Soooooo….I made bread from scratch! It was all done by hand without the standmixer or our breadmaker. Although it was somewhat of a stressful experience the first time I tried it, we managed to fix my initial screw ups to make Joy the Baker’s beautiful, tasty Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread. (Thank you, Popo!) The entire process was a bit too long for my liking (it took the entire morning and half of my afternoon), but if you’re a fan of cinnamon rolls and anything cinnamony, it is absolutely worth it. It was so good that I made it with Leo at his place a few days after. I managed to read the instructions correctly that time, and Leo, being a fan of apples and cinnamon, added a couple of apple slices in between the loaf slices and the sides. The result? Buttery, crispy apple surprises. Topped with some ice-cream, we had ourselves a makeshift apple pie.
Obviously, as with most of my baking experiences, there were a few mishaps. It always, always involves my failed attempts at reading the recipe or an incorrect prepping of some sort (e.g. mistaking a teaspoon for tablespoon). I’ll spare you the anxious, stressful details of me realizing, much too late, that I put in too much flour at once and finding myself with some dry, floury bits and pieces of dough refusing to come together. Turns out all I needed was to add more water to it. I don’t know what I’d do without my grandma or mom around. Then there was the unrising dough issue. Anyway, here’s what I learned:
1. Always read and re-read the recipe before mixing all your ingredients.
2. Yeast likes warmth, especially if you’re using really old yeast that’s been sitting the freezer for who knows how long.
3. When it says the dough is sticky, trust me, the dough is sticky. Don’t shove your hands in it.
4. Nothing beats the smell of browned butter and vanilla.
Recipe under the cut.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread
Recipe adapted by Joy the Baker via HungryGirlPorVida
For the Dough:
2 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 (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*3/4 cups all purpose flour to add to dough mixture
*2 tablespoons all purpose flour for kneading
For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (If you have weak cinnamon, I suggest using way more. Way way way more.)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/4 cup), melted until browned
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 the butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two.
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 result will be a very soupy, goopy texture. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.
You can place the dough in a newly greased bowl, but I used the same one I mixed the ingredients in. (Less washing!) Cover with a plastic wrap and/or a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, which can take about 45 mins to 1 hour.
While the dough rises: whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned and set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
After the dough rises it will be the softest thing you’ll ever feeeeel. It was like it was filled with air.
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, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long or as long as it can go. Spread melted butter across all of the dough and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture. If you want to add more cinnamon, go for it. It took more than 2 teaspoon for me to get the cinnamon flavour.
Once the dough is all rolled out, slice the dough vertically into six 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. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rest in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is a very dark golden brown.
Once it’s done baking, remove the pan from the oven and allow the pull apart bread to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Once it’s slightly cool, loosen the bread and invert it unto a clean board. The bottom will be all sticky from the sugar melting (mmmm). Turn the upside down loaf right back up again and….go.