Thursday, June 30, 2011

Danger: Layers Ahead

I finally did it.  

I can't even... *sigh*  

Describing what happened last night in my kitchen would be like trying to describe sight to a person who's been blind their whole life.  Words.  I have none.  

Do you like your diet?  Do you?  Do you really?  Because you're about to NOT like your diet, very very much.  This bread is all yeasty, stretchy, crunchy, sugar-laden and perfect.  Like... whoa.  If you can't get into this pillowy, sugary goodness right here, I may not be able to talk to you again.  

Let me go ahead and begin, mmkay?  I made this entire thing sans-mixer.  Do it by hand.  It makes you feel invincible, for real.

This is my dough ball.  Isn't he cute?  I left him in a greased bowl (the bowl from my Kitchenaid worked nicely), covered him and left him to double in size for about an hour.  The dough is going to feel pretty sticky.  Sticky is good.  Resist the urge to flour him up... that'll come later.

Note to self:  don't refer to dough ball as "him" - creepy.

After letting the dough double, I kneaded in the remaining flour and left that little pillow of goodness sitting on my counter under a damp towel to rest a bit.  

I then rolled it in a 12"x 20" rectangle.  Just... get close.  

Next I slathered the dough with browned butter by way of a pastry brush.  Browned butter should be a sin.  

The dough was completely covered with the lemon sugar mixture.  Use it all, kids.  Press it into the dough to reeeeally get it to stick.  

I can't even handle it.

Next,I  sliced it into 6 long strips and stacked it.  After making the stack, I cut it down again into 6 equal rectangles.  It's... so... pretty.  *claws at face*

Left to rise (again... I know) under a damp cloth.  It gets crazy-big.  

Finally I baked until the top was a deep golden brown.  It may seem too dark at first, but if you don't wait the full amount of time, you'll have raw dough inside.  I promise you... it's worth it.  

Alright, I can't take it anymore.  I have to give you this recipe in the hopes that you'll be able to fully understand the magnitude of what this has done.  Forever changing your world and expanding your waistline. Just. Let. It. Happen.  I'm sorry.  You're welcome and I love you.

Lemon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Recipe derived from Joy The Baker

The Dough:

2 3/4 cups flour, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 tspn salt
4 tbsps unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tspn vanilla extract

The Lemon Sugar Filling:

1 cup sugar
zest of 4 lemons
4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted until browned (I love how "enthusiastic" she is while describing this process)

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs; set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the milk and butter together until blended and smooth.  Remove from heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let the mixture cool in the sauce pan until it is between 115-125 degrees on a candy thermometer.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula, careful not to over-mix.  Add the eggs and continue to mix until blended into dough.  The addition of the eggs may seem a bit... soupy at first, but trust me:  keep mixing.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir until you get a sticky dough ball.  Sticky = good.
4. Grease a large bowl (I used the bowl from my mixer) and place the dough inside, flipping it twice to make sure the entire ball is coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and a damp cloth (I used my mixer's rubber lid), and let rise in a warm, dry area for about an hour.
5. While your dough doubles down, combine your sugar and lemon zest on a wooden cutting board.  Using the back of a spoon, rub the sugar into the lemon zest, taking care to use a pastry knife to help scrape that mess together.  It should smell a bit like... well... lemon candy.  Set aside in a small bowl.  Grease/butter down a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan; set that aside too.
6. Deflate the risen dough and knead in the 2 tablespoons of flour.  Roll around under the palm of your hand until you get a smooth, matte ball of dough.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough until it is a 20" x 12" rectangle.  Brush the browned butter over the entire surface, edge to glorious edge.  Completely cover with your lemon sugar, pressing in slightly to ensure the best "stickage".  It's not a word, but it describes how I feel.
7. Using a long sharp knife, slice the dough length-wise into six equal strips.  Stack the strips on top of each other to form one tall strip, then slice the stack into six equal squares.  *the picture above shows the first of the square cuts... my hands were uber sugary and thus didn't make it to my camera*  Layer the dough squares into the loaf pan, squeezing them to fit.  Almost like building a flip book or putting playing card back into a box.  Place the damp kitchen towel over the loaf pan and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.  Get a cold drink while you wait (I suggest wine).
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and put your rack in the center.  Uncover your loaf (it should have gotten twice its size - magic!), and bake for 30-35 minutes.  If the top is just lightly browned, the center may be raw.  Go for a darker, caramelly color for the top to ensure it is cooked all the way through.  You'll love the crunch of the top, so don't be afraid of this.
9. Remove from the oven and let rest for another *gasp* 20-30 minutes.  It'll be blazing hot, so you'll be glad you did.  Run a buttered knife along the sides to help loosen the bread.  Invert onto a clean cutting board, and then invert again onto your platter/cake stand/serving surface.

Of course you'll want to eat it straight away (I can't blame you - I totally gobbled it down the same night), but you can cover it and leave it at room temperature for up to 2 days.

*Filling Variations:  cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom; grapefruit zest; thinly sliced and sugar-dipped apples/pears; nix the sugar and make a garlic butter and add oregano, parsley and black pepper.  Do it up.


  1. holy wow of deliciousness.
    also, where -- WHERE, I SAY, WHERE-- is the video?? :)

  2. Cori is holding it hostage until she can edit it. I'm... nervous.