A Pull-Apart Loaf or Two

Some foods evoke nostalgia and inspire you to cook in a certain way. The desire to re-capture a high school memory via the taste buds had me baking this bread.
Years back when I was at a boarding school, the 11.30 AM brunch was very often 3 slices of white bread and mango pickle atop it- just that.
I never cared for it much back then, but a chance reference to it while chit-chatting with a school buddy had me craving for it.  The memory of Bridgette (our Brunch Inspector 😉 ) handing out brunches with a sullen face made me go all mushy and had me baking this Achaari pull-apart loaf. We humans are such contrary beings!

I had some pickle masala left-over from the first pickle I made this season, and my very first ever, from Shailaja’s lip smacking mango pickle recipe here.
Saw the concept of a pull-apart loaf here and was keen to try it out. Loved the rustic look. Also the fact that there was no slicing to do 😛 Simply pull a slice off the loaf and go chomp chomp. Bless you Bridgette.

Like always, I made a big batch of dough and made two of these.
An achaari pull apart loaf

IMG_20140805_165155_wmand a Garlic Cilantro pull-apart loafIMG_20140805_162013_wm

The recipe below bakes one 9”x5” loaf. (I doubled it to get these two loaves)

Ingredients:

For the Dough

Maida/All Purpose Flour- 3 cups
Milk/ Warm water- ½ cup
Sugar- 1 tsp
Instant Yeast- 1 tsp/ 2 tsp if using active dry yeast
Salt- 1 tsp
Olive oil/ Butter- 2 Tbsp (I used Olive oil)
Milk – ½ to ¾ cup to knead (add gradually as required)
Whole Milk/cream  and butter for brushing

For the filling

For the Achaari loaf, I used 2 Tbsp leftover pickle masala (you may use any masala of your choice.In fact, any sweet or savoury filling may be used)

Mix all the ingredients given below to prepare the Garlic Cilantro filling.

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Butter at room temperature -2 Tbsp
Fresh ground black pepper- 1/4 tsp
Salt-¼ tsp only if using unsalted butter
Minced garlic- 1 Tbsp
Chopped cilantro/coriander leaves- 1 Tbsp fine

Prove the yeast – add the sugar to 1/2 cup of milk/warm water. Mix well. The water/milk has to be just the right temperature- not too hot, because that will kill the yeast and not too cool,because the yeast won’t prove. Drop some on the back of your wrist and it should feel warm there. Add the yeast and rest covered for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should froth like soapy bubbles. If it doesn’t, throw the mix and start afresh. Proper proving of the yeast is vital to good bread! I prove the yeast even if the instructions on the pack recommend adding to the flour straight. I like to make sure that the yeast is active proceed only when the yeast mixture looks like this 2

In a big bowl, take the flour and salt. Mix. Once the yeast has bloomed, add it to the flour and knead the dough with warm milk. I say ½ to ¾ cup because you need to see how much the dough kneads. Add milk slowly as you knead.

Add the Olive oil/butter and knead for another 10-12 minutes till you get non-sticky, supple dough.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, or a kitchen towel and rest for one and a half to two hours. The dough should double up. The time actually depends on the weather conditions-if very hot, it doubles sooner than the 1 ½ hours. This is the first prove.

Remove from the bowl once the dough is doubled and gently knock out the air.
Roll it out into a  big square, about 12” x 12” and spread the filling generously.
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Now cut the square into 6 long equal strips.
Achaari Loaf
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Garlic Cilantro Loaf

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Place one strip over the other, keeping the filling covered side facing the top.

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The final strip should be kept the filling smeared side down.
Cut the stack into equal squares and arrange in a greased 9”x5” loaf pan.
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Leave covered for a second prove. This takes 45-60 minutes. (Yeah, I used the ruler to measure and cut as I cannot draw a serious straight line, so bad was I at the drawing class 😛 )

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And here is the Achaari all set to enter the oven. Look at it all nice and puffed!
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Pre-heat an oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Brush the top of the loaf gently with whole milk or cream and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes till it is done. The milk brush gives a beautiful brown crust. Keep an eye as each oven works differently.As soon as it is out of the oven, brush with some melted butter. Let sit in the pan for a few minutes and remove. Enjoy with a hot cuppa or some soup 🙂
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20 thoughts on “A Pull-Apart Loaf or Two

  1. hi garima,
    i tried this today but it was not soft like a bread and it was little kaccha also. i baked it for 40 min. it became like soft biscuits:-(( i dont know where i went wrong..

    1. Hi Juhi
      Have you been baking breads before? You need to understand how your oven temp works. Improper temperature is the only reason I see if you have followed the recipe exactly.

  2. wowwww.. lovely bread.. ❤ .. although i like cooking a lot but new to baking breads.. i am using morphy richards oven.. but i am not getting the brown color at all 😦 .. can you please tell me that i should bake breads in which mode to get good brown crust outside and soft bread inside 🙂

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