It's not called a pull-apart bread for nothing. Look at it: you can literally pull the pieces apart, negating the need for a knife, a cutting board, a plate. Feel like a slice, just pull one away from the loaf. Feel like another? Pull away. Easy peasy, sleazy Lizzy. What? Nevermind.
I like cinnamon rolls a lot. But I must confess that I made this because I just love the idea of the pull-apart loaf. It's kinda like monkey bread but instead of sweet, sticky buns placed atop each other, the loaf uses sliced squares of yeast dough stacked against each other. I got this recipe from Joy The Baker; go visit her and you will walk away inspired too.
You start by making a simple yeast dough. You don't need a mixer for this dough so keep away the dough hook and take out your spatula or wooden spoon. I used my wooden spoon, my favouritest spoon of all time.
So yeah. The first step to making the dough is whisking/mixing the dry ingredients together: 2 cups flour, 21/4 tsp instant or active dry yeast, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Make sure they're mixed together nicely.
Now, heat 60g butter and 1/3 cup milk: I used butter milk simply because I had some I wanted to use up. Once the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup water. Use low heat, please. Take it off the heat and let it cool just till it becomes tepid (about 110C or hot enough so you can just about stick a finger in and leave it there for 10 seconds without scalding yourself).
While the milk/butter is cooling, beat 2 large eggs lightly and add to it 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Once the milk is at the desired temperature, add it to the dry ingredients and stir to mix. Add the eggs and stir the dough so it comes together. It may seem a little wet but as you stir, it will form a nice, wet and sticky dough. Add a 3/4 cup more flour.
Transfer the sticky dough into a oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and a damp kitchen towel and leave it to rise and double in size, about an hour.
Meanwhile, melt another 60g butter and heat till it browns. Be careful not to burn it though.
Get your filling ready too while waiting: Mix 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp ground nutmeg. Mix together. I reduced the sugar a little simply because my husband swears I'm trying to kill him slowly and sweetly. So I used 3/4 cup sugar. Honestly, I think 1 cup would have been great.
Oh well. The things you do for the people you love.
Once doubled, transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands. Deflate the dough and knead on the board for about 3-5 mins, adding about 2 tbsp flour into the dough.
The result? A lovely, pliable and smooth dough. Beautiful.
Now, using a rolling pin to roll the dough out into an oblong. The length should be around 15 inches and the width, 12 inches.
Brush the melted browned butter all along the surface of the dough. Keep whatever is extra for later. Generously spread the sugar-cinnamon-nutmeg mix on the surface and blend.
Now cut the dough vertically into six even strips. Stack them on top of each other and cut them int six squares, even of course.
Forgive me. I forgot to photograph the cut pieces before I started stacking them in the loaf pan. The ones above are those that were left over. But you get the idea, right?
So, once cut. Arrange them in the pan as I did in the picture below. Pour any remaining butter over the slices.
Let it rise till it doubles, again. This should take about 20-30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Once risen, bake for about 30-35 mins. The top will brown (mine singed a little because of the butter and sugar on top) but don't shorten then time or the middle will be uncooked.
Remove and let cool for abut 15 mins. Loosen the edges with a knife and carefully remove the loaf from the pan.
The bread is best eaten warm. Yummmmmmmy.
Here's the list of ingredients again.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
23/4 cups all purpose flour + 2 tbsp
1/4 cup sugar
21/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg