Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Knead to Bake - January - Herb and Cheese pull-apart Loaf

I have been fond of breads for as long as I remember. Possibly we were often treated to soft and sweet breads that a then famous bakery in Salem sold. My dad would bring them and other goodies whenever he was there on work. But to my husband breads were sick person's meal. He thought they were bland and would refuse to partake bread. He might want a spicy filling even in a sandwich than the normal salad, cheese and veggies. Or better, he would want bread to be made in upma all spiced and flavoured.
I learned to bake bread more for learning a new art than for dishing out at our dining table. I collect recipes for bread and look up blogs that have great recipes. I make a mental note of wanting to try them, but never got around to experiment many.
So, I jumped in when the slightest opportunity came up in this new year. Aparna had asked if we would bake some breads that she had planned to try, one recipe each month of the year 2013. It seemed that I needed such an initiative from someone. So here we are, a group who will bake along with Aparna, one bread recipe each month of 2013 - "We Knead to Bake".

This month we tried the herb and cheese pull apart loaf.
Aparna had shared a workable recipe giving us options that we may try, but not stray faraway from the basic recipe. She had suggested what other stuff may work well for the given recipe and I chose to alter ever so slightly. We (Oh yes, my husband too) liked the bread very much, that I baked again. By then others in the group also had used their choice changes some of which sounded exotic. So with each baking I was changing the herbs and/ or the cheese.
I shall share here Aparna's recipe and if I had changed something, I will mention that.
This has been one success story that has repeatedly got better with each attempt.


For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
25gm butter, soft at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste (I have used gongura chutney that was then available that day)
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)

For the Filling:
15 to 20 gm melted butter (I have used herb infused olive oil, approximately three teaspoons)
2 tsp dried Provencal or mixed herbs* (I used caramelised onions and lot of coriander)
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
Crushed pepper/ red chilli flakes to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (Paneer with crushed dry mint)


In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up.
Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in a bowl and mix. 
Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. 
Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil.

Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. 
Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter (Herb infused oil). 
Evenly sprinkle the herbs, pepper/ chilli flakes, caramelised onions and the cumin seeds and then the grated cheese (crumbled paneer).
 Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips.
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. 
Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin.
Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf.
Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown. This recipe bakes one 9” by 5” loaf.

On my second attempt, I used 2 cups all purpose flour and 3/4 cup powdered quick cooking oats. I cooked the chopped tomatoes with a spice powder that my mother-in-law uses, until dry and used for the filling along with cheddar cheese.
To me this is a keeper recipe that I have noted all options for fillings that other members have used for further baking.

This pairs well with any soup. Or you may serve these soft pull-aparts for breakfast too.

If my bread has lured you, go check what others have shared. You may find links to all of them in Aparna's  post.


  1. never tried to bake pull apart kind breads. Should help the flavorings to blend well with the bread I think.looks very tempting.

  2. Gongura chutney sounds exotic!With so many filling ideas around,this bread is going to see many avataars in my oven soon:)

  3. Wow love the way you have shaped your bread Lata. Really nice :) BTW love ur blog too.

  4. Beautiful and perfect looking loaf..Caramelized onion and paneer should be a winner filling..

  5. Never tried this.. So yummy and Gongura is great combination

  6. beautiful bread with such a great balance of flavors. I am sure your hubby would come around to love breads.

  7. Loved teh idea of gongura chutney, especially. I miss gongura leaves out here :-( Lovely breads, lataji.

  8. Such a beauty...Loved your way of presentations.....

  9. Same case with me Latha. I love bread and husband also believes it is what you should eat if you are ill !!!! I am slowly trying to convert him. Has not had much of an impact. But he does not mind these herbed breads once in a way as a snack in the evening !!! Will give this a try.

  10. I really like the other fillings tou tried. And the breads look perfect! It was fun baking together. :)

  11. Love the pics Lata!!!Next time I would want to try the caramelized onion as baking with you all

  12. didnt we all love doing this... :) iam yet to innovate myself, oats must have been an interesting addition... my husband likes only savory artisan breads so i was saved...

  13. wow...loved the filling and pictures...i too wanted to try caramelized onions as filling but simply baked with sauteed onions..will try it next time...Nice to be a part of this group!

  14. making me weak in the knees with these combos Lata. wish all we pull apart bakers cd all be in a room together with these loaves to share and enjoy. That wd be a feast to remember!

  15. I think the paneer idea is so good. I know i will be drooling a lot for this bread as every one is posting. next time I think i should keep a chunk in the freezer and take itoutfor eating while i comment :-)

  16. Lovely clicks Lataji, I would love to try this filling too.., caramalized onions and coriander fantastic combo and second one with oats must be really delicious, I love everything with oats.

  17. Stunning pull apart bread, beautifully done akka.

  18. what lovely and yummy bread:)
    Love the pictures!!

  19. My mom is from Salem too! She often talks about the sweet breads of the old days! :D
    The bread loaf beautiful! I like the idea of using oat flour!

  20. Lovely Clicks and loved the addition of caremalised onions and paneer.

  21. Wow! Your pull apart bread looks great! Beautiful!

  22. What a versatile bread... Must be flavorful and great when paired with some soup.

  23. how many variations in a bread Lataji!! gongura chutney and pull apart bread.. true fusion cooking :)

  24. I love how you have innovated in so many ways with this bread.
    Each one unique, and utterly delectable. Yum!

  25. I love how you have innovated in so many ways with this bread.
    Each one unique, and utterly delectable. Yum!

  26. Great to be baking along side such passionate bakers :) Loved the addition of gongura chutney :)

  27. What a wonderful group of bread bakers! Your bread looks amazing!

  28. Love love the pictures and the loaf has turned out perfect. I'm so happy to be baking with you!

  29. Love Caramelized onions in any dish and combine that with my favorite, Bread...I am drooling! Looking at your posts I am so tempted to make this bread again with other fillings! Awesome recipe and looking forward to many more :)

  30. Caramelized Onion and paneer says it all ! tempting !

  31. The gongura chutney is new for me and how I adore your variation with oats!!


Welcome and thank you for taking time to drop by.
I appreciate your valuable comments and tips.
I sincerely hope to improve with them.
Hope we shall interact often.
Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.