This cinnamon sugar pull apart bread is a showstopping recipe. Just follow the simple steps to get this beautiful loaf of yeasted cinnamon bread out of your oven. Make ahead instructions included!
This bread looks like it was terrifying to make, but is actually so simple. All that’s required is patience, waiting for the dough to rise. Yeast rewards us all for our effort though! It rewards us by leading us to the fluffiest, softest bread, warm from the oven. Also, whenever you bake a yeasted dough and it comes out really good, you can’t help but feel a great sense of accomplishment. Just follow the steps, and you too can conquer dough!
My source for this recipe was Joy the Baker (I posted her Chocolate Loaf Cake earlier). This recipe came out with a bang years ago, leading to endless riffs on pull apart bread. Apple pie pull apart bread, jalapeno cheddar pull apart bread. I’ll have to try both some day, but I can never tear myself away from the classic. It’s just tooooo good. Layers of sweet yeasted dough are filled with a browned butter cinnamon sugar mixture and baked in a way that you can pull one square of dough off at a time to eat. It’s like an ultimate cinnamon roll but in loaf form- and you don’t even need a glaze. This is probably my husbands favorite thing ever that I make and I can’t fault his judgement at all.
The dough is a simple affair, slightly sweetened with sugar and enriched with melted butter and eggs. You can mix by hand, or you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook like I did. The original recipe calls for mixing by hand so don’t worry if you don’t have a mixer. It’ll end up be slightly sticky, so resist the urge to load it with extra flour.
Make ahead instructions:
What you can do, and what I prefer to do, is to refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise, so you can continue with the remaining steps and have a fresh baked loaf without too much delay the next morning. Just take the dough out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature for around 30 minutes, then continue with the below instructions of rolling it out and the second rise.
You brown some butter, (easy! remember this recipe?) , and set it aside. You mix together cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and set that mixture aside. You’ll proceed to brush the dough with the melted browned butter that’s cooled, then sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mix on top. Sound tempting yet?
Making Dough Squares
After the dough has rested, you knead in a couple tablespoons of flour. and this will make it less sticky. You then roll it out into a 12×20 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface (or as big a rectangle as you can get without the dough splitting apart). You then brush the browned butter on top, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. It seems like a lot of sugar, but that’s ok, you’re going for it.
You use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into six equal strips (top to bottom). Stack the strips on top of each other, then cut into six equal pieces again. You’ll end up with six stacks of six squares. You’re well on your way to cinnamon sugar pull apart bread!
In a greased pan, you’ll place the dough squares sideways. You might have to squeeze to get them to all fit in the pan. It’ll look like a dough accordion! Cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let it rest for 45 minutes in a warm place or until almost doubled in size.
Bake at 180 C (350F) for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown in color. Remove from oven, let it rest 10 minutes, then dig in while it’s still warm and heavenly.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread
For the dough:
- 3 cups all purpose flour 375 g
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 56 g butter (1/2 stick or 2 oz)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 56 g butter, browned (1/2 stick or 2 oz)
- In a large bowl) whisk together 2 cups of the flour (250g), sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.
- Whisk together the 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 is room temperature or registers 46-50 C (115 to 125 degrees F) on a thermometer.
- Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or with the dough hook on your stand mixer. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. It might take some time to come together but that’s fine. Keep stirring!
- Add 3/4 cup of flour (94g) and continue mixing (either with spatula or dough hook in mixer) for about 2 minutes. The dough will come together and feel sticky which is the correct texture.
- Place the dough is a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.* Follow note for make ahead instructions.
- While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside.
- Brown the butter by heating in a saucepan over medium heat and whisking while the butter changes color to a golden brown, and little brown flecks begin to form.** Set butter aside.
- Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and dust with flour. Set this aside.
- Once dough has risen for about 1 hour, deflate the risen dough, and knead in an additional 2 tablespoons of flour. This will make it less sticky. Cover again and let it rest 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. It’ll form a long thick rectangle. Roll it out as big as you can get.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the cooled brown butter all over the dough rectangle, leaving just a 1-2 inch of dough border around the sides.
- Sprinkle the top of the browned butter with the whole cinnamon sugar mix, even though it seems like a lot go for it!
- Using a very sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice the dough vertically into 6 equal sized strips from top to bottom. Stack these six slices on top of each other, and cut again into six squares.
- Place these squares accordion like into the prepared loaf pan (So they are all on their sides). Place the damp kitchen towel over the loaf pan, and allow to rise again in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F) while the dough rises.
- Once resting period is over, bake the dough for 30-35 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Don’t under bake or bread will be cooked on top but doughy in the middle.
- Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 15-20 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and flip the loaf out onto a serving platter. Enjoy immediately while warm! (Although leftovers can be kept for 2 days at room temperature and reheated).
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