|Holly and her husband Arthur. this is my favorite "Holly face."|
My name is Holly and I love to bake. I'm talking ooey, gooey, full fat butter, real sugar, whole milk, high quality chocolate goodness. I like the preciseness of baking. You can't just estimate your measurements or throw things together in a bowl and hope it works out. It takes time and it takes being exact. I love the way my whole house fills up with the smell of melting butter, bubbling sugar, sickeningly sweet ingredients. But you see, lately I have realized the magic that is bread making. Yeast is amazing, kneading dough is relaxing and the accomplishment I feel every time my dough rises appropriately makes me high five myself. But I don't seem to get that same sugar rush with a loaf of bread. Sure. Fresh baked bread makes my house smell fabulous, but in a different way. A less buttery, sugary way. Well friends, I've found a way to have the best of both worlds. A completely transcendent concoction I'm calling orange dreamsicle pull-apart bread. It starts out as a mildly sweet, tender yeast dough and ends up being a slightly citrused, cream cheesed, confectioners sugared, vanilla scented sweet bread that dreams are made of. Oh. And your house will smell like you’re working in an Orange Julius shop. And anyone can do it! Bread seems to intimidate people, but it's just science! Yeast does the work, you just need the patience and a couple of hours for rise time…and voila!
Orange dreamsicle pull-apart bread
And here's how you make it step-by-step. Please ignore my stellar photography skills. I claim to bake, not to photograph.
First, we throw some flour, a bit of granulated sugar, your magical yeast and some salt into a large bowl of a stand mixer and stir it around.
Then we heat up a little whole milk and some butter in a small saucepan until warm and melted.
Let it cool for a minute or two so we don't kill our happy yeasts and add a bit of real vanilla.
Once your milk/butter/vanilla mixture is just slightly cooled - we still want it warm, just not hot - pour it over your flour mixture and stir it up with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly mixed. It will seem dry and a little crumbly. That's ok!
Next, we mix. Using your paddle attachment on your mixer, mix up the dough with two eggs added one at a time at a low speed. Make sure you mix well and scrape down the sides after each addition.
Add a bit more flour and start mixing again until the dough is smooth and a little bit sticky. You made bread dough!
Now, dump it on your floured surface and knead it for just a minute or two until very smooth and no longer sticky. Throw the dough into a large bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, place it in a warm and draft free place and twiddle your thumbs. You want to let this beautiful dough rise until it's pretty much doubled in size. If your kitchen runs warm, this may only take 45 minutes but I find for me this takes closer to an hour. Know how to tell if your bread has had enough time to rise? Stick your finger in it! If the indention stays, it's done! If it bounces back, give it another 15 minutes and try again.
While you're waiting on your dough to rise, make up your tasty, crunchy, sugary filling. Get to zesting. I find that the zest of two medium oranges and one lemon works perfectly. Mix up your zest with some sugar and it will turn into more of a paste as the sugar pulls the oils from the zest.
Dough is done? Dump it out on your floured surface and gently deflate, or punch it down (that always sounds too violent for me), with the palm of your hand and get ready to roll. You're going to want to use a rolling pin and get this dough as close to a 20x12 inch rectangle as you can. It's basically impossible to roll anything into a perfect rectangle, but I find that it doesn't matter all that much for this recipe since I always end up with more of a giant oval anyway.
Now for the healthy part. Melt down a bunch of butter and brush (or pour) every last drop onto your rolled dough. It may seem like too much, but when it comes to baked goods, there's never too much butter. Once you've sufficiently lathered up your dough grab a pizza cutter or a good knife and cut it into 5 even strips
And now comes the filling! Evenly sprinkle a bit of your sugar and zest paste onto one end piece of dough. Stack your next piece of dough on top and sprinkle that one. Repeat until you have your stack of 5 dough slices all sugared up. Now, take your same knife and cut the stack crosswise into 6 equal blocks.
Now, I should have told you earlier, but at this point you should have a prepared loaf pan buttered or sprayed. Start stacking your dough cut sides up in your pan. Cover this up again for your second rise until nearly doubled in size.
Now you're ready to bake! Pop this tasty treat into your preheated 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes until golden on top. Let it cool on a wire rack for a bit, then turn your pan out onto a second cooling rack and flip it back over so it's right side up again.
Now for the glaze. This bread is every bit tasty on its own…but when has a sugary cream cheese icing not upped the ante? Take some softened cream cheese, powered sugar, fresh squeezed orange juice and a bit of milk and stir furiously until smooth. Brush on top of your still warm bread and CONSUME. If you're anything like me you won't be able to stop consuming.
If I have convinced you of this cake's power and you're ready to try your hand at it, you can find the recipe from Flo Baker at http://leitesculinaria.com/535/recipes-lemon-scented-pull-apart-coffee-cake.html. All I have changed is replacing lemon for orange and vice versa. Instead of her zest of 3 lemons and a bit of orange zest in the filling, I used the zest of only one lemon and two oranges. And in the cream cheese glaze I replaced the lemon juice with orange juice. I promise. You won't regret these minor changes. Enjoy!