I think I may be slightly maniacal. When I find something I really like — a blouse, a skirt, a pair of shorts, a classic white t-shirt, a pair of earrings, a baking pan, a pen, a bag — I usually buy it it duplicate. You know, just in case I never find something as nice again.
I find myself doing the same with food too. Sometimes. OK, quite often.
See this loaf of bread?
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I made a cinnamon pull-apart bread and I just fell in love with it. The softness of the bread and the fact that it's so easy to eat ... I just loved everything about it. I loved it so much I decided to experiment a little with the filling: replacing with the cinnamon and sugar with some kind of savoury filling. Cheese? Oh yeah! Sun dried tomato puree? So tempting. The wheels in my head were spinning.
The timing was perfect really.
The theme for this month's Don't Call Me Chef column was "food to take on a road trip" and I thought, "Wouldn't this loaf be PERFECT for a road trip?"
It's tasty, easy to munch and good enough for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. No crumbs to mess up my car, Charlie. No need for cutlery even. Just a tissue. I love it when a plan comes together.
I decided on my filling: roasted garlic, cheese and parsley.
Now a pull-apart bread is exactly that: a loaf of bread that you pull apart. You don't slice it with a knife, you pull it apart with your fingers. You slice the bread BEFORE you bake it. What? Yes!
Here's how. (For the full recipe read the article in Don't Call Me Chef today — I am away in Sri Lanka and may not be able to put the link up for you in time but you can just go to kuali.com and look for our column. Sorry!)
Step One: Make the dough: mix 2 cups of all purpose flour, 21/4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 cup sugar together till incorporated.
Step Two: heat 60g butter with 1/3 cup milk on low heat till butter is melted. Take off the heat and add 1/4 cup water. Let it cool a little till the temperature is about 110C (still warm but cool enough for you to be able to stick a finger and leave it in for 10 seconds without scalding yourself).
Step Three: Beat two eggs together.
Add the tepid milk into the flour mix and stir with a fork. Add the eggs and an additional 3/4 cups flour and stir till a sticky dough forms.
Step Four: Transfer to a well oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about one hour.
Step Five: Melt another 60g butter. Set aside.
Step Six: Roast your garlic (Cut off the heads of two head of garlic, rub in some olive oil and bake at 180C for 40 mins or so). Let cool and press out the roasted bulbs that will resemble paste.
Step Seven: Once risen, gently deflate the dough with your fingers and transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into an oblong. (My oblong looks more like the map of ... Sri Lanka!). I should be about 1/5 cm thick.
Step Eight: Generously brush the melted butter all over the surface of the rolled-out dough. Now, rub the roasted garlic on the dough. Sprinkle the cheese all over and the parsley too.
Now for the interesting bit.
Step Nine: Cut the dough vertically into six strips (about 3 cm wide). Stack them up and cut them into squares.
Step Ten: Arrange the squares in a loaf pan (see pic below) and drizzle the remaining melted butter over the to-be-cooked loaf. Cover and leave it to rise for about 35 mins
Step Eleven: Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 30-35 mins.
That's all folks. Your bread is ready to go with you wherever you want. Hungry? Try pulling apart the slices by just lightly tugging at the seams.