The Internet for sure has not done any favors for those trying to avoid decadent foods.
Everywhere you look, websites, blogs and Facebook pages are filled with pictures of gourmet meals, amateur baking and whatever your friends are having for dinner, which must always be posted before one bite is taken. I myself am guilty of posting many a lovely plate set in front of me, not only to share the artistry that comes with a nicely prepared meal, but to throw business the way of whoever put forth the effort.
Sometimes a food photo in my Facebook feed will make my scrolling finger stop dead in its tracks. One such photo was posted recently by my friend Mandy. She shared it with another friend of ours. The recipe was for cinnamon pull-apart bread, originally from the blog Joy the Baker, who recently published her first cookbook. This blog is always filled with delicious-looking pastries and desserts.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread turned out to be as tasty and tempting as it looked online. It made for a sweet Mother’s Day treat.
After it had been a few days and visions of cinnamon bread still danced in my head, I figured I should make some. Luckily, Mother's Day was coming up, and what mom wouldn't love a nice warm piece of bread with her coffee as she gets to relax for roughly 30 seconds?
I started the bread at my house. During the rising process, I packed up the bowl and ingredients and went to my parents' house, which is known for its spacious counters. And what Mother's Day wouldn't be complete without Mom passing down some baking tips to her daughter? I learned how to keep a rolling pin from sticking, and that baking is always better with my mom.
After several hours of anticipation and sweet-smelling wafts from the oven, the bread was done. It was flaky, warm, sweet and requires only two fingers and plenty of napkins. Everyone had a nice hunk. I topped mine with some locally grown White House Fruit Farm triple crown fruit preserves, which include strawberries, raspberries and cherries. It was pure heaven. My brother, the cinnamon roll junkie, was lucky there was some left when he showed up. Mom was happy, as it should be, and all was right with the world.
For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (half stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
2 ounces (half stick) unsalted butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar 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 heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two. Activate yeast by whisking it into 3 tablespoons warm water until frothy.
Pour the milk mixture and activated yeast into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add eggs and stir until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The eggs will feel soupy. Add the remaining flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.
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 an hour. The dough can be risen, then refrigerated overnight. If using this method, let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before proceeding.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and pie seasoning. Set aside. Melt half a stick of butter. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest five minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin. The dough should be 12 inches wide and about 20 inches long. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
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 deck of cards. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and sit 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. 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.
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 board or plate. Serve with fruit preserves or icing.
In the interest of full disclosure, I baked another loaf the next day.