My kitchen was chilly and a bit drafty so I placed my bowl with the dough near my warm oven to help with the rising process.
While the dough was rising I made the lemon curd and the cream cheese mixture. You can buy lemon curd already made but I had the ingredients on hand so I decided to just make a batch of it. I use Martha Stewart's recipe which you can find here.
When the dough has finished it's first rise it's time to roll it out and assemble the lemon loaf.
In the middle section you spread the cream cheese mixture, and then spoon and spread the lemon curd on top. Leave the top and bottom two inches free.
After the pieces are cut remove the top and bottom pieces from each side leaving the part of the dough that is not spread with lemon curd by itself
Since I was making this the night before I just covered it in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge. The next morning I turn on my oven for a bit, then turned it off and put the loaf inside to come to room temp in the warm oven.
One it had returned to room temp I let it rise for 50 minutes.
And then baked it for 30 minutes.
Braided Lemon Bread
(from Smitten Kitchen)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
white sugar for sprinkling
Lemon cream cheese filling
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) homemade or prepared lemon curd
1. Make the sponge- combine sponge ingredients in a small bowl stirring well to combine. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 15 minutes.
2. Make the dough - In a stand mixer combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
3. Prepare the cream cheese filling : mix together the filling ingredients (except for the lemon curd) until smooth
4. Punch down the dough and roll out into a 10" by 15" rectangle on a well floured surface. Transfer the rectangle to a square of parchment paper (this is IMPORTANT. You need to do this so that you can move the assembled loaf onto a baking trap). Press two lines into the dough dividing it into three equal sections.
Spread the cream cheese topping on the middle section and then spread the lemon curd over it leaving the top and bottom two inches free.
Cut strips one inch apart on the two outside sections. Remove the top and bottom strips so that the middle section of dough with no spread on it is by itself.
Fold the top and bottom middle flaps in. Then begin crossing the one inch strips alternatively to make the mock braid. (It really helps to check out the pictures for this part)
5. Let the loaf rise for 50 minutes until puffy
6. Brush the loaf with the egg mixed with one tsp water, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool for around 15 mintues before cutting and serving.