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Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

By: Deanna Linder

In Plato’s book, The Symposium, the Greek playwright, Aristophanes describes the reason why humans say they found their other half when falling in love. He gives a speech about primates who had double bodies, with faces that turned away from one another. To make a long story short, Zeus, punished these primates by splitting them in half, separating the two bodies. According to Aristophanes, ever since then, people are in search of their other half.

Culinary-speaking, there seems to be a similar phenomenon; ingredients, coming from different sources, which seem to innately go together. Cinnamon and sugar is one these pairings.

One morning I arrive to Danya’s studio and her Google reader is open onto one of our favorite blogs, Joy the Baker. [1] There, staring at us, is a picture of cinnamon sugar pull apart bread. You could literally smell the cinnamon and sugar through the screen. There was no doubt that one of us would have to make this for our blog.

Being the more American of the two (Danya was born in the US), this was definitely my type of recipe. I’ve been dabbling in the delightful pair since childhood, when I developed a recipe for French toast (literally just your basic recipe dipped in equal amounts sugar and cinnamon).

Being more a cook than a baker, when I try out baking recipes I like to stick to what’s written for the first try. The recipe Joy gives is enough for one loaf. I made this the night before our photo shoot, and me and my husband had to be tortured while the smell filled up our little house. Not even a little taste of it, or I would ruin it for the shoot.

Needless to say once this was photographed, it was gone.

Cinnamon and Sugar Pull Apart Bread

Adapted from Joy the B aker [2]:

Ingredients for two 9x5x3-inch bread loafs:

For the dough:

5½ cups + 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

4½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick (4 oz./100 grams) butter

⅔ cup whole milk

½ cup water

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

½ stick (2 oz./50 grams) butter, melted

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together four cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and milk on medium heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add the water and vanilla extract. Let mixture cool for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and continue to stir until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The batter will be quite sticky at this point.
  4. Add the remaining cup and a half of flour and continue to mix with a spatula for an additional 2 minutes, until ingredients are well combined. The dough will still be a little sticky.
  5. Place the dough is a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise, until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
  6. Once the dough has risen, punch the dough and knead the remaining four tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Butter the bread loafs.
  7. Cut the dough into two equal pieces, and place one piece back into a bowl and cover with the towel. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough to 12 inches x20 inches (30 x 50 cm.).
  8. Use a brush to generously spread melted butter across the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Cut the dough vertically into six equal strips. Stack the strips one on top of another and slice the stack into six equal slices. You should have six stacks of six squares.
  9. Place the squares into the prepared bread loafs, so that they are standing up. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  10. Preheat oven to 350ºF. (180ºC). Cover both loaf pans with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The center will be a bit soft. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.