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.
3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
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
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup prepared lemon curd
Sponge: 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.
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.
Dough: 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.
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.
Cream Cheese Filling: 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.
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
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.
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.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees 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.
Hands-on time: 20 to 25 min | Baking time: 25 to 30 min
Total time: 2 hr 55 min to 3 hrs 5 min | Yield: two braided loaves
Tip 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.