Garlic-Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread

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Last weekend, I made a Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread. I’d wanted to do one for a while. Somehow, my baking experiments in Bangalore (in fact, my bread experiments, in general) are seldom successful.

The bad-bread-baking, I owe to not-so-great yeast. Ma helped me overcome that. Her friend’s daughter was visiting from UK and got us some good yeast. And another friend of hers was returning from a trip to the United States, and she came back with gluten and yeast and other such ‘goodies’.

I used a recipe I’ve tried before. The first time I’d attempted a pull-apart bread, back in Pune, I used Joy The Baker‘s cinnamon and sugar pull-apart bread recipe. The second time I tried it, again in Pune, I used Shaheen‘s pesto rolls recipe. Neither worked. It was the yeast. I don’t see what else could have gone wrong.

This time around, I tweaked Joy The Baker’s recipe a little bit and made it a garlic parmesan pull-apart bread. I was quite pleased with the results.

Ingredients:
For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Filling:
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup (melted) unsalted butter

Ingredients:
1. Heat the water until it just begins to boil. Add the yeast and the sugar to it and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it is frothy.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour and the salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs well.
4. Heat the milk and melt the butter in it. Let it cool down to room temperature.
5. Pour the milk and butter into the flour mixture, along with the water and yeast mixture. Gradually add the eggs and stir with a spatula until fully incorporated.
6. The dough is very sticky at this point. Add some more flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the dough is still a little sticky.
7. Grease a bowl and put the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and store in a warm place for a couple of hours.
8. After about 2 hours, the dough should have doubled in size. Sprinkle some dough on a flat surface and knead the dough one last time, for a couple of minutes.
9. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 20 inches long.
10. Spread the crushed garlic, the parmesan and the thyme over the dough and the pour the melted butter over it uniformly. Use a basting brush to aid the process.
11. Slice the dough into 6 to 8 strips, vertically. Stack the strips on top of each other.

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12. Now slice the stack into 6 or 8 chunks and layer them one over the other.

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13. Grease a loaf pan (I used my regular 9 inch cake pan because I don’t own a loaf pan) and place the stacked up dough squares in it by flipping the entire stack over on it’s side, to resemble the final pull-apart loaf.

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14. Cover this with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place for another 30-45 minutes (or until the dough has doubled in size).

15. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (180 degrees celsius). Place the loaf in the oven and bake about 30-40 minutes. At this point, the top of loaf will be a nice golden-brown. Keep it for another 10 minutes or so, until the top of the loaf begins to darken, to ensure that the bread is not raw on the inside.
16.Take the loaf out of the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.

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Notes:
1. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of sugar. I cut down on the sugar, because I wasn’t doing a sweet bread. I needed only enough to let the yeast cultivate.
2. I also left the vanilla extract out, for the same reason. A savoury bread, as opposed to a sugary one.
3. When you add yeast to warm water (with sugar), a couple of things I’ve learnt to know if the yeast is good and will help make decent bread are that the yeast mixture, after sitting for a few minutes begins to froth. You can also smell the yeast very distinctly, as opposed to using not-so-good yeast, where you might really need to stick your nose very close to the bowl to get a whiff of the yeast culture.
4. If your first batch of yeast and water doesn’t froth as desired, go ahead and do another round. There’s really no point using it with the other ingredients and wasting a whole bread-recipe on bad yeast. I’ve learnt the hard way. Just saying.
5. I couldn’t eat the entire loaf in one go, so I wrapped it up in cling-wrap and ate it over the next couple of days – one time with some pesto, another time with a tangy tomato chutney that I made. I even double fried some eggs, the third time and made it a yummy breakfast bread combination with some sausages.
6. I always thought it was molten butter. 😦 Turns out, it’s melted butter, as @nandu pointed out earlier today: http://grammarist.com/usage/melted-molten/

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