Thursday, April 26, 2012

Braided Lemon Bread

Braided Lemon Bread
Photo updated December 2013
This braided bread looks sophisticated, and tastes even better.  The slightly sweet bread is filled with cream cheese and lemon curd, and it really brightened up our morning.  Here you can see that I switched up my second loaf with raspberry jam instead.  Both are good, but the lemon is where it's at.

Braid border

The mock braid is easier to assemble than it looks, and I will definitely be making it again.  A dusting of sanding sugar gives it nice crunch and extra sweetness, and that's what I sprinkled on the lemon loaf.  It's not as pretty or dramatic as the white nonpareils here, but it's better taste- and texture-wise.  (Nonpareils will melt in the oven, unlike sanding sugar, so cool the loaf completely, brush with a bit of corn syrup, and then sprinkle.  I still say, go with the sanding sugar.)  Update Dec. 2013: The new photo at the top uses Swedish pearl sugar, which won't melt in the oven.

The dough before and after its first rise.
Like almost all yeast bread recipes, this one takes time.  But it's well worth it.

Lemon Braid Collage 2
The dough rectangle is roughly divided into thirds, and the cream cheese and lemon curd are spread with space left on all sides; a bench scraper is used to cut strips at 1-inch intervals; the top and bottom flaps are tucked in, and then the strips are folded over on alternating sides to form the mock braid.
A bench scraper worked great here, creating straighter edges than a pastry wheel would.  I transferred the braid to a silicone mat, but I recommend assembling and baking on parchment (I didn't have any at the time).  Cutting on a silicone mat can damage it, and moving the braid can make it crooked or mess it up.  For convenience, I used storebought lemon curd.

Braid 3 border

This post was shared with:
Sweet Treats Thursday
Sweets for a Saturday

Braided Lemon Bread
From King Arthur Flour
I like baking by weight measurements.  For volume measurements, click the link above to visit the original site.

6 ounces warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tbs instant yeast
2 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

All of the sponge
6 ounces plain or vanilla yogurt
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
3½ ounces sugar
2 tsp salt
2  tsp vanilla extract
21¼ ounces all-purpose flour
egg wash for brushing braid
pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling on braid

5 ounces cream cheese, softened
1¾ ounces sugar
2 ounces sour cream
2  tsp fresh lemon juice
1 ounce King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 ounces prepared lemon curd

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 vanilla. Add almost all the flour, reserving a half-cup, 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.

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.

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 three equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1 inch free on all sides of the filling.

To form the mock braid, cut 1-inch 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

Preheat the oven to 375°. 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.


  1. WOW!! It's so jaw-droppingly awesome :D. And thank you thank you thank you for the step by step clicks. Definitely bookmarking it.
    You have really done an outstanding job here!

    1. Aw, thanks! I think photos sometimes help demystify the process. It's actually pretty easy.

  2. this looks delicious! braided breads are so pretty and these flavors sound amazing!

  3. Wow! I will make some lemon curd and maybe someday I'll make this braided bread too :)

    1. Cool! I considered making lemon curd from scratch, but even I have a limit to how long I want to spend in the kitchen. :)

  4. AMAAAAAAZING!!! Shirley, I'm so impressed by this beautiful bread. I know I won't be able to make this for another a couple of years (unless you help me! Heehee) but I did enjoy reading the process and oh I wish I can have a piece!!! ^_^

    1. Hey, if you ever hit the East Coast... ;) I've seen what you can cook, so I know you can make this bread! This really wasn't hard at all.

  5. This is one absolutely beautiful looking bread!! I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks too. I will have to try it!!

  6. Gorgeous! I don't think I could ever make this in my own kitchen and have it look as good. :) I love lemon curd and this would be the perfect way to use it!

    BTW, I made your Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches for dinner tonight. They were so good! I can't wait to make them again once we have eggplant & tomatoes from the garden. :D

    1. Sure you could! You just go left, right, left, right when folding down the strips. Or heck, even right, left. :)

      Cool! I do a happy dance (at least in my head) when somebody actually makes a recipe instead of just ogling it. :) It'll taste even better with your garden eggplant and tomatoes!

  7. Beautifully done!!! I made something similar last week but the icing covered up the braiding...yours is exquisite!!!

    1. Thank you! Icing sounds like a really nice touch too.

  8. Love the lemon bread, it looks gorgeous!!

  9. I am going to add you to our Mouth Water Mondays post. Come and check it out next Monday at

  10. I am going to add you to our Mouth Watering Mondays post. Come and check it out next Monday at Cheers, Tara

  11. This bread looks wonderful. Love the mock braiding! It looks so delicious I could totally go for a slice.


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