Tomorrow will be the first Monday of the school year. Sigh. It’s beginning. But tonight, I had one last hurrah of the summer, a dinner gathering with some of my Midas teammates. I made an Asian-themed dinner, and this pull-apart bread for dessert. I got this recipe from Joy the Baker, and it was amazing. I’m interested in trying more yeast breads, and although they do take more time and work, they’re a lot of fun to make, and so far the results have been amazing! Earlier this summer Shelby and I made Pumpkin Monkey Bread, and we had been deciding between that recipe and a pull-apart bread, so I decided to try a pull-apart bread today.
Yeast breads take much longer to make than quickbreads, mostly because you have to wait a couple hours for the bread to rise. This takes some planning ahead, but the active work time isn’t really all that much. The time it takes for the bread to rise gives you a nice window of time to do other things. Today, I made the bread base, went for a run in Bel Air while it rose, came back and put the bread together, then cleaned up the kitchen and started preparing dinner while it rose for the second time. Side note: I can’t believe I’ve gone through two years at UCLA without wandering into Bel Air before. It’s so close. It wasn’t particularly exciting, since all the houses are behind massive hedges and have high-security gates, but I still feel like it’s something I should experience while I’m here. And now I have, yay! Back to the bread: My guess is that later in the school year if I decide to make yeast breads, the rising time will probably be used for more boring things, like studying. Woohoo. Oh well, at least I’ll have a delicious bread as my consolation prize afterwards!
This bread was incredible. It’s not as dense or sweet as your average bar dessert or a batch of cookies, but it’s so pretty. The cinnamon sugar gives it a nice crunch and the perfect amount of spiced sweetness, and the bread itself is lightly sweetened. It looks very complicated and fancy, which makes it a great dessert for entertaining, but it’s really pretty straightforward. Also, did you know you can brown butter in the microwave? Amazing new trick I learned from the wonderful Internet. Just stick it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong your microwave is. I stuck my 2 ounces in for about three and a half minutes and it was a little burned, so watch out for that. Another note though, for the cinnamon sugar coating, Joy says to go ahead and use the full cup of sugar, even though it seems like a lot, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I probably used about 7/8 cup of sugar, and even that was too much. I tried to put it all on the bread, I really did, but it fell off my slices when I started assembling the bread. I collected the extra and sprinkled it on top of the bread before putting it in the oven, but when I removed it from the pan a lot of it fell off again. So I would suggest cutting down to 3/4 cup of sugar, then all of it will stay on your bread, and there will be less of a mess! The recipe I provide here accounts for that change.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
from Joy the Baker
2 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk (I used fat-free)
1/4 cup water
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, browned
In a large bowl, sift together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and milk until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the water and vanilla. Let stand for about a minute or two, until it is still warm but not piping hot, then add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir into the mixture until it comes together. This will take a while. Once the dough has come together, add in 3/4 cup of flour and stir for about two more minutes. The dough will be sticky. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to sit in a warm place in the kitchen for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Deflate the risen dough and knead the last 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. While the dough rests, brown your butter in the microwave by microwaving for 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong your microwave is. Sift together the sugar and spices for the filling. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 12×20 inches. It doesn’t have to be exact. Use a pastry brush or paper towel to brush the browned butter across the dough, making sure to get all the way to the sides. Sprinkle (or pour) the cinnamon sugar mixture over it, spreading it all the way to the sides.
Slice the dough into 6 equal strips, either way you wish. Then stack the strips on top of each other and cut into 6 squares. You should have 6 stacks of 6 in the end. Place the stacks sideways in the loaf pan, so it should resemble like you’re looking at pages of a book. Cover with the kitchen towel and allow to rest for 35-40 minutes, until doubled in size again.
Once the bread is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 350˚F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until a well-done golden brown. You want to make sure it’s baked all the way through, so allow the outside to get completely golden brown. Remove from the oven once baked and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Once cooled, remove from pan. Mine slid right out, but you may have to loosen by running a knife around the edge. Serve warm. Enjoy!