Couple of days back, I joined a baking group called ‘We Knead to Bake' which was started by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. She has decided to make one bread a month for the whole of 2013 to end up with twelve different breads in a year. She had sent out a message on face book asking friends and fellow bloggers if we would like to join her on this journey. Who could resist baking breads? And that, one different bread a month. I wrote to her right away asking permission to join and as a result this Herb And Cheese Pull Apart Bread is our first bread together.
This bread is really soft and the fillings used could be endless. I used mixed herbs and cheese, but lot of other bakers in this group used pesto and other savory fillings. I sure have loads of idea to try this bread again in the future. December being the month of sweets, I am so glad that Aparna chose a savory bread for this month.
If you wish to make this as sweet bread, omit the salt and garlic in the dough and use sugar. Also use cinnamon sugar as a filling.
Preparation time – 15 mins plus 3-4 hrs for resting the dough
Cooking time – 30-40 mins
Difficulty level – medium
Ingredients to make Herb And Cheese Pull Apart Bread – Makes one 9 X 4 inch loaf
For the dough –
- All Purpose flour – 2 ¾ – 3 cups
- Milk (warm) – ½ cup
- Active dry yeast – 1 sachet (2 tsp)
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Butter (softened) – 2 Tbsp
- Garlic powder – 1 tsp (substitute with 1 tsp of garlic paste)
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Milk – ¾ cup plus couple of tbsp to brush the top of the bread)
For the filling –
- Melted butter – 1 ½ tbsp
- Provencal or mixed herbs – 2 tsp
- Crushed black pepper and cumin – 1 tsp
- Crushed red chili flakes – 1 tsp (optional)
- Grated cheese - ½ cup (I used gruyere cheese, you could add cheddar too)
Procedure to make Herb And Cheese Pull Apart Bread –
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of warm milk and sugar. Leave aside for about 5 mins, until the yeast gets activated and froths up.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 ¾ cup of flour, salt, garlic powder (or paste) and softened butter. With the dough hook on, mix it for couple of minutes.
- Now add the frothed up yeast mixture and the remaining ¾ cup of milk and knead it to form a smooth, soft, elastic dough. Make sure the dough is not sticky. If the dough appears sticky add the remaining ¼ cup of flour in batches until it forms a elastic dough. Do not dump all the remaining flour, just add enough until it forms a soft dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and then place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl, so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for about a hour to 1 ½ until it is doubled in size.
- Dust the work surface lightly with flour and dump the raised dough. Deflate the dough and form a square with it. Now roll it out to form a 12 x 12 square.
- Brush the surface with melted butter and evenly add the herb, cumin, pepper mixture over it. Also spread the cheese over the dough and using a rolling pin, slightly roll on top of the dough, so that the filling sticks better to the dough.
- Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into 6 even strips.
- Lay each strip on top of another with the topping facing up. The strips need not be perfect, just make sure you evenly try to stack them.
- Now with a very sharp knife, cut straight down the stack dividing it into 6 equal squares.
- Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 4 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut side down into the loaf pan.
- Wrap the loaf pan with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rise again for about an hour.
- Lightly brush the top with milk and bake it in a preheated 350 F oven for about 30 – 40 mins, until it is done and the top is golden brown. It took me around 45 mins.
- Let it cool on a wire rack and then start pulling it apart the and eating!