Would you not have a little spring in your step if you woke to the smell of cinnamon, cocoa, and bread baking? Well, if it was this bread and some coffee. Yes, that would do it.
I saw this pull apart bread recipe on Joy the Baker's website and immediately felt compelled to make it. I had to wait three whole days before I had the time to make it. Three whole days of staring longingly at the photos, reading the recipe over and over. I mean look at it, how could you not?
I was so completely obsessed with this bread that it was very late at night before I was able to make the dough and get it snuggled in the fridge for an overnight rest.
It is a yeast dough made rich with butter and eggs then rolled out and spread with browned butter, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. It is very similar to making cinnamon rolls but instead of rolling the dough up into a log and slicing it, you slice this dough into strips, stack them, cut them into sections and then place them in the pan sort of like a flip book.
What sort of evil genius came up with this?
I had to summon every spare ion of self control I could muster to take a few photos before I called my family to breakfast. This was really lovely. Some of the sugar caramelized making the edges crunchy, the middles were soft and yeasty, and the cocoa rounded out the flavors and made it seem, if possible, richer and more decadent. I hope you'll make this soon for someone you love, or better yet, I hope you wake tomorrow morning finding that someone has made this for you!
We added a little icing drizzle to the top while it was still warm. Oh my.
The finished product.
Cinnamon Sugar and Cocoa Pull-Apart Bread
Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf
For the Dough:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cups whole wheat pastry 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
For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl whisk together all purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt and then set aside.
Whisk the eggs until well combined and set aside.
In a small saucepan, gently warm the milk and butter over medium low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a few minutes, 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 dough will be very wet and seem like it will never come together. Be patient, keep stirring. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and stir with the spatula until the flour is incorporated. You still want the dough to be a bit sticky but it should be smooth and elastic looking.
Place the dough in a large bowl that has been oiled with a bit of vegetable oil. Give the dough a turn to make sure the top surface is lightly oiled. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. After the dough has had a chance to rise you can place some plastic wrap over the dough and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Before continuing with the recipe allow the dough to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes on the kitchen counter should do the trick.
If you plan to make the bread right away, then while the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa for the filling. Set this aside and then melt 2 ounces of butter over medium heat until browned. Remove the butter from the heat and set aside.
Lightly oil a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, line the pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Deflate the risen dough and knead in about 2 additional tablespoons of flour. Cover again and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough to a rectangle approximately 12 by 20 inches. By all means guesstimate! Brush the melted butter evenly across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar mixture.
Slice the dough into four equal strips. Carefully stack the strips on top of one another and then slice the stack into eight equal portions. You’ll have eight stacks of four squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. Joy warns that "The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well".
While the bread is baking mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth and set aside.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. If you are able to accomplish this you may be canonized for saint hood. Evenly drizzle the icing over the warm bread. Lift the bread out of the pan using the parchment paper. Serve warm with coffee or tea.
I think this bread is best served the day it’s made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days. If it lasts that long.