Tuesday, April 6, 2010

ABC - Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake

It's that time of the month again; first Tuesday of April to be exact, and that means it's time for the ABC of the Month. As some of you might know, in this new monthly baking group that I started with my friend Wafae, we bake a few recipes from Flo Braker's book Baking for all Occasions. This month's recipe, Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake, was chosen by yours truly. I'm slightly fearful of yeast dough and decided to pick this recipe to confront my fear head on. You start by making a sweet yeast dough made with a little bit of sugar, butter, milk and eggs; very brioche-like. Then you roll it out and brush it with melted butter. Before stacking strips of dough on top of one another, you sprinkle each layer generously with a paste-like mixture of sugar and citrus zest. After it comes out of the oven, you brush it liberally with a tangy cream cheese icing. The end result is a delicious, soft, tender, not overly sweet, coffee cake with a wonderful citrus aroma and flavor. The cream cheese icing with that splash of lemon juice, couldn't have complemented this coffee cake better.

While making this coffee cake, I took a lot of pictures to document each step. So I'll let the pictures do "the talking" :o) The pictures were taken right after I made the dough in the KA mixer and put it in an oiled bowl to rise for 1 hour.

Make the citrus paste by combining sugar and citrus zest. Set aside for the sugar to absorb the citrus oils.

Roll out the dough into a 20"x12" rectangle, brush it with melted butter, and mark the dough at 4" intervals on both sides.

Using a pizza cutter, follow the markings and cut the dough into 5 equal strips.

Sprinkle each layer with 1.5 Tbsp of the sugar/citrus mixture, and gently spread it out with your fingers.

The dough is very soft, so use a floured cake lifter to help you move the dough strips on top of one another. Do this step carefully because the dough stretches very easily (I found out the hard way when I lifted the first strip using my hands only... let's just say I had a little "mozzarella cheese moment").

Score the dough into 6 equal parts, then use dental floss to cut the dough. I used a serrated knife, as directed, but that didn't work too well. Slide the dental floss underneath the dough and stop sliding when the floss is at the right spot on both sides of your dough.

Pull the ends of the floss up, cross them, then pull until you cut through the dough. This makes a very clean cut. I use this method when I make cinnamon rolls too.

Arrange all 6 sections into a buttered/oiled 9"x5" loaf pan, cut side up. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven.

After 45 minutes, it looks like this. Since the oven is preheated already, it can go right in.

After about 30 minutes in my convection oven, I had a delicious golden colored coffee cake.

After a 15 minute cooling period, while still warm, brush the top with the cream cheese icing.

You can either "peel" the layers or cut the coffee cake diagonally. Either way, it's both fun and delicious to eat. Bon appetit!

Final thoughts/tips:
  • Hubby and I absolutely loved this bread. The citrus flavor and the soft texture of this coffee cake are wonderful. Hubby gave it a 9 out of 10. I was pretty happy with that score, given my fear of yeast doughs and my ever-present urge to add more flour :o)
  • After the dough was done mixing, I got a little worried (no, VERY worried, I went back and re-read the ingredients list 3 more times) because it really looked more like batter. I had the immediate urge to add more flour. LOTS of flour. Do NOT do this. It is important that you ignore that urge or you'll end up with layers of "brick-like" citrus sandwiches :o) After the dough rises, it becomes much more manageable. Trust me!
  • Make sure you flour your work surface well when you roll it out otherwise it will stick, making it hard to lift the dough strips. The dough remains fairly soft which is by design.
  • Use dental floss to cut through the several layers of dough. It makes for a very clean cut. I use it for cinnamon rolls too.
  • Variation on this recipe (for next time): use cinnamon sugar instead of the citrus/sugar and you'll have Cinnamon Pull-Apart Coffee Cake. It's like a flat and layered cinnamon roll :o)
  • If this post has inspired you to try this recipe for yourself, even if you don't have a yeast phobia to overcome :o), you can find the recipe in the book, or online, as posted by Flo Braker herself, right HERE.
  • Don't forget to check out the ABC blog roll which consists of Wafae only at the moment.
  • Feel free to join in if you have the book or have easy access to the book. Hope to see you here next month. Until then, happy baking!


  1. How cute! Sounds delicious! I am definately bookmarking this one!

  2. Hanaa...
    I have this recipe for a while in my cookbook in order to try it.. and now that I see your tips, and feedback, I'm totally going to dig my hands into making something with dough (Deadly afraid of that, unless its pizza and pasta!).

    Plus, lemon, bread, and cream cheese.. HELLO!

  3. @Cristine: thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you bookmarked this. If you like lemon, you will LOVE this recipe :o)

    @Monica: I'm glad my tips are helpful to you. Make this one. You won't be sorry. And you'll feel great about making a successful sweet yeast dough. One tiny step towards overcoming that fear of yeast (at least for me, anyway) :o)

  4. Hanaâ, I love the pattern the pull apart layering gives this bread. It sounds delicous; you had me at the sugar and lemon zest!

  5. This looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine making something like this but you make it look easy!

  6. How beautiful! I bet this one was a lot of fun to do!

    If you'd like to tackle yeast doughs, I recommend the Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. It has everything you need to learn the science and methodology of making yeast doughs. I was an absolute yeast phobe before I started baking from this book, and now I truly enjoy making yeast dough. I won't even buy bread any more.!

  7. Great job on the cake. It looks so good. Interesting that a cake use yeast, usually it's bread and pastries.

  8. Hi Hanaa, thanks for stopping by and asking how I liked this cake: we loved it at my house! Yours turned out perfect. I'm happy you had a good experience with yeast bread. I think yeast breads are fun to make, but don't get around to them as often as I'd like.

    I had seen this on The Kitchn a while back; they had made the dough the night before and refrigerated it after the first rise, so that's what I did and I think the dough was a little firmer as a result (plus it was less work in the morning). I also want to try this with cinnamon!

  9. I can't wait to make this!!! Wonderful looking.

  10. I have been looking forward to making this cake ever since I saw it on the Kitchn. Yours looks so good and I appreciate all of your step by step photos! I know I'm going to love this one as soon as I get some motivation to finally make it :)

  11. @Lois: Thanks. I love lemon too!

    @Vicki: It wasn't as hard as thought it would be (after I got over the wet dough consistency).

    @Leslie: thanks for the tip. I've been thinking about taking a closer look at that book. Right now, I'm looking at Ciril Hitz' "Baking Artisan Breads".

    @Jenn: it really is more like a sweet bread/brioche, than a cake. But since it's normally eaten with a cup of tea or coffee, it's considered a coffee cake.

    @Margot: I'm glad you had a good experience with this one too and that everybody liked it. My friend, Wafae, also refrigerated the dough overnight and found it easy to handle when cold. Will try that next time.

    @Virginia: try it! You won't regret it! It's wonderful.

    @Tracey: I'm hoping my pictures give you another push towards making it. It really is tasty!

  12. Nice one! Wish I had easy access to the book (ahum the easiest way is buying it.. sigh.. wishlist!)

  13. I can rely on Flo Braker to devise very sophisticated methods and amazing results and I am totally impressed by your dedication to the task at hand! This is no easy bread-cake here and you did an outstanding job!

  14. I love lemon.
    It is my second favorite after chocolate (for cakes). I am definitely going to try this one of these days!

  15. Hi Hanaa, this brioche-like bread looks and probably tastes great, maybe i will try to make this some time! Although i might have a problem with finding enough counterspace to roll out the dough :-(


  16. This cake is absolutely fabulous! I love the shape of your coffee cake and your beautiful step-by-step pictures. Must try this.

  17. I will definitley be making this one Hanna! It look so good and I love your step by step photos! I think you should think about entering this one in the fair!

  18. This looks soooo much fun! NO I MUST RESIST!!! haha...nope that won't happen...guess I have to make this cake...I'm thinking raspberry filling would be yum:)...will have to try soon:)

  19. Wow, Hanaa, this recipe looks super tasty! It also looks like one that requires no distractions, yes? I can just imagine how it pulled apart and how it smelled. Yummmm! Beautiful bread.

  20. I thought I left a comment here but; it seems that I didn't. I apologize..
    I think that you did a great job with stacking the dough strips in the pan, they looked perfect; and above all, tasted very good.
    thumb up on this one!
    good pick too!:)


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