There are few things more satisfying than a warm, soft, homemade loaf of bread. This particular bread, though; oh my gosh, it blew me out of the water. My sister and I made this last week when her flight was cancelled and she got snowed in, giving us an extra day to hang out together. I looked outside in the morning, and couldn’t see a thing – it was a complete white out from my window, and that meant a day working from home and a baking project were in order. We searched online for something fun to make, and came across this recipe from King Arthur Flour. We set to work baking this bread, ate it alongside our salmon and asparagus for dinner, and felt pretty darn proud of ourselves for our snow day accomplishments. The bread is beyond incredible when warm, straight from the oven – it’s buttery, soft, and filled with the savory flavors of rosemary, basil and garlic. It’s truly bread-heaven.
The recipe for this actually makes two loaves, but I only have one loaf pan, so we went ahead and squished all the dough into one pan. No regrets there – it took a little longer to bake, but worked perfectly well. I baked a second version later in the week to share with coworkers, and that time formed it into a ring in a cake pan. Both were delicious and visually stunning. This bread would be the perfect centerpiece for dinner. Luckily, even if you’re not a bread-baker, this is a pretty easy recipe to accomplish. Just make sure you use fresh yeast and allow plenty of time for rising. Overall time to make this is about 4 hours, but really only 30 minutes of that time is hands on.
First off, you’ll heat together some butter and milk. Mix in a little sugar and salt, and then throw it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle on your yeast, and give it a minute or two for the yeast to dissolve and start working its magic. Yeast is happiest in warm, but not hot liquid – so just make sure your heated butter and milk aren’t too hot. It should feel just warm to the touch. Once you have all the liquid mixed, start adding your flour. The recipe calls for 4 to 4 and 1/4 cups of flour. Start with 4 cups, and add the extra 1/4 if your dough still needs help coming together. Mine always needed the extra 1/4, and the dough still felt quick sticky, but rose just fine and rolled out beautifully with a little extra flour on the rolling pin and rolling surface. The key, I found, was to really make sure to give your dough time to rise. About 90 minutes for the first rise was enough for me, but my apartment tends to stay at a balmy 75-80 degrees at all times (the one bonus of not being able to control your heat is also not paying for it). If your kitchen is on the colder side, you’ll probably need some extra time. When my dough was done, it looked like this:
It should be light and airy, and slightly deflate when you touch it. After the first rise, the next step is to roll out the dough and cut it into circles. Pull out a circle cookie cutter to help you do this. Don’t have one? Me neither. Use a mason jar lid instead! Works like a charm, and makes you feel incredibly trendy too.
Once you have the circles cut out, you’ll spread each one with the herbed butter mixture, fold it in half and layer it in your pan of choice. Then, let it rise for another 90 minutes. See, told you! Lots of hands-off time, perfect for snow days. Oh, and by the way, because we don’t like waste, use the scraps from the circle cut-outs to make the most adorable little scrap muffins. I balled up the leftover dough into 8 muffins, slathered it with a little extra butter and just popped them in greased muffin tins. They’re just as tasty as the regular bread, and seriously cute all on their own! I love the craggy shapes they form.
The bread freezes beautifully (especially those little muffins – just pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and you have the most delicious warm, buttery side for your dinner), but seriously you might not have enough leftovers to freeze any – it’s incredibly additive, and so easy to just keep pulling off one more slice!
Give this bread recipe a try – I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is pull off a show-stopping loaf, and how incredible it is to have homemade bread on your dinner table.
Rosemary Pull-Apart Bread
Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes hands-on
Yield: 2 loaves, or 1 large ring
Recipe from: King Arthur Flour’s Butterflake Herb Loaf
1 cup milk (I used skim – whatever you have on hand will be fine)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons or 1 packet instant or active dry yeast (I used instant)
4 to 4 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
If your eggs are cold, pop them in a bowl with some warm water to let them come to room temperature while you ready the rest of the ingredients. In a large microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, combine the milk and butter. Microwave in 20-30 second increments until the butter is melted, stirring in between. Whisk in the sugar and salt and pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let the mixture cool a little until it’s lukewarm. Add the yeast, and let it dissolve for a few minutes until you see some bubbles.
Next, add the eggs, and turn the mixture on low. With the mixer on low, add 4 cups of flour. The dough should start to come together into a ball, but will probably still be sticky. Add the extra 1/4 cup flour if the dough is having trouble coming together.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in, cover and let rise for at least 90 minutes. It will look puffy, but may not fully double in size.
Set out your butter to let it come to room temperature, and when the dough is nearly ready, mix together all the spices and butter in a small bowl. Set aside while you roll the dough out.
Lightly flour your preferred work surface for rolling the dough. I found a silicone baking mat worked perfectly. Press the risen dough lightly to deflate it and divide in half. Roll out half the dough so that it is about 1/4 thick, and roughly the size of the mat, if using (or about a 12″ circle). Cut 3 1/2″ to 4″ wide circles – I used a mason jar lid.
Grease a loaf pan or circle cake pan. Spread a layer of the butter mixture on each dough circle, fold in half so the buttered side is turned in and place into prepared pan. Repeat with second half of the dough. Divide up the scraps and butter them, piling them into the greased wells of a muffin tin.
Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 90 minutes, until it’s puffy and starting to fill the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F towards the end of the 90 minutes.
Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes. Check the scrap muffins around 15 minutes. They should be golden brown on the top when done.
Remove the bread from the oven, and sprinkle with additional chopped rosemary and sea salt. You can brush it with a little bit of leftover butter to make these toppings stick better, and increase the decadence a bit more – as if that’s needed.
I found the best way to get the loaves out of the pan was to flip it like a cake – put a cooling rack over top, flip it out of the pan, then flip a second time back onto a plate or cutting board for serving. Wrap any leftovers and store at room temperature for a couple days, or freeze to keep the bread for longer.