Apple season is finally here! This apple and cinnamon pull-apart bread is the first in a long list of baking recipes that I plan to make (and share) in the next couple of months. I am starting with this one because this bread is featured in a class that I will teach at the school this weekend and wanted to give it one last “test drive” with my family first. It is a HUGE hit!
This sweet, yeasty bread is pure comfort food on a plate. It is soft and tender and it pulls apart easily, which makes it easy to share. It all starts with a simple brioche dough that is then brushed with melted, browned butter and sprinkled with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. To give it more texture, I added diced apples (toasted nuts would be a good addition too), although neither is necessary if you would prefer the simplicity of a cinnamon-sugar loaf. The dough is then cut into squares, which are stacked into a loaf pan to rise again. This might sound complicated, but it is actually pretty simple and assembly takes only a few minutes.
Within minutes, your kitchen will start smelling heavenly; you may find that the most difficult part of baking this is waiting for the bread to come out of the oven. Once it is cooled slightly, this tender, buttery bread is all yours and you can enjoy it immediately with a cup of coffee or some piping hot tea. You can also save it to serve the next day, if you are hosting brunch, or to bring to your office and be the hero of the day! Something tells me, however, that you might not want to share….
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 4 TBSP. butter
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp.ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 TBSP. butter
- 1 small Golden Delicious apple, diced
- --- ---- Caramel sauce for drizzling (if serving it as a simple dessert)
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Place the milk and butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter just melts, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, then add the eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low, beat until the flour mixture is moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes. Scrape the dough down in the bowl to loosen it, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel. Set the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise, for at least an hour and up to two hours.
- While the dough is rising, line a 4½” by 8½” loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 3-inch overhang on the long sides. Butter the parchment and the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small saucepan, melt the butter until brown.
- Punch the dough down, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 12” by 18” rectangle. If the dough is sticking, sprinkle the underside with a bit more flour. Arrange the dough so the long side is in front of you. Brush the cooled melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture.
- Core and cut the apple into ¼” pieces. Place the pieces on a paper towel and press gently with a second paper towel, so some of the moisture is absorbed. Cut the dough crosswise into 6 even strips. Sprinkle 1 strip with some of the apples, gently pressing them into the dough. Top with another strip of dough and more apples; repeat with the remaining strips of dough and apples. Cut the stack into 6 equal portions. Stand the prepared loaf pan on one of its short sides, and arrange the stacks with cut sides facing out (tucking in any fallen apples). Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Bake loaf until deep golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. If the top starts to brown before the bread is ready, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over it to protect it. To make sure the bread is cooked through, insert a cake taster and make sure it comes out dry. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes more.
- If desired, drizzle with some caramel sauce and serve.
Apple and cinnamon pull-apart bread preparation
Apple and cinnamon pull-apart bread ready for the oven!
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