I knew about this one.
I knew about this one the first time I saw it.
I knew, like the way you know about a good melon, that this bread would be fantastic.
And sure enough, I was right. Very right.
This is the kind of bread you make when you’re having a bad day. It’s the kind of bread you make when your house smells like a cat/old quesadillas/laundry that is a tad overdue. Not that I know what those smell like.
It’s the kind of bread you make when you really want dessert, but you want to be healthy, so you figure if you work real hard (or not really that hard) you’ll deserve dessert.
Though you shouldn’t have to deserve dessert. If you want dessert, then by golly, have it. Yes. I just said “by golly.” Moving along.
This is also the kind of bread you make when you have a taste for cinnamon. Or browned butter. Or nutmeg. Or butter. Or all of the above.
I can see this bread tasting just as delicious all citrusy, or with apples worked into the dough, or perhaps tinged with orange zest. But this way, too, is perfect. Like a good melon.
Cinnamon Browned Butter Pull-Apart Loaf
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yields: 1 loaf
For the dough —
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup soy milk (regular milk works just fine, too)
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the filling —
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted until browned
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
Whisk eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and milk over medium-low heat until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add water and vanilla extract. Cool to 115 degrees F.
Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir on low speed. Add eggs and stir until everything is just mixed, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir on low-medium speed (about #2 or #4 on your stand mixer) for about 2 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky, but that’s OK.
Pour the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
In the meantime, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a small sauce pan until just browned and set aside. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
Remove risen dough from bowl, punch down and knead in 2 tbsp of flour. Let rest for five minutes, covered with a kitchen towel. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin into a 20 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush on the butter, then sprinkle evenly the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Slice the dough north to south into six even strips. Stack the strips and slice that stack into six equal squares (you’ll have six stacks of six squares). Prop up the loaf pan on the rolling pin and stack the squares cut-side down into the pan so it looks like a stack of papers. Sprinkle some of the extra cinnamon-sugar mixture that spilled on the countertop on the top of the loaf. Cover the pan and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When dough is doubled, uncover and bake about 35 minutes, or until the top of the dough is a deep, dark brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes. Then, run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the loaf, invert onto a plate and then invert again, ride side up, onto a pretty plate to serve. Serve warm.