Trying Out A New Recipe: Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bread
Posted on July 12, 2022 Posted by Athena Scalzi 37 Comments
Well, that’s certainly a mouthful, isn’t it? Especially if I add “with cream cheese glaze” at the end. But that’s exactly what I made last night, glaze and all! I can’t quite remember how I found this recipe, but I’m pretty sure it was through Instagram, and I decided to give it a try (as if I don’t have a huge list of recipes on my to-try list already).
This recipe for Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bread comes from Bake From Scratch. And boy oh boy, was this recipe a tough one.
My first issue came in acquiring the ingredients. I had all the basics, flour, sugar, eggs, the usual. What I didn’t have was vanilla paste and freeze dried blueberries. The vanilla paste was easy enough to find, but it was almost twenty dollars for a tiny jar. I know why vanilla is so expensive, but it still pains me to buy. I’ve never used vanilla paste before, or had a recipe that called for it, only vanilla extract, so this was an interesting change.
As for the freeze dried blueberries, I searched four grocery stores for them, and to no avail. I even asked an associate for help, and they told me where to find frozen blueberries. I repeated that I wanted freeze dried, not frozen, but they didn’t know what that was, so they asked someone else, who said they didn’t know what I was talking about, so they asked someone else, who told me where to find dried blueberries. At that point I let it go. It was clear they didn’t have it, so I just ordered a bag on Amazon for eight dollars.
It took a few days to get everything I needed for this dumb bread, but I was finally ready to get cookin’.
The first thing it says to do is mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together, so I did. Then I put the milk and butter in a pot on the stove. The recipe says to heat it to 120 degrees, but I don’t have a thermometer, so I just kind of ball-parked what was warm enough, then poured it into the dry ingredients. Steam came out of the bowl, and I was worried I’d made it too hot and killed my yeast. But I continued on, and added one of the eggs and the vanilla paste.
Then it says to transfer to a bowl once that’s done mixing, and says the dough might be slight sticky. Um, slightly? Y’all, this was the STICKIEST dough I have ever worked with in my life. Trying to move it from the mixing bowl into another bowl was a nightmare. It stuck to everything. If you make this, DO NOT use your hands to try to transfer the dough, you will be wearing the dough as gloves with how sticky it is. It’s unbelievably clingy. Which is why it looks so uneven on the top, instead of a nice, smooth ball of dough.
It said to let it rise, so in the meantime I made the blueberry lemon cream cheese filling.
It didn’t really seem like it’d be enough filling, but I decided to follow the recipe to a T and hope for the best.
At this point, I was convinced I had killed the yeast in the beginning, because this definitely didn’t look like it doubled in size.
It was a little bigger, sure, but I don’t think it really rose to its full potential.
Next it says to divide the dough, but I was terrified to touch it again because of how much of a pain the stickiness had been earlier. However, I found out that letting it rise somehow made it less sticky, and more manageable to work with. So I divided the dough into what I felt was four even portions and shaped them into balls, and covered each one in plastic wrap.
The recipe said each ball should be about 200g, so I decided to see how close to perfect I actually got. The heaviest one was 220g, and the lightest was 190g. I could’ve evened it out more, but I decided that was close enough.
Then I preheated my oven to 370 degrees because I have learned (mostly from y’all telling me) that my oven gets too hot and that’s why I burn everything. So I always just set it five or ten degrees lower and sometimes reduce cook times a little as well.
Next comes the hard part. I took out one ball of dough, and laid it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. I then had to form it into a flat layer to spread the filling on, which was ridiculously difficult. The dough, though significantly less sticky than before, was still really sticky, and kept sticking to everything I tried to use to flatten it out. I ended up using a rubber spatula to just kind of pull the edges further and further out until I had an almost thin circle.
Even harder than that was doing it AGAIN but this time on top of the first layer. I knew the ball of dough would just stick to that layer and not spread out, so I tried to be like a pizza chef and throw the dough in the air into a circle-esque shape before laying it on top of the first layer. That didn’t go too well, as I ended up tearing the center of the circle, so I balled it up and tried again, more gently this time. Eventually, I laid it on top and used the rubber spatula to try to pull the edges as far out as possible again.
I did that again with the next layer, and eventually got this messy stack:
At least the filling ended up being the perfect amount!
And finally, I topped it off with the last ball of dough.
It was a mess, but I didn’t care at this point. I just wanted to get this thing in the oven.
So, I cut it into sixteen “even” pieces with a pizza cutter, and my god did it look horrifying.
Jeez Louise, it was so damn ugly. But I wasn’t ready to give up on it. So I twisted those bad boys until I got this!
You know what? That doesn’t look half bad! And I’ll be darned, it looked even better after it rose again!
Still maybe a little odd, though.
Anyways, I made an egg wash and drenched that thing. I wanted it GOLDEN, baybee.
After putting it in the oven, I was hoping it would just come out edible at this point. I felt like I messed up every step of the way, so I was just praying it wasn’t terrible. 20 minutes later, I took this glorious piece out of the oven.
I couldn’t believe it turned out so well. It’s quite literally the prettiest thing I’ve ever made. I was so obsessed, I took like a dozen photos, and sent it to all my friends in celebration.
And then, here it comes, the cream cheese glaze:
Is it as lightly and carefully drizzled as in the recipe’s photo? No. Is it messy and uneven and imperfect? Yes. And I love it.
It said to let it cool completely, but I couldn’t wait, I tore a piece off and dug right in.
Would I make this again even though it was definitely one of the most difficult things I’ve ever made? Absolutely. Especially for a holiday party since it’s in a snowflake shape! Both my parents tried it and loved it, and I can assure you you will love it too! Though you might not love the process of actually making it.
Do you like the combo of lemon blueberry? Have you made anything from Bake From Scratch before? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
Taste tester report: It was amazing.
I’m not only impressed with your outcome but wishing I had the gumption to make that recipe. Alas, I’m not the cooking type, so I will just have to drool at your photos.
Oh that looks amazing. I’m going to have to try that. I bet you could skip the freeze dried blueberries and just use dried ones instead and get very similar results. I’d also try it with any dried fruit – cranberries, strawberries, etc.
Athena you’re killing me! My doctor has told me to cut way back on the carbs AND THEN YOU POST SOMETHING LIKE THIS?!?
I enjoy lemon and blueberries. They balance well. Honestly I am not much of a baker. I cook but I’m the sort of person who modifies recipes as I go and you can’t do that with baking. (You can sprinkle flour on the parchment paper to help make it workable) One thing to keep in mind is that humidity can affect a recipe. Also the temperature of your hands, the bowl, the counter, altitude… You see why I gave up on baking.
Nevertheless what you made looks great!! If I could still eat gluten, I would be all over it. Excellent job.
When you’re dealing with sticky dough you can coat (and I mean coat) your hands with olive oil to make it easier. If you think it would change the taste of what you’re making you could use beaten egg. You could also dip your knife, spatula, etc in to make things less clingy. It’s still not going to be pretty but it will be … less difficult.
Athena, the difference between “divided into 16 even pieces” and the “twisted before egg wash and baking photos is amazing! Even knowing what the twisted photo looks like, I have a hard time fathoming how you transformed the hot mess that came before into the “looks credible, ready for second rise and the oven” after shot.
Then, the “fresh from the oven” shot? OMG. Utterly transformed.
It’s so nice when such results taste as good as they look! But, yeah, if I were ever to go through a similar experience, I’d save future uses of the recipe for holidays and special occasions. What a lot of work.
Please count me among the blueberry-lemon fans. Not all fruit flavors go together, but those two do.
Wow – that is a seriously GORGEOUS pastry, and lemon+blueberry is one of my favorite combos! Really nice job, Athena, stickiness notwithstanding, and you deserve big props for persisting despite the way the dough behaved for you. I have already copied that recipe off for my files to try when the weather cools off some (I try to avoid using my oven much in July), and thank you very much for sharing!
Erm. Not sure how to phrase this, but dear heart, if your parents haven’t yet seen fit to gift you with a good-quality instant-read thermometer, please send me a note at the email address on this post and I will get you fixed up. You will be astounded – ASTOUNDED, I say – at the difference that makes in all your cooking, whether testing the heat of the milk and butter before adding it to the yeast/flour mixture, testing the doneness of a loaf of bread you’re baking, or making sure you’re not about to serve rare roast chicken to your family.
My spouse initially got an instant-read thermometer years ago for brewing beer (which also has very precise temperature requirements) but I quickly co-opted it and use it to test doneness of pies (180 degrees for pumpkin), cakes (210 degrees), and breads (190 degrees). Plus of course beef (120 degrees for medium-rare prime rib), pork (145 degrees), chicken (165 degrees) and fish (145 degrees).
Seriously, Athena, as much as you love baking and cooking, you are absolutely handicapping yourself by not having such an essential tool.
Sorry for the sermon! Thanks for sharing the recipe, and enjoy the results!
It looks interesting. I’d go with less glaze. I just might have to try this one!
My lord, you went straight from “terrifying Elder God manifestation” to Great British Baking Showstopper! I’m so impressed!
I bought vanilla paste once, and went through it so fast at such a high cost, that I never bought it again. It didn’t seem to me to make that much of a difference.
I made a snowflake bread like that for Xmas once, using a cinnamon and cardamom filling. But I cheated and bought a lump of pizza dough rather than making my own dough. I can’t get bread dough to rise. :( Kudos to you for your success!
Kudos to you for persevering through this process. After reading through this recipe I can see why you struggled. It’s written pretty poorly. And 120 degrees is too high to proof yeast. Most recipes give between 100 and 110. Basically like warm bathwater. That much heat also makes the dough stickier, which is one of the reasons it got less sticky over time.
Can I suggest Claire Saffitz YouTube channel as a great primer for cake and bread baking? Honestly her stuff is clear and easy to follow and will never do you wrong.
Also Vanilla Bean paste and vanilla extract are interchangeable. Paste is just trendy right now.
If you have access to Trader Joe’s, they have freeze-dried blueberries (at least, around here they do). Also strawberries and raspberries.
Gorgeous! I’m glad it turned out so well.
I love your cooking adventures! (Those cookies on Twitter looked pretty good as well)
Seriously good work there, it looks so good!
Some tips to make next time easier:
rich doughs with lots of butter and/or egg take longer to rise so give them plenty of time.
try rolling out sticky doughs between wax/grease proof paper or cling film (?saran wrap?) using a rolling pin. The wax paper will stick less, but you can see what you are doing better through the cling film.
and as Linda McCann Jeffers suggests coating your hands with oil helps in handling sticky dough.
Now you need to start experimenting with different fillings!
Beautiful results, kudos for powering through the sticky steps (literally and figuratively). I agree with Lisa above that the recipe doesn’t seem well written, and also with her recommendation of Claire Saffitz for good explanations of the basics of baking. I’m also a huge fan of Smitten Kitchen, and the blogs and recipes at the King Arthur flour site
All that said, I’ve saved this recipe and will give it a go, suitably altering for my standard way of mixing up a yeast bread. I’m a sucker for these star breads, and have made them in sweet and savory variations, though not one using freeze-dried fruit.
That looks amazing! I’ve seen freeze dried fruit at Target, but I’m not sure if that includes blueberries.
Lemon and blueberry is a fabulous combo and that sounds and looks delicious. Definitely time to start working on your Great British Bakeoff audition tape!
Just be sure and wipe all of Linda’s olive oil off your hands before the inevitable Paul Hollywood Handshake.
Yay, Kerrygold butter: the best butter! It, uh, looked like “Hellraiser” bread before you started twisting it, but then it looked lovey, and it looks great in the final pictures, too!
Blueberry-lemon is a great combination, and now I’m hungry, so thanks for that. ;-)
I don’t bake. Well, I’ve made chocolate chip pumpkin cookies from an old colleague’s recipe, which are like my fave cookies. :-D Hmm, I wonder if it’s too early in the year to make those. . . .
Just using wet hands will help when you’re handling a sticky dough, if you don’t want to get more oil into it. And yes, rich doughs take longer to rise, so be patient; and any dough is honestly happier at 75/85F even if it takes longer. Also, for another really pretty bread that looks like it was infinite work but really isn’t, check out Mrs Bailey’s Party Bread: https://link.medium.com/uXMJCSOCCrb
Agreed that getting a good insta read thermometer is super useful if you keep baking, especially if you start doing big breads. (Also useful if you cook meat.). We have two: a cheap accurate and slow one and more recently DH did a bunch of research to get a more expensive accurate and fast one. Beware if fast inaccurate thermometers.
We’ve found that with a lot of these British recipes that using a recommended US substitute generally works— so crushed garlic instead of garlic paste, vanilla instead of vanilla paste, light corn syrup etc. Google is super helpful for finding substitutes and usually takes us to a serious eats forum post on the topic.
Oh also– we like nuts.com for ingredients. They’re not always as cheap as amazon, but you don’t have to wade through sketchy offerings to find what you want either. (And it’s fun to add on snacks to qualify for free shipping…)
A cinnamon sugar bread in the same format, from the King Arthur catalog, is our winter solstice tradition and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.
I don’t know why, but I LOL’d at “dumb bread” – maybe I need a nap.
The results look mouth-watering. Awesome story and results.
Thank you everyone for your kind comments and tips/suggestions! I appreciate y’all :)
Try the salami and herb stuffed version from the King Arthur website. Yum!
dang… end result looks zillion times better than store bought pastries…
one trick 9YO me came up with to help my mother make consistently thickness flattened dough…
locate a plate whose bottom includes a raised rig… lightly grease (olive oil, butter, margarine, etc) as well cutting board or larger plate… then press chunk of dough under greased plate bottom until it is down-down-down and under edge is keeping the dough from oozing out… lift… carefully peel…
result: a nearly perfectly circular sheet of dough of uniform thickness…
that’s also my secret for making amazingly uniform hamburger patties for either grilling or freezing… though when freezing I’ll drop a blob of hamburger into a cheap/no-frills sandwich sized plastic bag… press down… burp air… foldover bag… stack hamburger patties in freezer…
That result looks lovely and sounds very tasty!
For lots of show-and-tell about how to bake good bread, why some things are necessary and what the effects are of adding or substituting different ingredients, temperatures and rising times, I like to watch ChainBaker’s channel on YouTube.
For such a very sticky (high hydration) dough he demonstrates a specific kneading style that turns a sticky mess into a workable dough in his video on kneading: https://youtu.be/T8FK5apuL40
As you like baking, you might enjoy watching some of his videos.
It looks fantastic!
Get yourself a thermometer. They are cheap and they make such a difference.
This looks amazing.
I don’t bake yeasted breads, so you’re a total Baking Badass in my book.
Should you start to use fresh berries or other acidic fruits in a recipe that calls for baking powder, you’ll want to get some that’s “Aluminium Free” or the acid in the fruit makes the aluminium part turn green. It doesn’t taste bad, but it looks less than appetizing.
Rumford comes in a red can and is aluminium free. I usually have to look for it in the “natural” food aisles rather than the regular baking aisle.
Trader Joe’s baking powder is also aluminium free.
Plus, as noted upthread, they have freeze-dried blueberries.
Looking forward to the next great baking adventure!
A $10 analog oven thermometer will make all your baking so much easier.
I’ll third the need for an instant-read thermometer, they truly become indispensable once you have one. Plus they flick open kind of like a switchblade. “Stand back,” “I’m going to cook with science!” Google “best instant read thermometers” for recommendations.
As they’d say on the British Baking Show, “Well done, you!”
I’ll echo (and comment on) some of the earlier comments:
1.) Wet dough is indeed more easily handled with wet hands. Even water will help a bit. If you want to use oil, I’d suggest something more neutral (and cheaper!) than olive–safflower, peanut, generic vegetable oil, etc. Even (eww…) Crisco rubbed into your hands.
2.) Re wax paper vs. plastic wrap to ease rolling dough out: yes, wax paper comes off more easily, but doesn’t let you see through as well. But a tiny bit of oil (or cooking spray) on plastic wrap before using it as a roll-out aid will let it come off just as easily.
3.) Take it from a septuagenarian J. Kenji Lopez-Alt fanboi (and his “The Food Lab” and “The Wok” cookbooks are both treasures): get–and use–a good instant-read thermometer. The professional-grade “Thermapen” is well worth the $$–it’ll change your life. And while you’re at it, get an oven thermometer (they’re cheap) so you really know what’s going on in there.
And I wish I had some of your pastry! Just looking at it makes my pancreas clench like a fist…
For future reference, you can do your own freeze drying. Spread them out on a sheet tray and put them in a freezer (or even better a deep freeze) uncovered for 2-3 weeks.
Of course, if you desire instant gratification (and who doesn’t?) this won’t work.
And get a good thermometer. The best is the Thermoworks Thermopen, which is what I have, but it is north of $100 these days. Almost as good is the Thermopop from the same company which is a more reasonable $35.
I couldn’t help but pop in and say if you want a really well written and step by step guide for making star bread like this you really can’t go wrong with King Arthur. Since someone has already linked one of their recipes, I’ll drop their cinnamon star bread bakealong here, which has pictures at basically ever step:
Also, oven thermometers are cheap and will make a world of difference for how your bakes come out. Preheating times vary wildly, and most ovens are lying when they say they’re preheated, not to mention that your oven seems to run hot. For half the price of your bag of blueberries you could get yourself a nice simple analog oven thermometer. I’d recommend it.
Congratulations, that looks absolutely beautiful!
I am an excellent cook, but baking is the dark arts as far as I get- just doesn’t seem to work with my skills, so I’m seriously impressed you pulled that off. I love lemon and blueberry, together.
I was teaching some Russian immigrants once, English as a second language, and they yearned for powdered vanilla, that they couldn’t get here. I overheard some in the bus, once, complaining about the bread, “not like in Russia.” Glad you were able to find and try the vanilla paste. I wonder if you could make it yourself?