sometimes you just get a craving for some really good bread. i recently had such a craving, and it was the kind of craving that even the best new york city bagel wouldn’t satisfy. i have been seeing these pull-apart loaves around the blogosphere for a while now, and they always look like a lot of fun to make. i also had some yummy herbed cheese from sincerely brigitte sitting in my fridge, so i thought i’d give it a try.
i may or may not have eaten this entire loaf of bread, by myself, in one 24-hour period. i just couldn’t stop. first of all, separating the slices of bread from each other is really fun – they just sort of flake apart into perfectly portioned pieces! but more importantly, it was just so good. the slightly crusty exterior gave way to a light and fluffy interior, and the garlic and herbs added a ton of bright, zesty flavor. the oil and cheese just sort of became one with the bread to create an incredibly moist texture with just a hint of cheesy gooeyness. my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
light, fluffy bread full of garlic, herbs, and cheese - and it flakes apart into slices!
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped small
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
- another 2 tablespoons olive oil
- another 1 teaspoon dried basil
- another 6 cloves garlic, chopped small
- 4 ounces herb-filled cheese, grated (i used the parsley chive variety here)
- in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, thyme, ½ teaspoon basil, and 2 cloves of garlic. mix on low speed until everything is combined.
- add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, milk, and water, and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together into a shaggy, sticky ball. switch to the dough hook and mix, still on medium speed, for 3-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
- on a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle (about 12x20 inches). brush the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil onto the dough, then cover it with the remaining basil and garlic. top everything with ¾ of the cheese. set the rest of the cheese aside
- using a sharp knife, cut the rectangle of dough into 6 strips, and stack the strips on top of each other. then cut the stack into 6 equal smaller stacks. transfer all of the stacks into the prepared loaf pan, placing them on their sides against each other so that the cut sides of the dough are on the outside.
- cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size again, about 30 minutes. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚f.
- top the loaf with the remaining cheese and bake it in the oven for about 35 minutes, until it is golden.
- let the loaf cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning it out. serve warm.