I may be the biggest fan of lemon curd. By itself or in a dessert, I will lick my spoon clean if it has lemon curd. So if I have an idea to make a dessert featuring lemon curd, you know I will be jumping on that opportunity. With an excess amount of cream cheese and lemons, I was able to create a beautiful beautiful braided lemon bread. This bread uses the Japanese tangzhong method, just like my sun-dried tomato pesto swirl bread. Incredibly delicious and beautiful, this bread will have you swooning.
Braided Lemon Bread
- 3 tablespoon water
- 3 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Braided lemon bread
- ⅔ cup milk 100-110 degrees F
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¼ cup butter softened
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Cream cheese filling
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Make the tangzhong. Combine 3 tablespoon water with 3 tablespoon milk and 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour in a medium pot over low heat. Whisk the mixture constantly until it resembles a thick paste. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Combine ⅔ cup warm milk with ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
- Combine the yeast mixture with 2 eggs, ¼ cup softened butter, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and the tangzhong in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt and mix until a dough forms. Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface and incorporate the remaining ¼ cup dough a little at a time until the dough is smooth. You may not need the full ¼ cup. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Whisk together 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Prepare the cream cheese filling. Beat together 4 ounces cream cheese with ¼ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup sugar, 2 teaspoon lemon juice, and ¼ cup all-purpose flour. Set aside.
- Punch down the dough. Dust a clean work counter with flour and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll it into a 14x16 inch rectangle. Use a bench scraper and divide the dough into three sections, making sure to not actually cut the dough. Spread the cream cheese filling in the center of the dough, followed by the lemon curd. Leave a 1-inch border around the filling.
- Using a sharp knife, cut 1-inch wide strips diagonally on each of the outside sections. Make sure you have the same number of strips on each side. Start with the left side and lay the top strip across the filling diagonally. Cross over the strip with a strip on the right side. Repeat until all of the strips are crisscrossed one another in the center. Lightly cover the bread with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Brush the bread with the egg-water mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Bring ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to a boil over medium heat. Cool the lemon syrup and brush on the bread.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Let’s dive right in, shall we? To make the braided lemon bread, first, make the roux. We are going to follow the Japanese tangzhong method to yield the best bread possible. To do so, you are going to cook a little bit of water and milk with flour to create a paste. This paste will then be added to the rest of the dough.
Activate the yeast with a bit of warm milk and then add the remaining ingredients including the cooled tangzhong. Knead the dough until smooth and let it proof until doubled in size. If you are kneading the dough with a stand mixer, it may seem sticky. I like to take the dough out of the machine once it's formed and knead it by hand, incorporating the remaining ¼ cup flour a little at a time. This way, you avoid adding too much flour.
While the bread is rising, make the fillings. Make sure to cool the lemon curd completely before filling the bread. You can also make the curd the day before to save some time.
Punch down the dough and roll it into a 14x16 inch rectangle. Braiding the bread looks complicated but it’s actually quite simple. You want to first divide the bread into three sections, only marking the bread into thirds (do not cut it into three pieces!). Fill the center with the cream cheese filling and the lemon curd. It may seem like a lot of filling but the bread rises quite a bit in the oven so you want a good amount of filling in there.
At each of the long sides, you want to make diagonal lines about 1 inch apart. Make sure you have the same number of lines on each side. Crisscross those lines across the center of the bread, first the left side than the right, back to the left and so on.
It looks impressive even before you bake it!
Proof the bread once more and brush it with an egg wash right before baking.
For the finishing touch, brush on the lemon syrup for the beautiful shine.
This braided lemon bread is the ultimate spring dessert. With that creamy center and lemony curd, it's a bread perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert. Excuse me while I help myself to another slice...
For more sweet bread inspiration check out this raspberry lychee rose babka!