Alright boys and girls, feast your eyes on the cutest little bread EVER. It reminds me of a doughy little sea creature! And as if being adorable wasn’t enough, these little guys had to go and be all sorts of crazy delicious too.
I stumbled upon a recipe for pull-apart bread many years ago, and was instantly obsessed. I’ve never been too keen on bread with other ingredients mixed right into the dough. But isolated layers of yumminess sandwiched between slices of bread that I can easily peel away from each other and stuff in my face? Sold! The recipe that I was following back then involved dividing the dough into somewhere between 8–12 pieces, shaping it into discs, and adding the filling between each one. Having so few layers didn’t exactly deliver the tastiness I was hoping for. It was more like eating a big chunk of bread with a hint of something yummy on it. And so, I abandoned the recipe after a few attempts and forgot about pull-apart bread. Then a couple months ago, I stumbled upon this recipe from Joy the Baker. As soon as I saw the first picture, my eyes lit up. How…HOW did she get all those layers?! I immediately scrolled down to discover one big sheet of rolled out dough, topped with filling and then sliced and stacked. Genius. Obsession reinstated.
The great thing about this bread is it’s unbelievably versatile. You can use whatever dough recipe you like, and you can fill it with whatever you like. I chose a basic bread recipe and went with roasted garlic, fresh herbs, and cheese as the filling. I also had a yet-unused mini bread pan that I decided would be perfect for these. (The idea of a bunch of different hands grabbing at a loaf of bread kind of grosses me out. Also, tiny treats are more fun!) If you don’t have a mini bread pan, you can use a muffin tin. Or you can always go with a normal loaf pan. It will be scrumptious, no matter what!
Pull-Apart Bread with Herbs, Cheese, and Roasted Garlic
yield: 1 loaf / 8 mini loaves / 12 muffins
- 3 cups of flour (I used half bread flour and half all-purpose flour)
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 packet of yeast (2¼ tsp.)
- ⅓ cup of sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 bulb of roasted garlic
- ¾ cup of fresh herbs (I used basil, dill, rosemary, parsley, and sage)
- ¾ cup of cheese (I used ½ cup cheddar and ¼ cup parmesan, and a little bit of goat cheese)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted (to brush on dough before adding the filling)
Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes (until foamy). Add butter and salt to the yeast mixture, then sift in flour 1 cup at a time, until dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for 8–10 minutes, until dough is smooth. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap or a damp towel, and set in a warm area for about an hour, or until doubled.
While dough is rising, roast your garlic. Preheat the oven to 400°. Chop the top of the bulb off (just enough to expose all of the cloves). Rub with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until garlic is soft. Remove from the oven and let cool, then squeeze out all of the cloves.
Punch down dough and turn out on a well-floured surface. Knead a few times, and then let it rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime, dice herbs and garlic, grate cheese, and melt the butter. Roll dough out into a large rectangle, somewhere between ¼ and ⅛ of an inch thick. Brush butter over the entire surface of the dough, then cover evenly with the filling.
Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into squares. Use your best judgment for size, depending on the type of pan you are using (my squares were approximately 2″ x 2″, or just high enough to peak over the top of the tin, pre-second rise). Stack slices and place in a greased tin/pan. Cover and let rise for another 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake: mini loaves for 20–25 minutes / muffin tin loaves for 15–18 minutes / 1 full loaf for 30–35 minutes (or until tops begin to turn golden brown). Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for half an hour, then have at ‘em!