Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lemon Bread Heaven

Have I mentioned that I LOVE King Arthur Flour Recipes, Products, Inspiration, etc., etc.?  Yeah I have, Here, and Here.

I needed a WOW recipe for our Scout Fundraiser last week and I headed straight to KAF!  I found this recipe and I've decided to rename it from Braided Lemon Bread, to Lemon Braid Heaven.  Seriously, it's lucky I have 7 in my family to share with because I easily could have eaten the Whole Loaf.

It does take a few hours to make, so set aside some time, but it is well worth it.

Let's get started.

Lemon Braid Heaven

Get out one block of cream cheese and set aside to soften so it's ready when it's time to make the filling.

In a small bowl create the sponge with:
3/4 cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup KAF unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix well and cover with plastic wrap loosely.  Let sit for about 15 minures.
 It will be a bubbly and poofy when it's ready.

In your stand mixer combine the following:
all of the sponge
3/4 cup plain yogurt, (I used plain greek style yogurt with excellent results)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla or Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor found here.
4 1/2 cups KAF unbleached All-purpose Flour

Mix until you have a dough that looks similar to sugar cookie dough.
 Change your mixing paddles to the dough hook. Mix adding about 1/2 cup flour more, or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.  Mix for 6-8 minutes until you have a smooth dough.  Really this dough is just beautiful!

Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 60-90 minutes until puffy and about doubled.

You can purchase Lemon Curd here.
I decided to make my own since I forgot to order some before I needed to make my bread.  It's super easy.

Get your zester out and zest 2-3 lemons.  After the zesting is done, juice the lemons.
 In a metal bowl, or the top of a double boiler, beat 3 large eggs. To that add:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (not the bottled kind)
Place bowl over saucepan with about 2 inches water to create a double boiler if you don't have one.
Continue wisking constantly for about 10 minutes or until you get the desired consistency or about 160 degrees F.

 When you get the right consistency, cut up 4 Tbsp butter in to small pieces.  Whisk into lemon mixture, then add 1 Tbsp lemon zest.  I think I added more than that, just what was done from the lemons.  The more zest the better in my opinion.
 Cover immediately with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the curd so a skin doesn't form.  Set aside to cool.

Next lets make the
  Cream Cheese Filling.

In a medium bowl combine:
2/3 cups softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup KAF unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix well.

 Now that the dough has risen for about an hour, divide it in half and place one piece on floured piece of parchment paper to make it easier to move when you are ready. Roll out to a 10" by 15" rectangle. Lightly press a crease in the dough to divide it in thirds.

Spread 1/2 cream cheese mixture on the center strip.

 Next add the lemon curd on top, about 1/2 cup.
Now to create the mock braid. Cut the dough as shown making sure there are the same number of strips on both sides.  I cut the bottom triangles out to make the braid look even.  I used my KAF scraper again to make the cuts.  It's an awesome tool!Tuck in the ends and start at the top bringing in each strip, layering it over the previous one as shown.

Repeat on the other piece of dough.
Place the two loaves on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

 Let rise for about 45 minutes or until poofy.  
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush with egg wash.
1 egg
2 tsp water
pinch of salt

Sprinkle with couse sugar if desired.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool 15-20 minutes before serving.

 The dough is light and just a hint of sweetness.  The lemon curd and cream cheese filling are just heavenly!

Luckily my husband volunteered me to make it again for a potluck coming up. I just don't know if I can wait that long!

BTW: This bread was the top seller at the Fundraiser!  Score!

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