This blog has set some high standards for me when it comes to visitors. No one really believes that most mornings I eat cereal or an organic pop tart. Most of my friends think that I cook complicated meals three times a day, seven days a week. People even apologize when they serve me meals at their houses because what they cook is not "fancy." I don't always cook intricate meals as I mentioned (and I'll be focusing on this more in the future), but when family comes to visit, I do try to whip up something fun and new.
Enter this Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread. When I saw it on Joy the Baker's site, I knew I had to make it, but it's just time consuming enough that I needed a special occasion to make it. My in-laws' visit last weekend was the perfect excuse. :-)
This bread was impressive--beautiful, unique, and delectable. It took time to make, but I made it up to the end of the first rising the night before to save me some time in the morning. I served it hot with coffee and tea. I can't tell you how to store the leftovers as there wasn't a crumb left. Try this today and thank me later!
**Sweet As Sugar Cookies has asked if I'd contribute this post to her Sweets for a Saturday. Go by and see what other sweets are posted!
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
from Joy the Baker
For the Dough:
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons 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 (1/2 stick)
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned (1/2 stick)
In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, whisk together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter is just melted. Remove from the heat and add the water and vanilla. Let the mixture stand for a minute or two until it cools a little. If you have a thermometer, it should read between 115-125 degrees F.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a dough hook (if using a stand mixer) or with a spatula. Add the eggs and mix until the eggs are completely incorporated. This will take a little time. Add the remaining 3/4 cup flour and stir for about 2 minutes with the dough hook or the spatula. The dough will be sticky.
Place the dough in a large lightly-greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place and let rise for about an hour or until the dough doubles.
**After the dough has risen, it can be placed in the refrigerator overnight and used the next day. Just take the bowl out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before the next step.**
While the dough rises, mix the dry filling ingredients (sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Grease and flour a loaf pan. (A 9x13 pan was recommended, but I used a 5x13 European-sized loaf pan, and it worked great.)
Once the dough has risen, deflate it and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 5 minutes. On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it measures about 20 inches by 12 inches. I found the dough to be resilient, so I also held it up with my hands to use a "stretch method" I sometimes use for pizza dough.
Once the dough is rolled out, brush the melted butter over the top with a brush. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter. Using a pizza cutter, cut 6 long strips. Stack them on top of each other (being careful not to lose too much of the sugar!) and then cut into 6 even squares.
Hold the pan up on its end and stack the dough squares carefully in the pan. Mine didn't completely fill the pan, but that's okay. Just spread them out a little (carefully!). Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes until the dough has risen to almost double its size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the loaf pan on the middle rack and let bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bread is deeply golden brown. The deep golden brown will ensure that the bread is cooked in the middle.
Remove the bread for the oven and let rest for a few minutes. (The original recipe suggests 20-30 minutes, but I only waited 5 minutes!) Run a butter knife around the edges and carefully invert the pan over a board. Place the plate, stand or board you'll be using to serve it on over the loaf and invert so that it's right side up.
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