Pipe Dream #45: To Wipe Out Wonderbread – Braided Lemon Bread

I don’t eat bread very often. I usually have enough carbs in my diet (ahem), and plus, have you ever tried making a sandwich? If I go to Jimmy John’s, I’m not paying six dollars for a ham, tomato, lettuce, mayo and bread I could eat at home. I’m paying for someone to take all of those ingredients out of the fridge in single servings and arrange them. Making a good sandwich, like making a good salad, requires a lot of patience and creativity.

Wonderbread is basically horrible nutritionally and flavorfully. Give me something whole grain, with wheatberries in it or something.  I like to chew my bread, not have it dissolve in my mouth like so much angel food cake.

That being said, this lemon bread is not a superfoodwholegrainsubstantial bread. It is made with all purpose flour, and it is filled with lemon curd and cream cheese. Hello. I know I probably sound hypocritical right now. But this bread is part rustic substantial bread and part unhealthy goodness. So it is bad for you, but it won’t melt in your mouth. Man, I’m making this bread sound worse and worse. I should put this on my resume somewhere. Proficient public relations writer: cannot describe anything in an appealing way.

I’ll get lots of call-backs, I’m sure…

Point of the story, this bread is fabulous and decadent and almost wholesome. My family ate the whole thing when it was fresh from the oven. We couldn’t wait.

I apologize for the picture quality/lack of explanatory shots in this post. For a great tutorial on how to braid the loaf (man, I want that on a business card), click on the link in the recipe. SmittenKitchen does such a nice job of it. And also, this recipe includes lemon curd. You can find my recipe here or another recipe on the Ahnternit or buy some from your local grocer.

Braided Lemon Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sponge
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough
Sponge (above)
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
Pearl sugar* or sparkling 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 (recipe below) or prepared lemon curd

Make sponge: 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.

Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. 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 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.

OR

Make dough by hand: Whisk together sour cream, butter, egg, sugar and vanilla in a large, wide bowl. Stir in sponge. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon as best as you can; you may need to get your hands in there to form it into a shaggy ball. Turn ball of dough and any incorporated scraps onto a counter and knead until a smooth, soft dough forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. 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.

OR

Make the filling (while dough rises): 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.

Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper, please; I did not and it led to all sorts of trouble. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.

To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper; if you have a bench scraper, this is a great time to use it. Remove the four corner segments. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hand off decoratively under the end of the braid.

Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.

Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash, and sprinkle with pearl or coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

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4 Responses to “Pipe Dream #45: To Wipe Out Wonderbread – Braided Lemon Bread”


  1. 1 Karen July 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I don’t care how you describe it, your bread looks beautiful and sounds delicious.

  2. 2 webpage December 26, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in
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    You have performed a formidable job and our whole neighborhood might be grateful to you.


  1. 1 How To Proof Yeast « piping dreams Trackback on August 28, 2012 at 9:07 am
  2. 2 Merry Christmas! Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake + Recipe Ideas | piping dreams Trackback on December 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

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