Sunday, August 21, 2011

Italian Herb & Cheese Pull-Apart Bread

Even though I do a lot of baking, I don’t really try a lot of bread recipes. I think part of the problem is that with just my husband and I, fresh bread goes stale before we manage to get it eaten. We make plenty of Italian at our house, but I rely far too often on grabbing the 99 cent garlic bread from the store. However, when I saw a recipe for Italian herb & cheese pull-apart bread, I couldn’t resist making it myself.

This recipe seemed pretty simple. In fact, it doesn’t even require a bread maker. (I actually do have a bread maker, but don’t ask how many times I’ve actually gotten it out and used it.) Of course, nothing sounds bad about Italian herbs and cheese. Just the name of the recipe alone makes me want to make up a big batch of pasta and sauce to dip it in. I was also intrigued by the design of the bread. Once rolled out, the dough is cut into squares and stacked in the pan. Once baked, a slice can be torn off easily with your fingers, hence the “pull-apart” in the name.

The recipe comes from the blog Pink Parsley, which I’d recommend checking out. The pictures are mouthwatering and I’ve found other delicious recipes there before.

•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 herbs (I used a dry mix of Italian herbs)
•1 cup cheese (I used an Italian blend of about 5 cheeses)
•4 Tbs butter, melted
•kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Add the first 2 cups of flour, and mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook, and with the mixer on low speed, add the third cup of flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough forms. Knead 6-9 minutes, until soft and pliable, and it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

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.

I love the design of the bread. It is so easy and simple to pull off a slice. I think next time I try it, I will have to use some cheddar or a slightly sharper cheese. I will also have to try the cinnamon and sugar version sometime.

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