I originally made this for me and Jeremy as a little treat, but we enjoyed it so much I decided to share it here with all of you. Because I wasn’t originally planning on posting it, I don’t have any step-by-step photos for this post, unfortunately. But I DO have a lot of pictures of the final loaf and detailed instructions for each step. This is a sweet yeast loaf with lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and a poppy seed marble. And for a bit more tartness I covered the top with candied lemon slices before serving. The result was a sweet and slightly yeasty lemon loaf with the wonderful little textural crunch of poppy seeds mixed into the moist bread.
I added the poppy seeds right at the end of the kneading process to give it a slightly marbled look. It didn’t turn out quite as marbled as I wanted, so if I were to make it again I’d double the amount of poppy seeds, which I already did in the recipe listed below. If you’re not a fan of poppy seeds, though, feel free to omit them from the recipe. You can even throw in some flax or chia seeds if you’re feeling extra-adventerous!
3/4 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Lukewarm Water
6 Tablespoons Butter, room temperature
2 Tablespoons Milk
1 Tablespoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Begin by making the lemon loaf. Knead together all of the ingredients except the poppy seeds either by hand or with the dough hook of an electric mixer. If you’re using an electric mixer, mix on the second speed setting. Turn off and scrape down the sides of the bowl to help with mixing if necessary. Keep kneading and mixing until the dough for about 7 minutes or until it is relatively smooth and doesn’t stick too much to the sides of the bowl. Add the poppy seeds and give it a few turns or kneads until the seeds have begun to disperse throughout the dough but are nowhere near evenly distributed. We want those thick streaks of poppy seeds!
Place the dough in a slightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature and away from direct sunlight until it’s roughly doubled in size, which can take around an hour if your room is on the chilly side. Do not allow your dough to rise too long or at too high of heat, otherwise it will become filled with air bubbles and collapse.
Remove the dough and set it on a lightly greased and floured surface. Knead the dough for 5 minutes by folding the dough in half towards you, and then gently but firmly rolling it away from you with the flattened palm of your hand (more tips on kneading in the Tips & Tricks tab above). Shape the dough into a rough loaf shape and place in a lightly greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, seam side down. Loosely cover the pan with a sheet of greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it just becomes taller than the pan. This can take up to an hour, but keep an eye on it.
While it is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and begin making the candied lemon slices. Bring the sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the lemon slices and allow to simmer for 35-45 minutes, turning once, until the white pith is slightly translucent. Make sure the syrup is simmering and not at a rapid boil, as this will damage the thin slices and remove more of the lemon flavor. One done, remove the slices from the syrup with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a wire rack with a couple sheets of paper towels underneath to catch any dripping syrup. Reserve the syrup in the pan.
When rising is complete, remove the plastic wrap and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. If you find that the bread is browning too quickly, tent some tin foil over it. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Brush some of the leftover syrup over the top of the loaf and arrange the candied lemon slices on top. Allow to cool completely before serving.