This Pull-Apart Lemon-Scented Coffee Cake recipe is simple enough, even for someone who constantly flops at bread like me. And it is also very addictive– have friends over so you can finish it in one go, or you will end up eating it by yourself until you’ve eaten the whole thing.
Sweet Yeast Dough
about 350g (2-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
75g (5 tablespoons) whole milk
55g (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
60g (1/4 cup) water
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Lemon Paste Filling:
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
55g (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Tangy Cream Cheese Icing:
85g (3 oz or 6 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
35g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
15g (1 tablespoon) whole milk
15g (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
Sweet Yeast Dough
In the large bowl of a stand mixer (though you can also do this by hand as I did), stir together 255g (2 cups) of the flour, the sugar, and the yeast. In a small saucepan or microwaveable container, heat the milk with the butter on low heat/power until the butter is just melted. Set aside until warm (about 130°F/55°C or 1 minute), then add the vanilla. Pour this over the flour mixture and using a strong spatula or wooden spoon, stir together until the flour is evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or continue to use the spatula), and mix on low speed while adding the eggs one at a time, just until each is incorporated. Add 65g (1/2 cup) of the remaining flour and mix on low speed until smooth (about 45 seconds). Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix at medium speed until smooth and slightly sticky, about another 45 seconds. If doing this by hand, you might prefer to knead it gently and squeeze the dough till it comes together.
Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and place the dough on top. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with cling film, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes. The indentation of a fingertip on the dough should remain.
Lemon Paste Filling
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and the citrus zests together, rubbing them between your fingers until it resembles wet sand. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and spray a 9×5″ loaf pan with baking spray.
Gently deflate the dough.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll out to a 20×12″ rectangle.
Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips (each about 12×4″).
Sprinkle one of the rectangles with 1-1/2 tablespoon of the zest-sugar filling.
Place a second rectangle of dough on top and sprinkle with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the filling. Repeat using the rest of the dough rectangles, ending with a sprinkling of the filling.
Stack of 5 dough rectangles. Cut the stack crosswise into 6 smaller stacks, each about 4×2″.
Fit the layered strips into the loaf pan, cut edges (the 4″ side) up.Loosely cover with cling film and let it rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30-50 minutes– the indentation of a fingertip should remain.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.
Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the milk and lemon juice until the well-combined.
Unmold the coffee cake (all the butter will allow it to release quite easily) and place on a wire rack or serving platter. Using a pastry brush, coat the top with icing. Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature.