Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cinnamon sugar pull-apart loaf

Knowing that my cousin and her family were coming from New York to visit, I wanted to bake something for her to welcome her arrival. It had to be something to do with bread, since I was not ready to venture into cookie and cake territory. It had to be better than plain wholemeal bread... something sweet, nice to have with a cup of milky tea or coffee. After Googling around a bit for ideas, I decided on a cinnamon sugar pull-apart loaf: sweet, aromatic, warm, comforting.

There were a couple of modifications I made to the original receipe:

(1) The original receipe called for 2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour. But I decided to substitute half of that for coarsely ground wholemeal flour for a more wholesome nutty flavour that would be enhanced by the cinnamon. 

(2) Instead of using vanilla essence as stated in the original receipe, I used vanilla powder. 

(3) With respect to the "Filling", I used 46.5g less butter and much less sugar than required by the original receipe.

The dough was a little hard to handle as it was very sticky, and acted like high-hydration dough. So there was some difficulty in slicing the dough into pieces, stacking it up, and transferring the stack to our small loaf pan.

As the loaf baked, the kitchen was filled with the rich and warm aroma of cinnamon and vanilla, reminding me of christmas cookies. The loaf turned darker in colour and the top became a deep crusty brown.


The loaf split a little in the centre where there was the most cinnamon.

Taste test

Texture-wise, the loaf was surprising. Despite being half coarsely-ground wholemeal, the loaf was a fine line between cake and bread. That could have been due to my using PrimaFlour's Plain Flour, which I suspect is not unbleached, and due to the amount of butter used. If I had used only the Plain Flour, I reckon the loaf would have turned out more like cake.

Its cinnamon flavour was not too strong - perhaps a little more could have been added. It was not too sweet other, but just light, soft, moist and buttery.

My cousins and their families, and my mother seemed to like it, and were impressed at its softness and lightness. I think this receipe is a good one for parties and get-togethers, and you can modify the percentage of type of flour, cinnamon, sugar and butter to suit the eaters' tastes.


Note: This receipe was adapted from Joy the Baker.

1 1/4 cup wholemeal flour
1 2/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
56.5g unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
A sprinkle of vanilla powder

2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
10g unsalted butter, melted


1. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt, and set aside.

2. Whisk eggs and set aside.

3. Put milk and butter in a small pan and melt the butter. Then remove from the heat and add the water and vanilla powder. Give it a stir to dissolve the vanilla powder. Then let the mixture stand for one or two minutes.

4. Pour the mixture into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix them. Add the eggs and stir until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir for about 2 minutes.  When the mixture feels sticky, it is ready for resting.

5. Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

6. While the dough rises, put together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling, and set aside. Then melt the butter until browned and set aside. Grease your loaf pan and set aside.

7. Deflate the risen dough. Cover with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes.

8. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. (The original receipe suggests that the dough should be 12 inches tall and about 20 inches long.)  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg mixture on it.

9. Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You will have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Allow the dough to rest for another 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

10. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F / 177 degrees C.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is very golden brown, or until the centre registers 195 degrees F / 91 degrees C.

11. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on a bread or cake stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

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