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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Braided Lemon Bread

This bread is amaaaaazing. Do I say that too much? Need some new adjectives? I can't help it, it is delightful and delectable. Goes for breakfast, snack or dessert, don't you love things like that? AND it makes two loaves so you don't feel like it was a waste of time. Big loaves, did I mention? Look:
And it's really only faux-braiding so don't think you can't do it. You just lay the cream cheese and lemon curd fillings down the middle (I KNOW! Sounds great already!), then cut the dough on both sides into strips and lay them alternately across the filling so they overlap and look like a braid! Easy and beautiful, perfect combination. And did I mention you could make the dough in the bread machine? It's an option, see step 3.

It says to sprinkle sparkling sugar on the bread - you can totally use turbinado or any coarse sugar - I got this jar at Michael's by the sprinkles.
That filling! Well as you know anything with lemon curd is destined to be fabulous unless you seriously screw something up. But you won't. Because this recipe comes from King Arthur Flour and they have a trustworthy test kitchen. Plus I also tested it for you so you're all set. Yeasty, lemony, super comforting but also elegant. I can't think of a single occasion this wouldn't be good for, so whip it up and go impress someone.Braided Lemon Bread (print recipe)
Sponge:

3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 T instant SAF yeast or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough:
all of the sponge
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract OR King Arthur Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
egg wash for brushing braid
pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling on braid

Filling:
2/3 cup (5 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup prepared lemon curd, whisked smooth (store-bought or homemade, recipe follows)

1. In a small bowl combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. (*If using a bread machine, skip to step 3a.) If mixing by hand, in the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt and flavoring. Add 4 1/2 cups flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding 1/2 to 1 cup more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency.

3. Place the kneaded 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.

3a. If using a bread machine, place ingredients in the pan and set the machine on the dough cycle. Be sure to check the dough as it kneads and adjust the flour or water as needed to achieve a soft, supple consistency. Let the cycle complete itself.

4. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients except the lemon curd in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.

5. Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and set aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. (Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much easier. I roll mine out, fold it in fourths, move to a parchment-covered baking sheet, unfold to full size, and continue with the braid on the baking sheet.) Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.

6. To form the mock braid, cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have about the same number on each side. It will kind of look like a centipede. Beginning on the left, life the dop dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips cross cross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf. Tuck ends into braid so filling won't spill out.

7. Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for about 60 minutes or until quite puffy.

8. Preheat oven to 375. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 tsp water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 22 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes before serving. Makes 2 loavesRecipe from KingArthurFlour.com

Lemon Curd

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 stick (6 T) unsalted butter, cut into bits

1. Whisk together juice, zest, sugar and eggs in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

2. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour. Makes about 1 1/3 cups

4 comments:

kat said...

have you got a lemon curd recipe that you like? that bread looks amazing - i'm totally salivating as i look at those pictures!

ARLENE said...

Oh, I so want a slice (or 3) of that bread. I love lemon curd and you're right about the K.A. site; their recipes are great.

Sarah said...

This is wonderful, I've been in the mood to cook! I vowed I would add cooking ideas into my blog (http://bohochiccafe.blogspot.com) but have yet to do so. Thanks for the inspiration!

Celeste Elaine said...

I tasted this heavenly bread. It is SOOOOOO good. Thanks for bringing the beautiful array of deliciousness to the family gathering! Love you!

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