Prep 2 hrs
Cook 35 mins
One of Flo Baker's best recipes from her book Baking for All Occasions. As described by 17 and baking's blog mistress: "I don’t think it’s really a coffee cake, but somehow “loaf” and “bread” don’t convey the message either. Here’s what this is: thin layers of sweet bread, sprinkled with aromatic lemon sugar, baked in a loaf pan. The bread is fluffy, sweet, soft, and saturated with citrus. You’re able to peel off a layer, no knifes or messy rips needed. If it couldn’t get better, a tangy cream cheese icing gets spread over the cooling cake, melting into the ridges, cooling into a sweet, sticky mess. It’s incredible."
For the sweet yeast dough
- about 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (12 1/4 ounces)
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (2 1/4 teaspoon) envelope instant yeast
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄3 cup whole milk
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the lemon paste pie filling
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
For the tangy cream cheese icing
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Make the Sweet Yeast Dough.
- Mix two cups (nine ounces) 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 the heat, add the water and let rest a minute until just warm (120 to 130°F). 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 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons 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 with. 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. It’ll 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 (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
- Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. (I suggest using a ruler and getting this as accurate as possible, for a prettier loaf that will fit better in the pan. I also suggest making sure both sides are floured, so that the dough will be easy to lift up later.) Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. 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″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar. (I suggest carefully sprinkling the sugar and pressing it in lightly to keep it from falling off.).
- Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan (I would like the pan with parchment paper for easier removal), cut edges 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 to 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 to 35 minutes. (To avoid a doughy middle even though the top may be 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. The internal temperature should be about 190 °F) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.
- The recipe recommends you tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I suggest carefully running a knife around it. Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack, then flip onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm cake with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks. (You might want to put a pan or piece of wax paper under to catch any drips.) Best if served the first day.
- SOME TIPS:
- Read the recipe all the way through so that you understand all the steps before starting. The construction phase is a bit more complicated than a simple monkey bread or even a simple cinnamon roll.
- Make sure you have really fresh yeast, otherwise you may have trouble. The recipe does not contain a proofing period before adding all the other ingredients.
- Draw a diagram of the cutting in order to have it make sense. You may want to draw a rectangle with the cutting in order to see the dimensions more clearly. The resulting smaller rectangles (4-by-2 inches) are delicate, especially with the filling. A suggestion is to turned the loaf pan on its side (short side down) and stacked gently.
- The recipe asks you to remove the cake/bread when it is golden. This does not necessarily mean that the inside has completed cooking. The minimum internal temperature for breads is 185°F but 190°F for this bread would be better. (The maximum would be around 199°F to 200°F.).