Wednesday, March 6, 2013

At Home: Lemon Pull-Apart Bread

I have been wanting to tackle the task of a "homemade bread" after seeing so many creative interpretations on Pinterest. But using yeast and all the kneading, letting it rise, waiting,and kneading some more seemed daunting! The point of What Micky Eats...At Home is to highlight my culinary adventures - whether they are successful or not.  So, with the encouragement of Keith, I researched and found a great recipe for Lemon Pull-Apart Bread.

Lemon Pull-Apart Bread (Adapted from Barbara Bakes)
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2¼ teasp (1 package) instant yeast
  • ½ teasp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1½ teasp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature 
Lemon Sugar Filling:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (4 lemons)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
Lemon Icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 5 teasp fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon)

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
- In a saucepan or microwave safe dish, heat milk and butter until warm (butter does not have to be completely melted).
- Add liquids to flour mixture. Add vanilla. Blend at low speed until moistened.
- Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
- Switch to the dough hook and mix in the remaining flour a little at a time, to make a soft dough, adding more or less flour as needed.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place about 15 minutes. 
- While the dough is resting, make the lemon sugar filling. Mix the sugar, butter, and lemon zest into a paste.
- Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan, and line with parchment or foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on each long side; butter paper. (For easy removal of the bread from the pan.)
- Punch down the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 20″ x 12″ rectangle.
- Cut dough in to five strips, each about 12″ by 4″ with a pizza cutter.
- Sprinkle 1½ tablespoons of the lemon sugar paste over the first rectangle. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1½ tablespoons of lemon sugar paste as well.
- Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all topped with lemon sugar paste.
- Cut the stack into 6 rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″).
- Carefully transfer the rectangles of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. You might have some extra room around the edges but the bread will rise and expand during baking.
- Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy, 30 to 50 minutes. (When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the loaf is golden brown. (Cover the top with foil if it’s browning too quickly.)
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
- While bread is cooling, make the lemon icing. Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
- Use the parchment paper to help remove the loaf from the pan.
- Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper, then flip onto another rack so that it’s right side up.
- Drizzle icing over bread. Serve warm or at room temperature.

It took a lot of time to prepare, but the layers of light, fluffy sweet bread sandwiched with sweet, fragrant lemon sugar, then drizzled with a tart lemon glaze made for a great dessert and there was plenty left over for breakfast the next morning.  I adapted the original recipe I found because, honestly, I misread it! Haha! So instead of making a paste for the lemon filling, alternately you can just mix the lemon zest and sugar and then sprinkle that on top of buttered dough. It may make for a more even spread. Also, I did not roll out my dough into an exact rectangle - it was still kind of oval shaped, so I was able to get 6 strips out of it.  I do not do things so perfectly as most other food bloggers, which gives the dish some extra rustic charm, in my opinion!  I also want to point out that I made this on a very cold morning here in DC, so the dough did not really rise that much each time I let it rest. Regardless, it raised beautifully in the oven during baking.  Overall, even though it took over 2 hours from start to finish, I loved the lemon zing of this sweet bread.  And the pull-apart-ness was so fun and dangerous, as you can easily keep eating more and more!

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