A beautiful mama I know got me on the path of pull-apart breads when she had a craving and asked me out of the blue if I could make them.
You might automatically think of the old Bakers Delight or other high street bakeries with their diced bacon bits and congealed lumps of cheese in their popular pull-apart loaves. In the US they have something called ‘monkey bread’ where a large loaf, sometimes in the shape of a ring is made up of little balls of dough, often soaked in syrup before baking.
The pull-apart breads we know in Australia are generally formed from leaves of dough, layered upright in a loaf pan, with sweet or savoury fillings in-between each layer. I thought I’d flip the tradition, and do a monkey bread style loaf with ham and cheese, and a layered pull-apart loaf with cinnamon-sugar and butter.
The sweet loaf is by no means as sugary as the American standard, with no icing or syrup. Children and adults alike really enjoy these breads which are best served fresh and family style, with each person tearing off a piece. I made the loaves pictured for my parents-in-law’s moving day where they were excellent fuel for 7 large men, 3 women and 2 little boys.
For starters, use my easy bread recipe. You will need one quantity of this recipe for each type of bread. So if you want to make both, you’ll need to double the easy bread recipe
Once the dough has risen, prepare your filling.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
150g butter, melted
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar.
- Brush the interior of a square or a couple of loaf pans with butter, the rest is used to butter the dough. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius
- In a bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugars and mix thoroughly
- Flour your surface and roll out the dough into a rough rectangle about 1cm thick.
- Brush the dough with butter
- Scatter the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough and try to cover it completely and evenly
- Cut the dough into squarish pieces of about 5cm x 5cm
- Stack a few pieces of sugared dough at a time and lay in the prepared tin. Repeat until you have used all the pieces and have formed a layered loaf. At this stage you can actually wrap the whole thing in cling film really tightly and place it in the freezer. When you want to bake it, unwrap the loaf and place it in the oven soon as you turn it on. As the oven warms, the bread will defrost and prove.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bread is golden brown and does not feel squishy when pressed in the centre.
Can be kept for up to 3 days, but it’s unlikely it will hang around that long. You can make mini-versions of these by filling muffin moulds with a few leaves of cinnamon sugar dough.
Ham and Cheese Monkey Bread
400g cheddar or tasty cheese, grated
8 slices of good quality ham.
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celcius and line a square or rectangular baking pan with baking paper. Mine here was 18 x 18cm.
- Flour your surface before turning out the dough. Divide the dough into 16 roughly equal balls.
- Roll or flatten with your palm the dough balls until they are about 1.5 cm thick.
- Fill each piece of dough with a bit of ham and a bit of cheese until you have used up all the filling.
- Pinch the edges of the dough around the filling and seal well. Place the filled dough balls next to each other in the prepared pan. At this stage you can actually wrap the whole thing in cling film really tightly and place it in the freezer. When you want to bake it, unwrap the loaf and place it in the oven soon as you turn it on. As the oven warms, the bread will defrost and prove.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the centre bread balls feel firm when pressed and the top is golden and the leaking cheese golden brown.
- Do cool slightly before consuming because the cheese is hot.
Can be kept for up to 3 days, but it’s unlikely it will hang around that long. Individual dough balls would make a cool school lunch.