Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Farewell to Summer with Lemon Blueberry Pull Apart Bread

With work starting up again tomorrow, my summer and Lady of Leisure days have come to an end. This has been one of the more enjoyable summers. I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary with Mr. Incredible, I road tripped, gambled, spent time with my family, and did a whole lot of baking. Although I'm sad to see summer go, I look forward the cold fall season (even though that probably won't be until November in Texas), the holidays, and of course the baking that goes along with celebrating the holidays. So I bid farewell to my summer vacation with a bread full of flavors that remind me of summer...blueberries and lemons.

This bread is a variation on Flo Baker's Lemon Scented Pull Apart Coffee Cake. The name was a bit deceiving because it's not a cake or quick bread, but a yeasted sweet bread. The addition of blueberries complemented the vibrant, tangy lemon zest. Topped off with a sweetened cream cheese frosting, it reminded me of a lemony cinnamon roll in loaf form.

Lemon Blueberry Pull Apart Bread
Adapted from Flo Braker's
Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
Makes a 9″x5″ pan 

Sweet Yeast Dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Blueberry Lemon Sugar Filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make the Sweet Yeast Dough

Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm (120 to 130°F [49 to 54°C]). Stir in the vanilla extract and add beaten eggs.

Pour the milk-egg mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work with. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F [21°C]) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.

Meanwhile, make the lemon sugar filling. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. It’ll draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. Gently place a few blueberries between each layer of dough. It might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking.

Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F [21°C]) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

The recipe recommends you tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I just carefully ran a knife around it. Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack, then flip onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm cake with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks.

For those who don't like blueberries. I just don't understand. But you can omit them.


  1. You're amazing!!!

  2. This is beautiful! And thanks for the step by step pictures. I've never made pull apart bread and seeing these photos made it much more clear!

  3. Loved your LOL posts! And I think I will love this bread. We are headed out of town in a few weeks with a few families, and this will be a wonderful breakfast surprise for everyone. We are still waiting for summer to hit here in San Diego, we've had cold and gray since June. I'm sitting here with a blanket over me as I type... feels like February. Thanks for the summery bread!!

  4. Sara, this is my first pull apart bread as well...and after tasting it, it won't be my last ;)

    Kim, what I wouldn't give for a cold dreary day! It's been nothing but in the 100's this week and next week won't be any different :( I hope the bread brings a little summer your way!

  5. What a wonderful idea! It looks beautiful and I love lemon and blueberry together.

  6. I love it, and want it now! This looks absolutely amazing.

  7. Oh my goodness, this looks amazing. Definitely adding this to my bake-as-soon-as-possible list. I love anything with lemon & blueberries & that icing looks delicious!

  8. oh my woman!
    u cook like there's no tomorrow!
    absolutely fabulous and it looks darnnn delicious that it almost make me lick my monitor!! ALMOST !! hehehe

  9. I think this every time I see you post a recipe...but I believe this may be my favorite yet. Wow.

    I love any food that encourages using your hands. The cream cheese icing and blueberry/lemon combo doesn't hurt, either :)

  10. I made the original lemon-scented bread and loved it! But this variation looks ravishing, the blueberries look like they really pop. -Heather

  11. Oh. My. God. That looks amazing! And I've got a bags and bags of fresh blueberries in my fridge (I knew I picked them for a special recipe!). I really can't wait to try this out - thank you for sharing!

  12. I keep seeing recipes for pull apart bread and am always baffled by instructions that have you fold and do other things. Thus I've never attempted them. These step-by-step pics make SO much more sense. So thanks for posting them!

  13. Oh my gosh, this is awesome! When I read your title I was reminded of monkey bread, my first experience with pull-apart bread. This is so much better, though, with two of my favorite flavors, blueberries and lemons.

    I'm always amazed by the stuff you come up with. Another hit.

    Congrats on your 1st anniversary! :-)

  14. Oh ouah! I landed on your site as it was on my referring links to mine (
    Your pictures look amazing as the recipes you share... I wish I will have time to try each one!

  15. I have now successfully finished this recipe and it looks amazing. Thanks for the great pictures. They really helped. The beginning was a bit confusing but i figured it out on the second try. Thanks

  16. This looks so ridiculously delicious! I love that it's pull-apart bread, too. Fabulous job!

  17. Oh my gosh, this looks gorgeous! What a delicious combo with the lemon and blueberry too... sounds like an amazing breakfast or afternoon treat. Thanks for sharing!

  18. This is baking in my oven right now... OMG!! It smells delish!!! Only I didn't have blueberrys, but did have freshly picked blackberries... hope its just as good!! It looks gorgeous so far!! Love your blog!

    ~ Brandi

  19. Dont use frozen blueberries ;(

  20. I'm a bit confused about how to add the eggs-the beginning seems to say to add the eggs into the milk mixture but later on it says to beat in the eggs one at a time to the flour and yeast mixture. It looks delicious-I want to try it as soon as I figure out what's going on with the eggs.

    1. Hi thank you for catching that! I've made the correction. You'll want to add the beaten egg to the milk mixture then add that mixture to the flour.

  21. I have been looking at this recipe for the last 2 weeks! I am finally making it this morning... the dough is rising! I can't wait to serve it up to my Dad, today is his Bday! Thanks for the photos, ideas and lovely blog.

  22. I have booked marked this and finally made it. My dough did not double or rise much. could it be that I mix the dough and kneaded it by hand.. Since you only stated to use the mixer for 45 seconds, I did not think it was worth to use it. However, other recipes for pull apart bread says to use a dough hooker and mix for 5 minutes. Thanks!
    It is baking in oven so I am sure it will still taste good

    1. Whether you're kneading by hand or with a machine with a dough hook, the important detail to remember is to stop kneading once your dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

  23. This recipe looks amazing! Have you tried making it ahead of time at all? I'd love to make the day before and refrigerate so that I don't have to spend so much time making it in the am! Any suggestions? Thanks! :)


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