A pretty standard meal around here is pasta, bread, and salad. And not that I get bored, but I do like to mix things up a bit - either by trying new pasta dishes, different salads, or variations on bread. Admittedly, that is probably what I do the least of though - it's just so easy to just grab a baguette from the bakery at the grocery store and heat it up. I have a few recipes that I make when I want to get fancy - like these herbed dinner rolls or Garlic and Herb Ciabatta Bread, but for the most part I go with the old standby.
This cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread has been popping up all over the place, and while I can't wait to try that as well, I was extra excited to try this savory variation. It is layers of soft bread, filled with garlic, herbs, cheese, and then drizzled with melted butter. The combinations of herbs and cheeses are pretty much infinite, so just use what you have on hand. I think for the herbs I used basil, chives, parsley, oregano, and thyme. And for the cheese I used cheddar, gouda, and Parmesan.
This method seems imrpressive, but it is actually really easy. It's a pretty standard yeasted dough, but when it comes time to shape it, it is rolled out into a large rectangle, sprinkled with the filling, then cut into squares and stacked into the loaf pan. You can be as anal or free form as you want, but I preferred measuring my squares to have them be as close in size as possible (I'm a scientist by training - I really can't help the compulsions).
My favorite part of this bread was the crunchy outer pieces mixed with the soft and doughy inside. And of course you can't go wrong with gobs of melted cheese. This was such a fun bread to make, and it would be especially well-suited to serve to company. Served with pasta, grilled steaks, a roasted chicken - it's so versatile and would be a great addition to pretty much any meal.
Cheese & Herb Pull-Apart Bread
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 3 Tbs sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs butter, melted
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup fresh herbs (any combination that suits you)
- 1 cup cheese (I used cheddar, gouda, and Parmesan)
- 4 Tbs butter, melted
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the herbs and garlic, melt the butter, and grate the cheese.
Roll the dough out into a 12x20 inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, then sprinkle the dough with the garlic, herbs, and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the dough into 6 equally sized strips using a pizza cutter or knife. Stack the strips on top of each other and cut into 6 equally-sized squares.
Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan, and stack the squares on top of each other in the pan. I found the best way to do this was to hold the pan on its side and stack them that way. If you lose some of the filling as you stack, just sprinkle it on top once the dough has been stacked. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the top.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the inside is cooked through. If the top browns too quickly, cover the bread with foil.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto a serving platter to serve.
source: adapted from Petite Kitchenesse and Joy the Baker