Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Bread

This one looks familiar because I made the cinnamon version of this a little while ago.  In deciding what to make for the Mother's Day brunch I was hosting, I wanted something light and fresh to serve with the casserole I was making.  This was perfect.  I made the dough the night before and rolled and assembled it the next morning, which was so easy.  It came out wonderfully, though the top of mine did burn (I should have put foil over the top!) before the middle was cooked through, but lesson learned for next time.  I served it with the glaze on the side to minimize the mess when pulling the sheets off of the loaf.  It was a big hit!

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Bread
Recipe courtesy of Leite's Culinaria


  • About 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 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 water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the lemon filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

For the icing

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • Stir together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. 
  • In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave until melted.  Add the milk & stir to combine.
  • Add the water & vanilla to the milk butter mixture and let stand until just warm, not hot.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture & using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer & fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated.
  • Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, & resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons flour & mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth & slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.
  • Knead gently until smooth & no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness. *I used my stand mixer for the kneading, you could knead by hand on a floured surface.
  • Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap & let the dough rise in a warm place (about 70°F) until doubled in size, about an hour.   *After this rise, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight, then let sit out at room temp for 30 minutes before proceeding on with the recipe.
  • While the dough is rising, make the filling.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar & the lemon & orange zests. Set the sandy-wet mixture nearby.
  • Center a rack in the oven & preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or lightly coat the pan with nonstick spray.
  • Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. 
  • Using a pastry brush spread the melted butter generously over the dough.
  • Sprinkle the zest-sugar mixture the buttered rectangle.
  • Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 x 4 inches.
  • Stack the strips on top of each other.
  • Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 x 2 inches.
  • Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up & side by side.
  • Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap & let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F) until puffy & almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.  Check it around 20 minutes & see if it's browning on top too quickly, add a layer of loose foil on the top if it is, since the top will burn before the middle is cooked through.
  • Transfer to a wire rack & let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, vigorously mix the cream cheese & sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in the milk & lemon juice until the mixture is creamy & smooth.
  • To remove the coffee cake from the pan, run a butter knife around the edges release the cake sides. Invert a wire rack on top of the coffee cake, invert the cake onto the rack &carefully lift off the pan. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up & remove the original rack.
  • Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the warm cake with the icing to glaze it. (I served mine on the side to dip or spread on individual pieces.)
  • Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature.

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