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Pull-Apart Bread, Three Ways

by on October 18, 2012
 
I could extol the virtues of this loaves
If I thought they needed my help
I would sing high praises
From the top of a mountain
And do a one-legged jig
But they need no assistance
 
Call it a version
Of the Cinnamon roll
The Sticky Bun
Chocolate Orange whirls
All deconstructed
No knives needed to slice a loaf
Just eager hands
Pulling off slice after slice after slice of deliciousness
Sometimes, less (talk) is more
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Pull-Apart Bread, inspired by Flo Braker’s Lemon Pull-Apart Bread

This recipe is my own take on Flo Braker’s Lemon Pull-Apart Bread. The dough recipe is enriched, with milk and eggs similar to a brioche recipe, and is my own.
It makes three loaves, even though I divided up the dough in half, because I have different-sized loaf tins: 12″ X 4.5″ and 8″ X 4.5″
Ingredients
2 cups lukewarm (full fat) milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 – 5 cups all purpose flour
1 – 2 teaspoons instant yeast
Fillings
4 tablespoons (brown) butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
Dark brown sugar
Chocolate chips
Orange zest
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Directions
Make the dough

At the onset of mixing my bread dough, I like to make a soft one. I know I’ll incorporate more flour when I do the final knead, prior to baking. This ensures I end up with a soft, light enriched loaf when it makes its way to the table.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, butter, olive oil, sugar and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk to combine the ingredients.

Sprinkle 4 cups of flour all over the top of the liquid, then follow with the yeast. Begin to incorporate the flour, stirring from one corner/side of the bowl and in one direction. Maintain the direction you begin stirring through out the mixing of the dough – this encourages the gluten strands to grow and lengthen, resulting in bread that has good ‘spring’ and texture.

Continue to mix the flour into the dough, gently incorporating it as you expand your zone of mixing, till all the flour is mixed in and you have a ‘shaggy dough’. If you think the dough is too soft, add a bit more flour and continue stirring.

You could finish the process by hand. The dough is ready when there are no more white, flour patches. However, this dough will not look smooth and shiny. It will stick to your hands but worry not. This is the no-knead approach which I sing off time and time again. The ‘sleek’ look will come without sweat and elbow grease. It will come ‘in time, in due course’. And there in, of course lies the beauty of no-knead.

You leave the bread to rise, and rise it will and by the time you give it a second knead, that beauty we read of in bread books, watch on TV, that nice ball of dough that looks like it was made by Jim Lahey will be resident, on your kitchen counter.

Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place (like an unheated oven or microwave) to rest until doubled in size, about an (1) hour. Then refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight – the dough will be much easier to handle once it has rested in the fridge!

I typically go the whole hog of the no-knead route – I mix the batter the night before, let it rise on the counter and then pop it into the fridge before I go to bed for an overnight rest. In the morning, I let the dough rest on the counter for ten minutes – half an hour before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Make the filling

Cinnamon sugar: Combine 1/2  cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest, 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon powder

Chocolate and orange: Combine 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder

‘Sticky’ Pecan: Combine 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon all purpose flour, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons butter

Prepare the bread for baking

Grease and flour three loaf pans. I had 2 sets of loaf pans – 1  large one and 2 smaller ones. The larger one took the cinnamon sugar filling and I split the remaining dough between the other two pans – one sticky pecan and the other, chocolate orange.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough, till it The dough is about 20­inches long, and 12 inches wide. I measured with a ruler just to be precise!

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Its ok if you can’t get the dough to 20 ­inches long, roll it as large as you can. Then spread the melted butter across all of the dough. For each batch of bread, sprinkle the sugar mixture and sprinkle all over the dough.

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Slice the dough vertically, into six equal­sized strips. This part is tricky. The dough wants to slide off and stretches a bit. Have faith, all will be well!

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Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.

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You’ll have six stacks of six squares.

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Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan (like a flip­book, according to High Heels & Grills)

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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.

Bake the bread

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C). Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. Because of the filling, you will need to ensure the bread is cooked right through – allow it take on a  nice, dark, golden brown  – this should ensure that the center is cooked.

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Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a spatula or a table knife round the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and set onto a plate or board. Serve warm with freshly brewed tea or coffee.

The Verdict

Deliciousness unveiled. I love the way you can pull. the slices. apart. No knife needed.

I love the tenderness and sweetness of the bread.

But most of all, I love the fact that my children ate it by the slice.

It freezes really well and it was easy to split into large ‘chunks’ for later!

What next

I plan on making a rainbow filling next time. What on earth do I mean? I’ve decided I will make various versions, and stuff them into one pan!

I’m thinking rose and pistachio (which reminds me of a baklava…..without the dripping syrup), Coffee, orange and cardamom and even savoury versions like cheese, walnuts and jam!

Other version in the food world

Smitten Kitchen’s Cheddar, Beer & Mustard loaf

Bev Cooks Buffalo Chicken loaf

Just a Taste’s Pepperoni Pizza loaf

So what if I’ve joined the bandwagon…..at least I haven’t fallen off.

If you had to dream up the perfect filling recipe, what would it be?

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