I'm here and I'm alive! It's the middle of the summer season here in Ireland (yes, even though it definitely doesn't feel like summer, with all that wind and rain...). Summer season means holidays, which means lots of visitors to this Green Isle, and Kerry is one of the most visited destinations - really no surprise here, with that stunning wild Atlantic coastline, mountains with Carrantouhill and many, many more (not to mention Irish pubs and Guinness!). All that means that hotels, and restaurants within them are busy, crazy busy on times, and that's exactly where I work :) but after coming home, usually all I want to do is just collapse on my couch, which luckily I sometimes get to do. Unfortunately all that means that when I cook/bake (which I'm still doing!) I just simply don't have that much time to take photos, write up posts etc. But I'm trying hard to change that - it's all about that time management! I know I can conquer it! ;)
This lemon loaf is simply delicious, and while I'm not the biggest fan of lemony bakes (they usually taste artificial to me) I really, really like this one! Don't be scared or intimidated by the fact that it is yeast dough, it's really simple and surprisingly quick to make! It reminds me slightly of the cinnamon buns - soft, rich dough, which separates on its own when pulled apart (the chunks are quite big though! ;) ).
This recipe comes from one of my favourite "go to baking books" The Humming Bird Bakery "Home sweet home".
How to make it...
For the sweet dough
- 75 ml lukewarm whole milk
- 60 ml tepid water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoon dried active yeast
- 350 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 55 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 100 g caster sugar
- grated zest of 3 lemons
For the tangy lemon icing (which I didn't make, just simple icing sugar melted with water and some lemon juice)
- 90 g tub soft cheese (such as Philadelphia)
- 40 g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoons whole milk
To make this sweet dough lemon loaf cake, grease a 900 g loaf tin with butter and then lightly dust it with flour. In a small jug, mix together the warm milk, water, salt, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the dried active yeast. Set this aside to ferment for about 30 minutes or until it forms a foam on the surface.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour and remaining sugar and make a well in the centre. Melt the butter in a microwave or put it in a small pan and melt on the stove. When the yeast liquid is ready, add the eggs, vanilla extract and melted butter to the yeast mixture.
Pour the liquids into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix together using a wooden spoon to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and even.
Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover tightly with cling film and allow to prove in a warm place. This should take about 40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
While the dough is proving, make the lemon sugar filling. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the hob and then, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar, lemon zest and melted butter together. Set this aside for later use. Try and keep it somewhere warm so that the butter doesn’t set.
Once the dough has proved, remove it from the bowl. Gently knock the dough back. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 30 x 38 cm. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough length ways into four equal strips.
Using a pastry brush, coat each strip with the lemon sugar filling. Carefully lift the strips and pile them neatly one on top of another, and then cut the pile of strips into six equal square stacks. Carefully lift each stack and place it into the tin, cut side facing up. Place each stack next to one another to fill the length of the tin, packing them together like a sliced loaf.
Wrap the tin in cling film and set it aside for the dough to rise again. This should take approximately 30-40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 170°C and bake the loaf for approximately 30-35 minutes or until it’s an even golden brown. Set the finished sweet dough lemon loaf cake aside to cool slightly.
To make the lemon cream cheese topping, use an electric whisk to mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together just until smooth. Add the lemon juice, zest and milk. Mix well until creamy and smooth.
Once the loaf has cooled slightly, remove it from the tin and top with the lemon topping, scattering over the extra lemon zest to finish. This sweet dough lemon loaf cake is best served warm or at room temperate. It doesn’t keep for long so it’s best eaten on the day of baking.
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