A Year of Yeast: Lemon Pull Apart Bread

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I just realized this past weekend that it’s been over a month since my last A-Year-of-Yeast post. Can you believe it? This month has been pretty busy, and it completely slipped my mind. This week I’m actually making a recipe I already wrote about on IBC. 

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I made it a few years ago for Easter, and my mom requested  that I make it again this year. Talk about perfect timing. Not only did it cover my Easter dinner contribution, but it doubles as a blog post.

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You’ve probably seen these pull-apart breads floating around the Internet for a while now. There are all kinds: pumpkin, cinnamon sugar, pizza, etc. The list goes on and on. I actually have an idea for a new one, but I’m not sure how it will work. I’ll save that for next week.

If you love lemon, I promise that you will love this. And I’m telling you, if I can put this together, so can you. I think it looks and sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Inspired By Charm

Inspired By Charm

Yes, you have to measure the dough. Yes, I used a tape measure. That’s how everyone measures their dough, right? Other than that, I promise you it’s easy as pie. Well, bread.

Inspired By Charm

Inspired By Charm

I discovered this recipe at Clockwork Lemon who found it at 17 and Baking who got it from Flo Baker. Lots of wonderfully talented ladies. If you have some extra time, stop by and say hello.

Inspired By Charm

Inspired By Charm

Here’s what you’ll need:

Sweet Yeast Dough

2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Sugar Filling


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1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Let’s get baking:

We’ll start with the Sweet Yeast Dough. Mix two cups flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30-45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons of flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. (An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.)

Meanwhile, make the Lemon Sugar Filling. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. This will draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ X 12″ rectangle. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter (or knife if you’re like me) to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ X 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Lightly press sugar mixture into dough to keep it in place. Then, top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ X 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ X 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan so that the cut edges are up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70°F) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30-50 minutes. (When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.)

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30-35 minutes. [Mine took longer than this, and it was still a little doughy in the middle even though the top had browned. I recommend using a cake tester to make sure it’s done, and covering the top with foil if it’s browning too quickly.] Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Cream Cheese Icing. Using a wooden spoon in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack. Then flip the loaf onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm bread with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks.

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Have you made any of these pull-apart breads yet? Which one(s) do you recommend?

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  1. I simply love this bread! It`s delicious and very impressive. Everytime I bake it for guests they wonder how I`ve made it because it is quite a concoction. But they don’t know that it looks more complicated than it actually is 😉

    Michael, this page the pictures are wonderful!!

  2. Michael, love the photos of the fresh zest, the dough… actually, everything! You’re a talented baker, stylist and photographer… I definitely think blogging is your forte and I’m so happy I’ve just found your blog through BHG. I’m an Australian, so I don’t think we have access to exactly the same ingredients as many Americans (so frustrating! I want that jalapeno Cracker Barrel cheese now… we don’t even get Pepperjack!) but I’ll try to replicate some of your recipes as best I can, starting with this one! Yum! Thanks for sharing!