Ever start a cooking or baking project and halfway though asked yourself, is this really worth it? Well, Smitten Kitchen’s Braided Lemon Bread is indeed worth it, but before you start, take a good hard look at your schedule, because this sort of time commitment is the precise reason I can’t recall the last time I baked bread.
With two and a half hours of rising time, it’s not that you’ll be slaving away in the kitchen the whole time. You just have to plan ahead. Unless you enjoy waking at 3a.m. to begin working on breakfast, I suggest starting the day before, as I did. I did everything except the baking, and stored it on the baking tray, wrapped in plastic, all night in the fridge.
The great thing about bread is that you probably have most of the ingredients already. Granted, I was in my mother’s kitchen, (she is a stockpiler, I’m in the “as needed” group), so I had a lot to work with, but I bought a grand total of three ingredients for this bread: yeast, eggs and lemon curd. The recipe includes instructions on how to make this yourself, but let’s face it, that just crosses the line from baking to Martha-land and I wasn’t up for that. The only thing I didn’t use was the pearl sugar – I just didn’t want to go to a specialty store to get it.
You know those “pastries” filled with vaguely cream cheese-like substance that are the staple of hotel continental breakfasts the world over? This is like that. Except, good. There is cream cheese filling with lemon curd spread on top (next time I would add more of this). You don’t actually have to braid; the effect is created by cutting strips on either side of the dough and criss-crossing them over one another.
It was a hit at our family breakfast, with nary a crumb left. Definitely worth it.