I think I owe March an apology. It’s always been my least favorite month and I’ve not been shy about that declaring that fact. It falls at the tail end of winter, when we’re all just sun-starved and anxious for spring, and tortures us with it’s cold wind and barren trees. Usually. This year, March has been a dream-nothing but unseasonably warm weather and sun. Even if the temperature plummets tomorrow, I think March has done plenty to disprove its unsavory reputation. So I’m sorry I was always so hateful towards you , March. I’m glad you’re here.
Yesterday, in honor of the early spring, I hosted a brunch for some of my coworkers. It was delicious and boozy and, like always, lasted far into the night. I always always make too much food, but that allows us to sit and nibble for hours on end without getting hungry. I like to use my friends as test subjects so I always use brunches or dinner parties as a forum to try out a bunch of new recipes. There were definitely some keepers this time round.
The top-secret frittata made an appearance, as always. It’s my one exception to my try-something-new rule. Then there were these bacon-corn pancakes, which I made into minipancakes and skewered like tiny kebabs that you could dip in a vat of maple syrup. So, so good. I’ll have to admit that more that a few of them went straight from the griddle and into my face. Then there were these chocolate buttermilk biscuits with brown sugar-cinnamon butter. OMG. So tender and chocolatey and addictive. Thank goodness I have a few left in my freezer for emergencies. There was also a fruit/yogurt parfait station and the requesit roasted potatoes and sausage.
But the stand-out, in my mind at least, was the gooey, citrusy, tender, sweet lemon-sugar pull-apart bread. Like the love child of a sticky bun and a citrus grove, this stuff blew me away. Each tender layer is caked in lemon sugar and butter, which melts and pools into a sticky-wonderful syrup that makes your mouth scream with joy. The edges of the bread are crispy and the middles are soft and sticky. The cream-cheese glaze is just the icing on the cake (pun intended), bringing it all together with a little bit of creamy and a little bit of tangy. The lemon keeps the whole thing from becoming too cloying. If I wasn’t obligated to share with my guests, I would have eaten the whole thing myself. It’s a perfect dish to celebrate a spring that you weren’t expecting to arrive for weeks yet. Thank you March.
Lemon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from Hungry Girl Por Vida. Serves Me and Me alone.
I did use meyer lemons, like this recipe suggests, but you could totally use normal lemons and Im sure you wouldn’t lose a thing! I made the dough the night before and then threw it in the fridge after its first rise and picked it up in the morning. This recipe seems difficult, but it’s not. It’s just a lot of stacking and restacking. The dough is reallyreallyreally sticky, but just keep you hands and surface floured and you’ll be fine! I used my kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook, but you could always do this by hand.
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
2 1/4 t instant yeast (1 envelope)
1/2 t salt
1/3 c whole milk
2 oz (4 T) butter, unsalted
1/4 c water
1 t vanilla
2 eggs, room temp
1 c sugar
the zest of 5-6 meyer lemons
2 oz (4 T) unsalted butter, melted
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
juice of 1 meyer lemon
1/3 c powdered sugar, sifted
- In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt
- In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter just melts, then remove from the heat, add the water and set aside for a minute until the temperature reaches 120-130°F. Add vanilla
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine, using the dough hook attachment
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated
- Add 1/2 c flour and mix until smooth, then add the remaining flour a little bit at a time and knead the dough until it’s smooth (it’ll be very very sticky)
- Put the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size
- Deflate the dough (you can now place it in the fridge over night or continue from here)
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest and rub them together with your fingers until well combined and fragrant
- On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough in to a 12″x20″ rectangle
- Brush the melted butter over the dough and then spread the lemon-sugar over the butter
- Cut the dough vertically into 5 strips, each about 12″x4″, then stack the strips, one on top of the other
- Heat the oven to 350°F and grease a loaf pan
- Slice the stack of dough through the layers into 6 equal sections (each about 2″x4″)
- Place the stacks of dough in the loaf pan, 4″ side down, side-by-side (see picture above)
- Cover in plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until doubled
- Bake ~30 minutes or until golden
- Make the glaze by combing the 3 ingredients and mixing until smooth
- Let the loaf cool about 10 minutes then turn out of the pan (you want to do this when it’s still hot or it will stick!). Glaze while still warm