This weekend my husband is in Vegas for a "golf"[insert heavy sarcasm and an eye roll] trip with the boys. As per usual, my kids are both sick for his absence, rendering me completely at my children's mercy for 4 very long days. How does that happen? Whenever my husband leaves, they always come down with something, undermining my confidence as a mother that I can run the show solo for a weekend.
To pass the time, I decided to pull out a recipe I've been dying to make for weeks. Only I decided to switch things up a bit. Instead of making one large loaf of pull-apart bread, why not cut the dough into smaller squares, and bake them in a muffin pan.I love the idea of a bread that you get to just pull small pieces off - but I like having my own little parcel to dissect and do with as I please. Besides, I don't feel like having my kids' sticky germ-infested fingers on my bread. They can have theirs, I can have mine, and we're all happy.
I followed the recipe as written until it came to the assembly. I brushed the dough with the butter, but found that I could only use about half, there was just too much butter to spread. So I reserved the excess butter for drizzling later. After sprinkling the sugar and cinnamon onto the dough, instead of cutting the dough into larger strips meant for a loaf pan, I cut them into small squares, approximately 2 inches.
Don't be too particular here. Just cut, you're just going to cram them into a muffin pan anyway, and the messier it is, the more rustic.
Once my dough was all cut, I just started forming piles. I stacked them into 12 piles, as high as I could without them tumbling over.
Then I placed the piles sideways into a very well-greased muffin pan.
I squeezed in the extra squares of dough, trying to even out the size of each. Now, I'm not going to lie. This is messy business. The sugar will fall out all over your counter. Don't be discouraged - once my dough was evenly distributed in the muffin tray, I scraped up the lost sugar from my (otherwise clean) counter, and sprinkled it onto the bread.
I also drizzled the remaining butter that I didn't use earlier. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were perfect at 23 minutes). Now this is important - PUT A PAN UNDERNEATH TO CATCH ANY DRIPPINGS. Just do it. I, however, did not have the benefit of this wisdom:
Please learn from my mistake. This was the single time this weekend I was actually glad my husband wasn't home. I could just see the look he'd be giving me as smoke billowed out of the oven and filled our kitchen and dining room. That look is not helpful. Nor is it appreciated. Once the smoke cleared and me and my kids were able to breath without coughing, and our eyes had stopped watering, this is what was waiting for us:
Totally worth the trouble. And the smoke damage.Recipe for Mini Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Breads
(adapted from Joy the Baker)
For the Dough:
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
For the Filling:
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 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. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. (I got sick of stirring and dumped the whole mess onto my counter and kneaded it until it came together.) The dough will be sticky.
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm space until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *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 before following the roll-out directions below.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter. Set aside. Generously spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray. When you think you have enough, spray a little more.
Deflate the risen dough and turn onto a well-floured work surface, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to approximately 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Slice the dough vertically and horizontally, making 2 inch squares. Stack the squares on top of one another creating 12 piles. Place the piles sideways into the muffin tins, using up all the dough. Place a kitchen towel over the muffin pan and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes. (Mine did not double in size - but I went ahead and they were turned out great.)
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place muffin pan in the oven WITH A PAN UNDERNEATH TO CATCH DRIPPINGS and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and carefully take out of the pan and place onto parchment paper.