ETA: I, like a total non-tech, was playing with some blog settings and somehow disabled this post from showing on the front page. I had to re-publish it to get it back on there, and in the process lost the comments from the first effort. I apologize for that – we love getting comments and regret losing even one.
Several weeks ago now, I started seeing post after post for this stuff called pull-apart bread. Rumors had it as being soft and sweet and yummy – plus you could literally pull pieces off the loaf and have an individual serving with no cutting involved. Sounded to us like someone was encouraging folks to play with their food! Which, you know, we’re OK with here at FFA.
So we decided to investigate this pull-apart yeasty goodness and, in doing so, further bring it to you – the people. To spread the word. It had nothing to do with the fact that we love love love yeast breads here, or cinnamon sugar, or orange zest. Nope! It’s all about you. Promise.
Are you excited? You’re going to make bread – from scratch! If you’ve never done this before, no fear. We’ve only done this a handful of times ourselves, so we’re learning, too.
Here we’re adding warmed milk and melted butter to the dry ingredients. The yeast added earlier to the dry ingredients becomes very fragrant. Love that smell. In fact, the whole house smelled of yeast the rest of the day. People, if you love to cook, you’ll know what I mean when I say I wish that could be a air freshener spray. Yes, I know I’d always crave yeast bread, then, but maybe I also like to torture myself in that manner.
The great thing about this bread dough is you don’t have to use your stand mixer to achieve a wonderful, fun bread. This was all mixed by hand. If you’re like me and a tad out of shape, go lift some weights the night before or something, because your arm will be sore. Or maybe that’s just my wimpy self.
Here we’re adding in the egg mixture to the dough. At this point, the recipe said it might seem like these two mixtures will never come together, but just keep stirring till they do. Go on. Stir. Stir more. More stirring! Pause every so often to massage that shoulder if you need to. Ain’t no shame – I did.
If you’re left with this sticky, icky-looking mess when it gets all incorporated, congratulations – you did it right! I know, I know, you made a mess and it was the right thing to do. Will wonders never cease. Curtsy and smile. So whatever you do, don’t add more flour – this is the right stage and where you want your dough to be at this point.
Now you let it sit for a little while, covered, to rise. The recipe said to use a large bowl. So we did. Hey down there, little dough! You’re going to be a-OK. Have a nap.
Hmm, maybe I should have a nap at this point, too. Bonus – a recipe with time for naps!
When you uncover your dough, it will have increased almost double in size – and it still looks like a sticky mistake. Never fear!
Two tablespoons of flour get kneaded into the dough and you finally get this cute little ball. That’s right, you can do it!
Really, if we can do it, you can do it.
You’re going to need a lot of cinnamon sugar for this recipe. We decided to try adding orange zest for a slightly changed-up taste, using the zest from one entire orange. You’ll also need to have your loaf pan prepped and some melted butter on hand. Are you ready to roll out the dough?
Look, we own our snafus here at FFA, and I admit I’m just not the best at rolling out dough. I need more practice. Which means I should make this recipe more. A lot more. See the benefit? This should have rolled out more into a rectangle, but oh well.
After rolling out the dough you brush on the melted butter and then sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar orange mixture. And the original recipe says to use it all. So we did. We made such a mess, I’m telling you. The dough did try to stick to the counter a little, so I had to slide a spatula under each slice we made in order to stack them all atop one another. Sugar kind of fell off. It fell off a lot. We just scooped it and piled it back on as best we could. We figured our reward was the funny-looking piece that resembles a tongue, like the bread was sticking it out at us. We are nothing if not silly at times in this kitchen.
So yes, after you put all that sugar cinnamon orange stuff on the dough, slice it in about 6 slices, as evenly as possible and stack them atop one another. Then cut 5-6 smaller rectangles from those.
You’ll stack the smaller groups of rectangles in your buttered and floured loaf pan. If you have to shove and squeeze the last stack into the pan, no worries. To me it was akin to trying to shove one more group of clothes into my closet. We all have experience with this, so you can shove that dough into the pan – you can. Push!
Ahh! You did it. It’s ready to be baked. Look, there’s that piece that looks like a tongue again.
Now, every other blog I’ve seen this on, the bread comes out in this perfect rectangular loaf. Ours looks like an accordion someone beat up – but that’s OK. It tasted wonderful. I found the more I gazed upon its yeasty beauty, too, the more I liked its quirky shape.
Besides – who cares, right? It’s time to eat!
So go on – tear some off. Mmmm! The outside was crusty and a little crunchy from the caramelized sugar and cinnamon. The inside is incredibly soft. The orange zest was perfect, just enough and not overpowering. If you find yourself reaching for more and you don’t remember doing so, you did something right along the way.
This was actually so easy to make – for a yeast bread. It doesn’t really need that much time to rise compared to some others we’ve tried. This didn’t last very long in my house, but two days later, stored in a plastic zip bag on the counter, it still tasted great. We hope you give this one a try!
Orange Pull-Apart Bread
from Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread by Joy the Baker
Prep Time: About 2 hours (includes time to rise) Cook Time: 30-45 minutes Level: Intermediate-Advanced Amount: 1 loaf
For the Dough:
- 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Filling:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
- zest from one entire orange
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F. (We found ours was ready and at the appropriate temperature almost immediately.)
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together (as it did with us at FFA). Keep stirring. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. That’s just right. (She’s serious over at Joy the Baker – it really is just right.)
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.
Deflate the risen dough (I simply “punched” it gently a couple of times) and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough (Don’t over-knead or the dough might bake up too tough. I only kneaded it about 6-7 times, folding the dough from the bottom toward the center, finally flipping it over and patting it into a ball shape.). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go (Dough tends to want to pull back in on itself when you roll it out – it looks like it tries to shrink back. Just keep rolling.). Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar. Seriously? Just go for it.
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares (I think we at FFA actually had 5 stacks, and it was plenty to shove into the loaf pan.). Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up. Serve warm with coffee or tea.
The source link below the recipe title and above the ingredients list for Joy the Baker? We advise you do click over to see her pictures. She does a great job of demonstrating the steps.