I had promised a carbo loaded treat in the midst of sensible healthy food, hadn't I?? As delicious as it was making these 3 treats featured today, no, I did not over indulge on them. One portion of each flavor leaving the rest to my 7 year old and my husband, who were quite happy polishing the the rest.
To get back to the What, why , who etc.. of this project.. It is the brainchild of Aparna Balasubramanian, the author of the blog 'My Diverse Kitchen'. Her fabulous recipes are matched only by her photographs which give meaning to the term 'Food Porn', because they have you salivating over the keys & trying to take a swipe at her gorgeous culinary presentations.
This is a group culinary with a bunch of blogging buddies getting together and giving vent to their individual culinary visions on a single monthly theme. The Theme for January : Herby Cheesy pull apart bread.
Pull apart bread , once you actively start looking for them, seem to come in all forms and the best part is that they have the advantage of baking perfectly thanks to the rudimentary 'pre slicing' (if there indeed exists such a term) of the dough prior to proofing.
When the first attempt succeed beyond expectations ....
(well not exactly, I ended up setting a big bag of All purpose flour in front of me and went to cobble up the dough using rice flour, It made for a good enough photograph, but had to start all over again from scratch after cleaning out the food processor! and when the dough was ready, I realized that my only loaf pan was too small to fit the bread prior to the second proofing), I was obsessed enough to invest in a second loaf pan and make 2 more variations, so here they are all three loaves / rolls, using Aparna's prescribed recipe with flavor variations thrown in! I'm linking this post to Aparna's blog post on the theme as well as to Yeastspotting.
Savory Herb and Cheese Pull apart bread
You need: (for the dough)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 3/4 - 3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2.5 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic paste
3/4 cup milk
For the Filling. (Version 1 - Fresh Rosemary, Aleppo pepper and pepper jack cheese)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
(combine these three ingredients together in a small bowl)
1/2 cup fresh grated Pepper jack cheese
3 tablespoons melted butter
- In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Set aside for about 15-20 minutes till the yeast mixture blooms.
- Combine the flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in the food processor bowl (or a large bowl) and pulse a couple of times to blend. Add the yeast mixture and milk gradually 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 it doubles in volume.
- Deflate the dough, and divide into 2 portions. return one portion back to the oily bowl while you roll out the other into a long rectangle on a floured surface . Brush the melted butter liberally on the surface and sprinkle the Rosemary /Allepo pepper mix. Roll lightly with the rolling pin to ensure that the blend sticks to the dough. Cut into 8 rectangles and stack. Repeat with the remaining dough, using the cheese. ( I chose to alternate the flavorings due to individual preferences within the family, my 7 yr old does not care for the cheese, but loved the rosemary)
6. Fold each rectangle of dough longitudinally, press together lightly and roll it up as shown below.
7. Stack each roll in an alternating sequence in a 9 inch square baking pan that has been buttered and floured.
8. Brush with milk, cover and allow the dough to proof a second time or about 1.5 hours.
9. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the dough for about 35 - 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Allow to cool on a rack and serve fresh with a bowl of your favorite soup!.
Version 2: (Basil Pesto, Sundried tomatoes and Parmesan)
For the Filling
1/4 cup Basil Pesto
1/4 cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Liberal amount of EVOO for brushing.
Use Olive oil instead of butter in the dough.
Since the Parmesan cheese tends to be 'drier' as compared to a softer cheese, make sure that you liberally drilled EVOO when layering the sun dried tomatoes.
Using two medium sized loaf tins stack up the pieces of dough, (8 slices to a loaf pan) and continue with steps 8 & 9.
In retrospect, Irealized that it was not a good idea to sprinkle the excess sundried tomato over the loaf since they tended to char while baking. In fact, if possible, pick out the stray pieces that stubbornly stick to the surface.
The third version I made was a sweet one with a chocolate cinnamon and marmalade filling.
1/2 cup melted marmalade (I used Scotts 3 citrus marmalade)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 tablespoon dutch processed unsweetened cocoa
First, NO GARLIC in the dough. I doubled the amount of butter (to ensure a 'softer' baked texture) and added 1/4 cup extra of sugar with a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the dough. For the layering, the order is 1. Liberal brushing of melted buttter followed by spreading the warm, melted marmalade and then lastly liberally dusting a mix of cinnamon, cocoa and sugar (as per your taste).
Its perfect with a hot cup of coffee!