Let me begin by saying that this bread is more than just a pretty face, it is completely delicious. A double-threat, really. It could undoubtedly land a modelling contract for being the most physically-exquisite girl on the block, while also successfully performing triple-pirouettes on my taste-buds.
I make virtually all of my bread from scratch, and can’t really even think of a time in the recent past where I went to the grocery store to buy it. With such infinite variations, how could a person ever get bored? Plus, it’s a really easy way to impress!
This pull-apart bread is great for special occasions as it is far from being modest about its beauty, and it can easily be customized to accommodate any menu. Adjust the type of herb(s) and/or cheese(s) to suit your taste, and you’re in business.
Once you hop on the bread-making bandwagon, you’ll never look back.
Cheese & Herb Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from Petite Kitchenesse
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
1 whole head of roasted garlic (see tip)
3/4 cup fresh herbs (any combination that suits you)
1 cup cheese (I used cheddar, Parmesan, and soft goat cheese)
4 Tbs butter, melted
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. 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 8-10 minutes, until soft and pliable, and it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (this can all be done by hand, if you don’t have a stand mixer at your disposal!).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Roll the dough out into a 12×20 inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, then spread the roasted garlic evenly over the bread and sprinkle the herbs and the cheese all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
5. 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.
6. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and stack the squares on top of each other in the pan. 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.
7. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise 40 minutes.
8. 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.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto a serving platter to serve.
*** Personally, I made my bread into 4 smaller loaves using a mini loaf pan. I started checking its doneness after 20 minutes. Look for a golden-brown top. With most bread, you know it’s finished baking when you knock on its bottom and it sounds hollow inside.
Tip: To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Leave the head of garlic intact, but cut off the top 1/4-1/2″ to expose the cloves. Place the garlic on top of a piece of tinfoil and sprinkle it with a couple of teaspoons of either olive oil or plain water and lightly season it with salt and pepper, if desired. Wrap the head in the tinfoil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until it feels soft when squeezed. Let it cool completely and then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.