I've been baking a lot lately. Baking comforts me and it is something that warms the kitchen as the weather takes on a bitter chill. It's been quite cold here in Seattle the last few days!
I found this wonderful recipe for Lemon Coffee Cake on one of my favorite blogs. If you haven't discovered, "17 & Baking" then take the time now to read all of Elissa's words. She's in college now and working toward a journalism degree. I feel that she's going to succeed in the tough world of journalism.
I love Elissa's work so much that I once sent her a bunch of baking supplies from my work. (I worked with bloggers at my old company to help build up the brand's name). She was so thankful for the gift that she baked me the most delicious treat.
But back to the recipe at hand! I started making this in the morning and due to the two rises, didn't enjoy the bread until the afternoon. I'm glad I had to wait though as this dish does not last long and if I had finished baking this in the morning, I doubt I would have had any nutrition in my diet that day.
You start by making the sweet yeast dough and gently kneading it into a ball. Then you sit back and let the yeast do its' work.
Next you sprinkle the lemon scented sugar over the rolled dough and cut it into rectangles. This is where the fun comes in.
You stack the rectangle dough pieces on place them in a loaf pan. Don't worry if they don't fit tightly. Once the dough rises (for the second time), they will be snug.
Once the dough has risen for the second time, it will be ready for the oven. Once it is baked and smelling delicious, it is frosted with lemony cream cheese frosting. Eat up quickly! This bread won't last long.
Lemon Stacked Monkey Bread
Makes a 9″x5″ pan
Sweet Yeast Dough
About 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
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
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
1. Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. 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 [49 to 54°C]). Stir in the vanilla extract.
2. Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer on low speed, , add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. 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.
3. 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 [21°C]) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.
4. Next, 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.
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
6. 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 nicer loaf that will fit better in the pan.] Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.
7. Use a pastry 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.
8. Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer the strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. The bread will rise and expand after baking so don’t worry if the dough isn’t snug in the pan. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.
9. Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
10. While the bread is cooling, 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.
11. 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. It is a wise idea to have a pan or a piece of wax paper under the rack to catch any drips.
12. Eat warm or at room temperature.