I’ve had the idea of pull-apart bread in my head for a while, i’ve just been waiting for the right excuse to bake one. I made this one for the half marathon after barbecue. If you can’t eat a huge, bready cheesy, carby feast when you’ve just run 13 miles, then when can you?!
I’ve adapted the dough, and taken the method, from Joy the Baker’s Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread. I was sorely tempted by a sweet cinnamony bread, but ultimately the lure of cheese won.
This is the perfect bread for sharing at a party or family dinner table. The loaf pulls apart in sheets to reveal a soft, tender white bread covered in garlicy butter. Cheese is sandwiched between the layers. More is squeezed out to the edge of the dough as the bread rises, giving the loaf a beautifully cheesy, golden crust.
Its takes a little bit of time to put together, but its actually far easier than it looks and it’s well worth the effort.
The enriched dough is simple to work with, and doesn’t need a great deal of kneading.
Once the dough is risen and rested, we knocked it back down and work it for just a few minutes, until its really soft and smooth.
This is where the fun part starts.
The dough gets rolled and rolled and rolled, as far as it will go.
Then we coat it with lashings of melted butter and gently softened garlic.
Next to go on is the cheese. Lots of cheese. I’ve layered up parmesan and a good strong mature cheddar. You could try using your favourite cheese. i’m thinking mozzarella for next time.
Sprinkle on a few herbs for good measure.
The dough is sliced into six long strips.
Next we take those strips of cheese coated, butter laden bread and we stack them up on top of each other.
This wedge then gets sliced again into six. The squares you’re left with are flipped onto their sides and squeezed into the loaf tin.
It’s a little tricky to get it there. Cheese will fall off. It’s ok, just pick it up and sprinkle it on top. Its all going to add to the cheesy goodness.
The bread goes into the oven for about 40 minutes, until its golden brown and smelling incredible.
Give into your urges to eat it straight from the oven. The cheese will still be melted and gooey between the layers, the butter will be warm and will ooze from the dough in every bite.
Garlic and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread
for the dough
350g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
80ml whole milk
2 large eggs
for the fillings
80g parmesan cheese, grated
80g strong cheddar cheese, grated
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
In a large bowl, whisk together 250g of the flour, yeast and sugar.
In a separate bowl, beat your eggs.
Gently heat your butter and milk together, until the butter is just melted. Take it off the heat and add in the water. Leave to stand for about 2 minutes to cool slightly. Straight from the heat could kill the yeast and prevent your bread from rising.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Pour in the eggs and mix. It will be a very wet feeling dough to begin with, but keep working at it until it all comes together.
Add in the remaining 100g of flour, along with the salt. Once its formed a dough, put it into a greased bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size. In a cold kitchen it took my dough about two hours.
Once your dough has risen, deflate it, and knead with about 2 tablespoons of flour for a few minutes until smooth.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for five minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your garlic butter. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and gently cook for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic is softened. The butter may brown slightly, thats perfectly ok.
On a floured surface, roll your dough out to 20inches x 12 inches. If it won’t quite go that big, just roll it to as long as you can get it.
Using a pastry brush, cover the rolled out dough with the butter. There’s a lot of butter, but just keep loading it on!
Next, sprinkle over your cheese and dried herbs.
Cut the dough vertically into six equal sized strips.
Layer these up on top of one another until you’ve got a tall, long stack of cheese dough slices.
Cut vertically again into six slices. You should be left with six, more or less, even stacked squares.
Grease and flour a 9x5x3 inch loaf tin.
Take your squares of dough. Very carefully using your hands to secure the cheese, flip them onto their side and stack them into the loaf tin. Put a clean tea towel over the tin and leave to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is a deep golden colour and firm to the touch. It may seem like the top is over browning, but its important to keep it in the oven for the middle to be cooked through. That golden brown top will taste delicious!
Rest in the tin for about 15 minutes, then turn and cool on a wire rack, or dive straight into the cheesy layers.
Go on, you know you want to.