Pull Apart Lemon Coffee Cake
The title says “cake” but I really feel that “bread” better describes what this is. Sweet yeasty dough cut and slathered with butter and lemon infused sugar is baked and then spread with lemon cream cheese icing. Once its iced you can just peel the slices off, no need to cut (who has time to find a knife anyways??)
When I think coffee cake I think dense, moist, and sweet.. this is more soft, lemony, and sweet-ish. Bread is a better description.
However, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, its not going to be around for long after you make it. This one was pulled to pieces and disappeared in a flash at our brunch on Sunday. Nobody cared what category of baked good it fell under
I found the recipe at 17 and Baking and I knew that I *had* to make it for brunch. I changed the recipe slightly because I wanted to be able to make the dough the night before and then just assemble the loaf and bake it the morning of the brunch.
The dough is a bit sticky so having a stand mixer helps form it without getting it all over your hands. I know that stickiness makes everyone want to add extra flour, but resist the urge! A higher moisture content (which causes the stickiness) makes a softer, more flavorful loaf. Too much flour= dry bread.
It also helps to have a ruler as a guide for cutting the strips of dough before stacking them and cutting again. It early (and thus dark) when I was rolling out the dough so I’ve hidden my ugly picture of cutting the dough here if you want to see an example.
After about 20 minutes of baking I tented my loaf with some tinfoil to prevent the top from turning too dark before the rest of it had finished baking. After around 40 minutes I pulled it out of the oven and tipped it onto a cooling rack.
Even the end pieces are delicious, the lemon sugar caramelizes on them and makes a sweet crunchy shell.
I can’t wait to try it with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Pull Apart Lemon Coffee Cake (Bread)
Sweet Yeast Dough
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (You might not use all of this)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup 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
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Zest of three lemons
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the dough:
1. In the microwave heat the butter and the milk together until the butter melts. Set aside to cool slightly. While it is cooling Mix two cups of the flour with the yeast and the sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Then add the water to the milk mixture and stir in the vanilla extract
2. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixer and stir until combined. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the eggs one at a time, mixing each egg until it is combined. Add another 1/2 of the flour and the salt and mix till combined.
3. Sprinkle the dough with 2 tbsp of flour and knead it with the dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky but should become soft and smooth from the kneading. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Make Ahead Tip: If you want to make the dough the night before you bake it just gently deflate the dough after its first rise, place back in the bowl and cover it with plastic. Stick it in the fridge overnight (it will continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. Plus you get added flavor in the bread from the benefit of a slow, cold rise) The next day take the dough out and bring it to room temperature before proceeding with the next steps. I like to cover my dough with a damp piece of paper towel and stick it in my oven at the lowest temperature until it is room temp.
4. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. It will draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or spray it will baking spray
6. Forming the loaf: Deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. This part is a lot easier with a ruler on hand! Use a pastry brush to thickly coat the dough with the melted butter
7. Use a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or a sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″ (it might not be this exact size, but try to make the five strips be equal sizes). Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle and gently press the sugar in. 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.
8. 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, 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 until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes.
9.Bake the loaf for 20 minutes and then check to make sure that top isn’t browning too quickly. If it is, just cover the top of the loaf with tinfoil and continue baking. My loaf took a little over 40 minutes to bake completely. When done, transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
10. 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. Spread over the warm bread (you might want to put some plastic wrap or parchment paper under the bread to catch the drips)