“They will be grateful that you cared enough to make it.” Wise words. Words that inspired me to make this Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread.
Well, that’s not actually why I made this bread. But this was my fortune tonight from my fortune cookie at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We took my in-laws there tonight. It was the first time they had ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant. My mother-in-law was spooked by the roasted ducks hanging in the display behind her. My father-in-law ate half of his fortune because he didn’t know it was inside his fortune cookie.
I came across this pull-apart bread a few weeks ago. I saw it as an Orange Pull-Apart Coffee Cake on my friend Lizzy’s blog. I then saw this version on my friend Joy the Baker’s blog. Joy isn’t really my friend. But I know we would be great friends as we have so much in common. We both love baking. We both love cats. We both like to ride our bikes. Anyway… Lizzy is really my friend. I’ll keep fantasizing about eating cookies in person with Joy one day.
I thought I would make this one Saturday morning before one of the basketball games. I made the dough the night before and left it covered in the refrigerator. It wasn’t as quick to put together as my regular cinnamon bread is. I carefully measured the slices and attempted to stack them neatly while not losing too much of the precious cinnamon sugar; not an easy task. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid that you are putting too much cinnamon sugar on it.
The kids were so excited to help prepare this with me. They love brushing on the butter. They fight over who gets a turn with sprinkling on the cinnamon sugar. It gets a little complicated. I have given up on having perfect looking sweets when I bake with my kids. In my eyes, they are perfect.
You know how dreamy this smells while it is baking. I raved before about the smell of cinnamon with my Gooey Sticky Cinnamon Buns and my Cinnamon Bread. What’s fun about this are the pieces you just pull off and devour. It’s almost impossible to not pull off half the bread after you try the first slices.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Makes: one 9×5x3-inch loaf
source: Joy the Baker/Recipe adapted from HungryGirlPorVida
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
1/3 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
In a large mixing bowl (I used just the bowl of my stand mixer) 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 butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.
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 eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together. Keep stirring. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky and that is the way it should be.
Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9×5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.
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. If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go.
Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar but it really isn’t! The more cinnamon sugar the better! You will thank me for not letting you skimp on that.
Slice the dough vertically into six equal-sized 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 like a flip-book.
Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up. Serve warm with coffee or tea.
This bread is served best the day it’s made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.
I watched Eat Pray Love last night. I had already read the book and was curious how the movie version was. I was smitten by the Italy part! My heart skipped a beat when I saw the character Liz first walk through Rome. I’ve been to Rome many times and I am still amazed when I see images of it. I felt I could relate to her looking for something more in life, as that is where I once was. I once was searching for peace. I was searching for my happiness. I traveled and lived abroad seeking what was missing. What was it that would make me whole?
I wasn’t on a spiritual mission as the author Liz was. I had to giggle when I saw her praying to God for the first time. It made me think about when I pray. I was fascinated watching how the different cultures pray and express their spirituality in the movie. I was more aware of how we express ours when I took my in-laws to church this morning. They don’t speak a word of English, yet they followed along just fine. I watched my mother-in-law’s lips move as she was quietly saying her prayers in Italian while we said ours in English. I thought maybe I should try to translate something for her, and then I thought it wasn’t necessary. Her heart knew just what to do.
As I watched the movie I was reflecting on what I was searching for 12 years ago when I was living in Italy. What was my story? Another favorite part of the movie for me was when Liz was in India and she listened to her friend’s stories. Everyone has a story. My husband teases me because I have a way of getting people to open up and tell me about their lives. I have a sincere and natural curiosity about people and what their story is. For example yesterday, I heard a story I wasn’t expecting.
I had dropped my daughter off at her class and was walking out with the man that assists the theatre company. He explained to me that he met his wife taking an improv class years ago. He was telling me about his two children and I found out his daughter is the same age as mine. As he must be about 60 years old, I wasn’t expecting to hear that. I asked if she also takes drama classes and he explained to me how both his children were born with the same neurological disorder and his daughter just learned how to speak at 9 years old. He wasn’t looking for sympathy and he talked about his two kids with joy and pride. That was part of his story. We ended our conversation there as we reached our cars and said good-bye in the parking lot. If I had been rushing to get to the next place as I usually do, I may not have heard his story.
This will be my last recipe until I feel better. I’m looking forward to having a quick recovery from my surgery and I have some fun guest posts coming up!
Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your constant support. Thank you for listening to my stories.