For those of you who are yeast-apprehensive, I have to share something with you. I am not terribly yeast-averse; I can roll out pizza dough with confidence. However, I have yet to climb onto the bread-making bandwagon. Now I feel as if I am on the cusp of a cooking breakthrough. The recipe you see below was such a smashing success, yeast bread and all, that I think I may have conquered my indifference. You see, I don't fear yeast; I embrace laziness. There are so many darned good bread options out there these days, commercially available for less money than it would take to bake up your own loaf. Literally. But the amazing scent of sweet yeast bread baking in the morning - in your very own kitchen - is a very, very close second. A photo finish.
My husband had to work a half day on Saturday, and by about 1:45 I knew he needed some sustenance. I packed up some lovely veggie wraps and drove over to his office for a picnic in the deserted office kitchen. I chopped up some fresh veggies, including the French breakfast radishes and the lettuce - two kinds! - from our box this week.
A tasty lunch! This was fuel for ... part 1 of Braided Lemon Bread! Prepare to have your socks knocked off!
This bread looks elaborate but is actually fairly simple. The recipe came from my favorite source, Smitten Kitchen, and I cannot improve upon it, so the link will stand in for an actual recipe on my site. Please, go check out her blog, and lavish her with praise as I have done. And conquer your fear of yeast bread! Come on, join me on the other side...
I started this project yesterday and wrapped it up this morning. Yesterday, I got to use my favorite kitchen tool (more like a kitchen robot) to mix and knead the yeast dough:
Then I let the dough rise for about 90 minutes. Here's the before and after - mine didn't puff up too much, but it was definitely noticeable.
Then, I rolled out the dough and slathered on two filling layers: sweet cream cheese and lemon curd. I used store-bought lemon curd; why not? It's perfectly decadent out of the jar.
Then I followed the very precise instructions on braiding...
And popped the filled and braided bread into the fridge until this morning.
When I woke up to feed my crazy animals at 6:45 this morning, I pulled the bread from the fridge to bring it back to room temperature and complete the second rise. This took about two and a half hours. The bread then baked for 25 minutes, and we were forced to wait an additional 15 excruciating minutes before gobbling up the moist, delicious, sweet-and-tangy lemon bread.
To die for. Go make this!