There are a lot of recipes or food ideas that I have book marked because I have wanted to explore them further. Unfortunately, my list of bookmarks grows inversely proportional to the number of recipes/ ideas that I manage to take off that list! As I mentioned somewhere earlier, I don’t make New Year resolutions for 2 reasons.
The first reason being that I don’t think one needs the New Year to make resolutions because if they are worth making and seeing through, than they can be done at any time of the year.
The second reason (And this is probably the real reason if I will admit it to myself) is that I’m sure to break any reason I make on the first day of January, before the month is out!
All that aside, I made a decision (not a resolution, mind you) to try and work my way through that list of bookmarks starting with some bread. I’m always ready to bake bread and if I come across something new or different (not necessarily difficult) I make a note of it. So I set myself a goal to definitely bake one bread off my list every month.
Then it also struck me that it might be fun to bake bread in company, even though virtual, so I asked my friends if they would like to join me. I must say I was quite surprised at the response! And this marks the beginning of a bread baking series of baking a bread a month, together, as a group of food bloggers.
I put together the group of all the food bloggers who said they wanted to bake along, and sent everyone the recipe. If we are a group then we ought to have a name since we were going to baking together throughout 2103. I came up with “We Knead To Bake” which I thought sounded right.
The first bread I picked to bake was a Pull-Apart Bread Loaf. I believe I was searching the net for something else, not even bread, when I came across a stacked Pull-Apart bread somewhat like this and this. More than anything else, it was the rustic look of the bread, and the thought that I could make a bread that came apart in “slices” without cutting it that I found attractive.
A whole lot of the Pull-Aparts I saw were sweet and involved a lot of butter and eggs. While I have nothing against eggs (well not too many of them at one go) I thought baking egg-free might be nice since I know many of those who are baking this bread don’t eat eggs. Also given that December was all about sweet stuff I decided to make my Pull-Apart Bread savoury and filled it with mixed herbs, grated Cheddar cheese, crushed cumin seeds and black pepper.
My personal experience with this bread is all good. It looks great and is really quite easy to make. Best of all, its soft and so good that it will have disappeared within an hour of baking/ serving it! This is a very versatile dough/ bread in that you can play around with the filling, and even make a sweet version. If you would like to go with a sweet filling, just omit the garlic in the dough and add 1/4 cup sugar to the dough while kneading.
If you don’t have a loaf tin, you can make this as small rolls with the slices of dough stacked in a muffin cups or maybe in a bundt pan or even a cake tin. Or make them as traditionally shaped cinnamon bun style rolls. Whichever way you shape them, this bread is worth baking. If you don’t believe me, ask all those who bake along with me.
Herb Cheese Pull-Apart Bread
We Knead To Bake #1 : Herb & Cheese Pull-Apart Bread Loaf
For the Dough:
- 1/2 cup milk warm
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsps active dry yeast
- 2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 25 gm butter , soft at room temperature
- 3/4 to 1 tsps garlic paste
- 3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
For the Filling:
- 15 to 20 gm butter melted
- 1 tsp cumin seeds crushed
- to taste pepper red chilli Crushed / flakes
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
- As almost always, I used my food processor but you may knead the dough by hand.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up.
- Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in the food processor bowl (or a large bowl) and pulse a couple of times to mix. Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
- Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12u2019 by 12u201d. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the herbs, pepper/ chilli flakes and the cumin seeds and then the grated cheese. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesnu2019t fall off when you are stacking the strips (#1).
- Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips u2013 they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips (#2)
- You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
- Grease and lightly flour a 9u201d by 4u201d (or 5u201d) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin (#3).
- Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf (#4).
- Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown. This recipe bakes one 9u201d by 5u201d loaf (#5).