Braided Lemon Bread

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: two braided loaves

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There's just something about lemon that brings a smile and cheerful laugh in the middle of even the dullest of days. The bright yellow color and zippy taste can't be beat. This bread combines a soft and tender sweet dough with the tangy flavor of lemon, and wraps it all up in a beautiful yet easy-to-shape mock braid.

Braided Lemon Bread

star rating (159) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: two braided loaves
Published: 03/23/2010

Ingredients

Sponge

Dough

  • all of the sponge
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor OR vanilla
  • 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • egg wash for brushing braid
  • pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling on braid

Cream cheese filling

Tips from our bakers

  • Change the filling in this recipe by substituting your favorite jam or preserves for the lemon curd. Raspberry jam, strawberry preserves, and apricot jam are all delicious; feel free to choose your own special favorite, though.

Directions

see this recipe's blog »

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.

1) In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flavoring. Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency.

If you're using a bread machine, combine all the dough ingredients in the pan and set the machine on the dough cycle. Be sure to check the dough as it kneads and adjust the flour or water as needed to achieve a soft, supple consistency. Let the cycle complete itself.

2) If working by hand or stand mixer, 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.

3) While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. 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.

4) Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier. Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.

5) To form the mock braid, cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf

6) Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy

7) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. 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.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice Servings Per Batch: 24 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210 Calories from Fat: 70 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4.5g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 230mg Total Carbohydrate: 31g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 10g Protein: 5g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.

Reviews

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  • star rating 04/27/2015
  • Helen from Arizona
  • Let me begin by saying that I have never rated a recipe before but I've been making this for a few years now and it never disappoints. I discovered it when I learned to make lemon curd and was looking for recipes that used it. It's an extremely forgiving dough and has worked great even when I had to substitute sour cream for the yogurt (if you don't like the taste of yogurt that could work for you). Also it's extremely impressive looking on a brunch table.
  • 04/18/2015
  • Debraj76 from KAF Community
  • Oh oh oh...so wonderful and adaptable! I used apricot jam instead of the lemon curd, since that's what I had on hand. I did post a photo of this on Instagram...it is just so sunny and was a joy to make. The step-by-step instructions on the blog are very helpful! Also freezes well...just slice first! You are very welcome. Good luck and happy baking!

    We're so glad this braided lemon bread brought a ray of sunshine into your kitchen and into your stomach. Freezing is a great idea, we just don't usually have any leftovers that linger for very long! Happy lemon baking! Kye@KAF

  • star rating 04/03/2015
  • Jolene from Anderson Township, Ohio
  • Made this as Easter gifts a couple of years ago, and plan to do so again this weekend. I may try subbing room temp sour cream for the yogurt this time. Has anyone tried this? This makes a really beautiful dough that is easy to work with and it is delicious!
    Yes! This should be a fine substitution. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 04/01/2015
  • member-kmo16481 from KAF Community
  • Made this tonite per the recipe. Used lemon curd from KA. It turned out beautifully and really delicious. I thought it was perfect as is but my husband wanted it a little sweeter so I mixed up a glaze with lemon juice and confectioners sugar and put it on the cooled loaves. Spectacular! This recipe will be made often with a number of the different filling suggestions!
  • star rating 03/30/2015
  • Pamela from Venice, FL
  • Is there a gluten free alternative? Can almond flour be substituted?

    You won't be able to braid with a gluten free dough, but you might try using out Gluten free Stollen recipe and omitting the dried fruit and nuts. I think the dough would complement the lemon filling nicely. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  • 03/30/2015
  • Joanne from Scottsdale, AZ
  • I would double the filling. I made this recipe and was disappointed that it was not as sweet as I expected. I do a lot of baking, especially breads and if I make this again, I would make 4 smaller loaves and double the filling. I did not have llemon curd but used a good raspberry jam. The filling definitely needs to be doubled or tripled. Adding chopped pecans or other nuts would be good also. Next time I will do half the recipe and double or triple the filling until I get it perfected to our tastes and likes.
  • star rating 03/10/2015
  • from
  • star rating 03/04/2015
  • Valerie from MA
  • I have made this recipe twice for my family's Easter brunch, and it was well loved both times!!! I hope to make this an annual tradition, and I think my family would approve!
  • star rating 03/01/2015
  • Terri from Hot Springs, AR
  • Worked great the first time. All my friends loved it. Made it exactly by the recipe.
  • star rating 01/26/2015
  • Muleman from KAF Community
  • I'm new to breadmaking. I've been learning on sourdough, but thought I would try a non-sourdough recipe. This bread braid turned out fantastic. I substituted cherry pie filling for the lemon filling. It browned nicely, but got a little too brown on the bottom. Next time I'll shorten the baking time a tad. I love that it makes two braids, as one can of pie filling is just the right amount for two braids. Thanks King Arthur folks for providing this recipe. It was a hit!
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