Aaaaah cinnamon. So warming and comforting. The secret to many a delicious dish. Wonderous as a whispering background note and fabulous as a strong punch of woody spice. Sometimes only cinnamon will do and that sometimes is pretty often in our house as my lovely other half is a cinnamon addict! He is also the only person I know that likes those foul cinnamon jelly beans... madness!
My addiction to StumbleUpon brought me upon this recipe on Joy's wonderful website and as soon as I saw it I wanted to get that yeast working. Unfortunately this wasn't to be as for perhaps the first time ever I was out of both yeast and butter - what a nightmare! So I was patient and waited for the weekend and it seemed to be a bit fortuitous as it really is the perfect weekend breakfast treat.
I didn't have a tin in the size that Joy suggests, only one either much bigger or a bit smaller. I opted for the smaller and as you can see this resulted in a bit of a squished bread which didn't really matter as it still pulled apart just fine, it just wasn't quite as pretty as it should have been. If you can go for a tin as close to 9x5x3 inches as you can. Lots of sweet things don't look how we'd imagine though do they?
If you're nervous about using yeast you really shouldn't. Try to get the dried active yeast such as this one from Allinsons and pop your required amount into some warm water with a little pinch of sugar - I used three tablespoons of water, two from a recently boiled kettle and one cold. Give it a good stir and set to one side in a warm place until it comes alive - it really does! It'll start bubbling and foaming up and then you're ready to go!
Mega caramelly crust!
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Loaf
Makes one loaf, size dependant on your tin!
2 1/4 teaspoons dried active yeast
60g unsalted butter
80ml / 1/3 cup whole milk
60ml / 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
420g / 3 cups plain flour
60g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large room temperature eggs, lightly whisked
Sugary Buttery Filling Ingredients
225g / 1 cup caster or golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
60g unsalted butter, melted until browned
Re-activate your yeast by mixing it with 2 tbsp recently boiled and 1 tbsp cold water and a pinch of caster sugar, than pop it to one side somewhere warm so it can get working.
Gently heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan until the butter has just melted, then remove from the heat and whisk in the water and vanilla extract. Let sit for a few minutes until it has reached a temperature where it is still warm but you can comfortably leave your finger in for a good 20 seconds.
In a large bowl whisk together 280g / 2 cups of the plain flour, sugar, salt and activated yeast for a few seconds until it starts to come together, then add the milk mixture and give it another stir. Next add the lightly whisked eggs and give it a good mix until its pretty well combined - it'll be a bit soupy at first but it will mix eventually!
Add another 170g of plain flour and mix for another few minutes. You should be left with a sticky dough that you can pop into a big bowl that you've greased lightly with butter or a flavourless oil. Cover the bowl with a layer of cling film and a clean tea towel and pop it somewhere nice and warm to prove for about an hour until it has doubled in size. (Joy says "The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below." although I used mine straight after rising.)
While the dough is proving you can grease your loaf tin and then make the filling by mixing the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a little bowl. Melt your butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat until it has darkened to a light chestnutty colour then set to one side to cool a little.
Deflate your risen dough by pulling it from the bowl and putting it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in 2-3 tablespoons of pain flour and form it into a ball, then cover with your clean tea towel and leave for 5 minutes to rest. Lightly flour your work surface again and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until you have a large rectangle roughly 20 x 12 inches or as big as you can get it without it being too thin and flimsy. Brush the whole thing with your browned butter using a pastry brush and then sprinkle over all of your spiced sugar. It seems like a lot, because it is a lot, but this is a weekend treat remember not an everyday snack!
Now slice your dough vertically into six strips as equal as you cna get them, and stack them one on top of the other. One of the beautiful things about pull apart bread is that it doesn't really matter if you tear it a little, so don't panic if you make a few accidental incisions. Slice this stack into six equal squares, so you have six sugary piles of six squares. Place each little stack into your greased tin on its side so it looks like a stack of pages nestled in there. Cover again with your clean tea towel and put back in a warm place to double in size again - about 30 to 45 minutes.
About 15 minutes before your dough has done with its final rise get your oven preheating to 180C / 350F, then when its ready bake your loaf on the middle shelf for about 30-35 minutes or until your have a cooked center and nicely dark brown crust. I checked mine by prodding the centre of the loaf with a wooden skewer to see if it came out sticky or with just a few crumbs. Sticky means it needs a few more minutes, crumbs means just right so whip it out of the oven!
Let the loaf rest in its tin for 15-20 minutes before running a knife around the edge to loosen it and carefully inverting it out of the tin. Pop it on a nice plate and then go at it, no manners are needed for pull apart bread!
We ate half the day it was made and the rest the day after keeping it under a good tight layer of cling film. It should last for 2-3 days covered like this unless of course you eat it all in one go, and no-one could blame you for that...