Lemon Braided Bread

First, I apologize for the lack of post yesterday. Cliff and I went to Washington DC and New York City for a long weekend and I was having too much fun and eating too much great food that I didn’t get my posts written! Hopefully I can get our DC/NY photos edited and posted soon. I will say though that the 2 days we spent in DC included a trip to the candy store, a bakery, a cupcake store and a gelato store! Luckily for my thighs we walked for hours and hours each day, so if anything I probably lost weight, right? Thanks to our friends Amanda and Kyle for showing us around DC and taking us to so many great places to eat!


As Kelly mentioned it is lemon week here. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors.  I love the taste, but I REALLY love the smell! I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen ages ago and I knew right away that I wanted to make it. The only thing holding me back was the difficulty level. I assumed that anything that looked this beautiful must be complicated. The more baking I do the more confident I am. I’m not going to say this was easy though. There are a lot of steps and a lot of waiting, but overall it looks harder to make then it really is. If you like lemon I definitely recommend making this.

Here’s what you’ll need

Add the water

Add the flour

Add the yeast

Add the sugar
Set the sponge aside for 10-15 minutes
Add the sponge to the stand mixer
Add the butter
Add the sour cream
Add the egg
Add the salt
Add the sugar
Add the vanilla
Add the flour
Mix, then set aside for 60-90 minutes
Add cream cheese to a seperate bowl
Add sour cream
Add sugar
Add flour
Add lemon juice; mix
Roll out the dough and divide into thirds
Spread cream cheese to the middle third
Spread lemon curd on top of cream cheese layer
Cut the outer thirds into strips
Fold over each strip, alternating sides
Continue braiding the strips as tightly as you can. This could have been tighter. Let sit for 45 minutes.
Brush with egg wash
Sprinke with sugar
Bake for 25-30 minutes
Let cool for 15 minutes
Believe me, it is worth the wait!

Lemon Braided Bread

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course bread



  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


  • Sponge (above)
  • 6 tbsp  sour cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Sugar for sprinkling on top

Lemon cream cheese filling

  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbspSponge unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup prepared lemon curd



  • In a bowl, combine the water, sugar yeast and flour. Cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes


  • Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.

Make the filling (while dough rises)

  • Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.

Prepare bread

  • Deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure to transfer before you add the filling and braid the bread. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.
  • To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper; if you have a bench scraper, this is a great time to use it. Remove the four corner segments. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy. Sprinkle bread with sugar.
  • Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Let sit another 15 minutes before serving.


These directions are Deb’s from Smitten Kitchen. I followed her directions, except that I divided the dough in half and made 2 loaves. You know me, I like my food in miniature!
Keyword bread