Lemon-Scented Monkey Bread

I’d tucked this recipe away from the Sour Kraut a few weeks ago because it was not only for a yummy-sounding pumpkin bread recipe, but also hinted at a recipe for a lemon pull-apart bread. I’ve had a hankering to make something lemony lately, and finally had my opportunity to do it. Unfortunately, the link in SK’s blog didn’t work, but I tracked down where she’d found it. (Note to self – pursue a future career as a sleuth.)

After reading a bunch of posts on Pinterest - a site I will have to explore further in the future – and finding this one from The Whimsical Cupcake as well as others, I determined all the recipes were the same, and seemed to generate from one blog: 17 and Baking. (Just to be clear – all the recipes really are the same, I just wanted to give credit where it was due, even if I’m the one who led myself on a wild goose chase.)

This is going to be a long post because we’re dealing with yeast here – not my strong suit. Or maybe it just seemed long because it takes a while to make (what with letting the dough rise twice and all). Either way, if you actually make this recipe, you’re in for a well-earned, lemony scented treat. The bread was kind of interesting to make actually, seeing how it all came together and whatnot. It was a PITA, but that’s why you wake up extra early on a Sunday to make it. (yeah, I know.) It tasted like challah with some lemon/sugar/butter. There is a recipe for lemon cream-cheese frosting to accompany it, though I ran out of time to make it. Next time for sure, and there will be a next time.

LEMON-SCENTED MONKEY BREAD – makes one loaf

For the dough:

  • 2+3/4 cups AP flour (not bread flour)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2+1/4 tsp instant yeast (one packet)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 oz unsalted butter (1/4 cup or 1/2 a stick)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temp

For the lemon sugar filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted (I accidentally did 2 Tbsp of this)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

To make the dough, first combine all your dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer – 2 cups of the flour (you’ll add more later), salt, yeast, and sugar.

Either in a saucepan, or the microwave – I chose the latter – heat your milk and butter until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, if using your stove, and add the 1/4 cup water. Let the liquid sit until it cools to warm. (120-130F… my thermometer is busted so I guessed.) Then add in your vanilla extract and stir until combined.

Pour your liquid mixture over the dry ingredients, and use a spatula to stir until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. This gave the dough the consistency of flaky biscuit dough.

Then, put the bowl into the mixer and use the paddle attachment to beat in the eggs one at a time on low speed. Next, add in an additional 1/2 cup of the AP flour. Resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth – about 45 seconds. Add 2 more Tablespoons of flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky – about a minute.

This is where things got hairy for me. Rather than hand-kneading the dough, I popped in my dough hook and let ‘er (the mixer) rip. Even after kneading thoroughly, the dough was still tacky and didn’t pass the windowpane test. I wasn’t trying to be perfect, I just wanted this bread to have a fighting chance. I reiterate, yeast is not my strong suit. I added the remaining 2 Tbsp of flour to help ease it out of its tackiness. In the end, you should end up with smooth and un-sticky dough. I settled for smooth and a lot less sticky.

I then proceeded to rip the dough out of the mixer bowl and, so it wouldn’t stick after the rise, ever-so-lightly patted a bit of flour around the outside to make my life easier later on. The one thing I was unsure about, with this recipe, is that usually when I make dough, I grease the bowl it rises in, and this recipe had no such direction, so for you I am adding one. I recommend you grease the bowl with butter before you place your dough in it to rise.

Anyways – move the dough into the large bowl, where it will have enough room to double in size, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. One trick I use is to place the bowl in the oven along with a saucepan of boiling water. The heat and moisture should speed up the process. Unfortunately, I had some problems with rise time for my dough – they both took a lot longer than expected. (Yes, there are two rises.) I will for sure make this recipe again and get the rise it needs. The bread turned out well, but it could be better, I just know it!

While the dough is rising, mix together your lemon-sugar. No need to melt the butter until the dough has doubled. Just use your fingertips to massage the zest into the sugar, then cover with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

Once the dough has risen, you’re going to gently deflate it with your hand. Before you do that, however, is the time to grease a 9×5″ loaf pan, and melt your butter for the filling. Then, lightly flour a work surface, punch down your dough, and roll it out to 12 x 20.” Make sure you flour the rolling pin too, so the dough doesn’t stick.

Liberally brush the butter evenly over the dough using a pastry brush. Then, using a pizza cutter, slice it into 5 even strips of 12 x 4.” Next step is to use about 1.5 Tbsp of lemon sugar, spread it evenly over the top of one section, then place another section on top of it, until you have a stack of all 5 strips. I ended up having some lemon sugar left over, so I used it as a topping later on.

Take this stack of dough strips, and cut it into 6 more sections – about 4 x 2″ each.  You’ll be transferring these stacks into your greased loaf pan. I found the easiest way to do this was turning the pan on its end and stacking the layers on top of each other – rather than trying to fit them in sideways and keep them from falling over.

Next step is the second rise. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rise for another 30-50 minutes, until the dough has nearly doubled in size. (I left mine for close to an hour and it didn’t really rise much, in case you’re wondering why the pix look similar before and after.) This is the point where I sprinkled my remaining lemon sugar on the top. Then it’s time to bake!

Preheat your oven to 350F, and pop the loaf pan in for about 30-35 minutes. You want the top to be golden brown, but you don’t want it to be raw in the middle. If the top is browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil. Make sure to test the bread with a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. I might have over-baked mine a bit out of paranoia, but it wasn’t too dry in the middle.

Let the bread cool in the pan for a bit. Getting it out was a bit tricky. I ran a knife around it, flipped it upside down onto a plate, and it wouldn’t come out. Turns out all the butter and sugar caramelized at the bottom and it was literally stuck in there. I just went back with my butter knife and wedged it in until I felt the loaf lift from the bottom of the pan. Then I flipped it back onto the plate and tapped the bottom to get it out. Reverse it back onto your cooling rack.

At this point, you can make your frosting by creaming your cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth, then adding in the lemon juice and milk.

Top with the frosting and serve!

I’d say this bread tastes best while it’s still warm, but I also sampled it once it had cooled and it was still pretty tasty. I got good reviews on this, though I know I have to get a better rise for next time. The bread came out a bit dense, but not really in a bad way according to my friends. I had just expected it to be a little fluffier. As for the pull-apart part… with all the sugar and butter binding these layers together, we had to pry with fingernails to get the layers separated, but it was kind of fun. And why dirty up a knife if you don’t have to ;)

As for evilness, I’ll give this bread a rating of 3 – and that’s more because it’ll drive you crazy while making it, though you might be fiending for another slice. Enjoy!

3 comments

  1. this looks so great!!

  2. I have to try this!

  3. What an awesome recipe! You never fail to impress when it comes to delicious baked goods – even if it involves some Carmen Sandiego techniques. Perfect walk through and a great post, as usual!

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