Christmas Baking DIY Gift Idea

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

My youngest daughter Britney, a college student, came over yesterday, Sunday so we could have a mother daughter baking day.  She decided to bake gifts for everyone at her work and a few of her school friends. Her little apartment kitchen would never accommodate this task, so she came home to cook in my kitchen, which has double ovens... (smart girl!!!).  I admit it was a total blessing...  I love when she visits!  We made a total of eight batches of Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread... (Soooo Yummy!).  
A friend of hers had posted this recipe to her Facebook page. It is a fairly easy recipe, but it does involve a bit of time because you have to knead the dough and then allow the dough to rise in between steps.  Making one or two batches would have be a breeze... But we made 8 batches... and from start to finish, including allowing to completely cool and wrap as gifts, it took us a total of about 7 hours.  The kitchen pretty much looked like a war zone when we were finished because we used so many bowls and utensils, but we had a complete blast! (Now if we only had a maid to clean it all up... hehe)
Recipe -
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread 
Makes: approximately one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf
(Note: we deviated by using  4 x 8 x 3 disposable foil loaf pans - so we made 10 loafs from 8 batches)
Dough Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Filling Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
In a large mixing bowl (I used just the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.  That’s just right.
Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Then continue to next step... (Optional: 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 in the morning before following the roll-out directions below).
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan, then set aside. (Note: if you are using foil disposable pans, you do not need to grease them).  
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay.  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  It might seem like a lot of sugar.  Seriously?  Just go for it.
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. (We used a pizza cutter to slice the dough... Our strips were not the same size as recommended, we modified them, basically guessed, what would work for our foil loaf pans).  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again (or however many slices you can fit across).  You end up with stacks of squares (or rectangles depending on your pan).  Layer the dough in the loaf pan like a flip-book (up on end). Keep in mind they will rise quite a bit while baking so when you cut them they should be a little shorter than the pan height (we figured this out after baking a few).  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow to sit in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown (recommend placing your loaf pans on a cookie sheet as the butter may bubble over the edges, 31 minutes was the right timing in our oven).  If the top is light brown, the center may still be raw.  You want a nice, dark, golden brown top to ensure that the center is cooked.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. We skipped this next step, removing the bread from the pan, as we gift wrapped our completed bread loafs in their tins. However, if you are serving the bread, remove the bread from pan, run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.  Serve warm with coffee or tea (in my hubby's case, milk).  
This bread is amazing served the day it’s made, but it can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for a couple of days. 
End recipe

Here are some pictures from our day...  I found that browning the butter was a new challenge for me. On the first batch I just browned it slowly and watched it constantly... and surprisingly I never burnt it.  Each batch I just watched and when it finally turned a little brown I would take it off the stove and it turned out perfectly. My daughter did all of the kneading, rolling and cutting.. I did the butter browning and dough rise timing and operated the oven (in, out, in, out)...  :)  It was a team effort, but she definitely did most of the dirty work. 

My daughter left us a loaf and this morning I had some for breakfast... It pulls apart easily and it tastes amazing!!!
This recipe took a little work, but it was totally worth it.. 

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