Cinnamon and Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
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A few weeks ago while searching for recipes online by Bea Ojakangas, the Scandinavian chef to whom Nigella Lawson credits the processor Danish pastry dough recipe, I stumbled upon a most delectable looking cinnamon pull-apart bread. Its creators, Lindsay and Bjork, had taken a class with Bea and learned how to make this “pulla,” which they described as “everything you love about cinnamon rolls in a pull-apart bread form.”
With that in mind, last Saturday, I made a batch of my favorite cinnamon roll dough, shaped it into a log as described above, and baked it for a few friends passing through town en route to an Easter gathering. The loaf of pulla stretched from corner to corner of the sheet pan, oozed with cinnamon and sugar upon baking, and required my largest cutting board for serving.
When our friends arrived, we tucked in immediately, each pulling at the nearest coil, spreading cream cheese icing over each bite, eating and talking and sipping coffee until not a crumb remained — it couldn’t have been more festive or fun.
As you can see it stretches from end to end of a large cutting board. This is kind of fun — very dramatic! — for a large gathering, but for a daintier presentation, cut the dough in half and bake two smaller loaves:
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Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
Dough adapted slightly from Molly Wizenberg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 cups (446 g) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup (114 g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast
- olive oil or butter for greasing
- 3/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4 to 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Make the dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. (If you don’t own a microwave, gently heat the butter and milk together in a small skillet.) Place 1 cup (128 g) of the flour, the sugar, the egg and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed. Slowly pour the warm milk and butter mixture into the bowl. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Touch the mixture to make sure it is just barely warm. Sprinkle yeast over top and stir. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups (318 g) flour to the mixing bowl. Continue beating on low speed until flour is absorbed, about 8 minutes. (Note: In the past, I have added more flour, about a quarter cup, but most recently I don’t add any more flour. The dough will not gather around the hook — it will look like a sticky mess — but after the two hour rise, it is surprisingly easy to work with.)
- Let the dough rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with butter or oil. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, mix sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Punch down dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each into a large rectangle about ½-inch thick. Spread 2 (or more) tablespoons butter onto each half, sprinkle with just enough cinnamon sugar to cover — you will have extra; don’t go overboard or you will have issues with the cinnamon and sugar oozing out during the baking — and roll into a log starting with the short side. Place each log seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make cuts every couple of inches straight down leaving the last layer of the log intact. Gently pull the sections outward as pictured above. Let rise for about 40 to 45 minutes or until slightly puffed. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake the loaves: Brush the loaves with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden — this may take more or less time depending on the size of your loaves and on your oven. Let cool slightly. Whisk the powdered sugar and milk together. Drizzle over top. Serve.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cinnamon, pull-apart, bread
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47 Comments on “Cinnamon and Sugar Pull-Apart Bread”
Gorgeous bread & images, as usual! Pinned
Gorgeous as usual! Pinned times two 🙂
Drool. Can’t wait for the weekend baking to begin!
LOVE! Must try this one!
YES you do! So yummy.
Looks outrageous! I’ve yet to make a successful cinnamon roll batch so I’m eager to try this. Also, thanks for the link to Bea’s website! Amazing.
Lisa, you do! And I need to update the post because I make it even simpler now: I mix up the dough the night before, don’t knead it, stick it in the fridge, then take it out early in the morning to finish its rise and continue with the rolling. It’s so much easier than how the original recipe is written.
And, I know, I want to buy Bea’s casserole cookbooks even though I never make casseroles. She’s just too cute. I also found this great video of Bea and Julia baking together: https://video.pbs.org/video/2250836226/
She shows how to make her processor Danish pastry dough and a few yummy looking pastries, too.
I’d love to make this Friday night to bake Saturday…I don’t understand what you mean when you say don’t knead it…which step are you skipping?
Hi CM! The original recipe calls for kneading the dough in a stand mixer until smooth and elastic. I don’t do this — I mix the dough in the stand mixer (or by hand) just until the flour is absorbed. It is still very sticky when I am done mixing, but after the 2-hour rise, it is surprisingly easy to work with. Hope that clarifies!
Hi! I made the dough last night (just mixed by hand in a bowl) and put it in the fridge before any rising. Then took out and put it to rise for a few hours…but it isn’t rising. Wondering if I did something wrong. Are you suppose to let it rise before you put it in the fridge overnight? From reading the other comments I didn’t think so. I am going to give it a go in a few minutes and see what happens. Was hoping for some yummy pull-apart bread for Easter Sunday…thanks!
Hi CM, I do let it rise before I stick it in the fridge. I don’t do this when I made something like focaccia, but with these sweeter doughs, I do let it rise at room temperature for a few hours. I hope it worked out??!! Let me know. I’m sorry the comments were not more clear. I need to make a note in the recipe. Happy Easter!
I come from Finland, and wanted to post this on facebook to my Finnish friends (how you seem to make art even from our “ordinary” pulla!). But the photos do not follow, or come from some other posts of yours, tomatoes etc.. 🙂 Hope you are able to fix that one!
Were there not cardamom in the original recipe? I absolutely love cardamom in pullas, and I guess most finns add some in the dough.
Oh Maria, I know, something is weird on my site — feel free to drag any photos you wish to your desktop and repost as needed. I love that “pulla” is ordinary to you! It’s a dream for us 🙂
I think the original recipe on pinch of yum does have cardamom. I love cardamom, too, and will definitely try it next time around. Where in Finland are you? I’ve been to Turku ages ago now for a soccer tournament.
Love the look and I bet they are over the moon good.
What a sweet sentiment behind this communal breakfast treat! Makes me wish I had a big farm table with benches for us to gather around and pull off pieces of cinnamon-y goodness. Awesome twist on the usual, Ali! Love your gift ideas, too. I try, but it isn’t easy to show my mom how much I think of her.
Awww, Sophie, you are too sweet. I think your mama must know how much you think of her. And me too — would love to have a big farm table! We just moved and the previous owners left us this awesome/funky retro banquet and table. Not charming, but comfortable and fun. One day we will find that farm table 🙂
What a thoughtful cinnamon bread to make for your friends. Looks like you put a lot of love in this.
As usual, your photos are amazing.. Looks so yummy!! I just read a homemade life and am so excited to read Delancey!!
I know, me, too! I think you would really like It’s a Dirty Life especially since you’ve had experience working on a farm.
This looks great I might have to make it like this afternoon.
it’s impossible not too 🙂 Thanks, Micheline!
Love that you’re reading The Dirty Life! I love that book so much….I also love the idea of the pulla….it’s beautiful and looks like cinnamon and sugar heaven on a board! My favorite photo, I know I’m weird, is the unbaked pulla one….something so delectable looking about unbaked, risen dough!! So much gardening, so little time! I could use a coffee, Ali recipe break! XXOO!
Laurie, I ordered the book after you told me about the sweet potato pie! I still haven’t made it, but definitely will be doing so this fall. Can’t wait! Wish we could take a coffee break together. I built a raised bed over the weekend. Hoping to have an herb garden at the very least this summer. Big hugs! xo
Oh wow- this is amazing! I don’t know how you were able to photograph this without ripping off a chunk! I probably would’ve eaten that whole thing. Beautiful shots 🙂
Well, remember, I made two loaves: 1 for snacking, 1 for photographing 🙂 Thanks, Emilie!
Hi, Ali! Your pictures are so beautiful! I especially love the one with the rolls on the parchment lined tray. The icing looks like abstract art. So pretty! Yes, I find design inspiration from cinnamon bread, 🙂
I have been using Molly Wizenberg’s recipe for 5 years but have never thought about making it as you have here. That is why I am so glad I follow your blog (among many other reasons). In this instance, you showed me how to use an old recipe in a new way. Which is wonderful because even though I have success with cinnamon rolls I am not so adept at the slicing of the dough. I usually have to re-roll. Thanks for sharing this recipe and as always, your lovely stories.
Thanks, Trish! If you like MW cinnamon rolls, then you will love this bread. It’s a little crisper on the edges, but still gooey and soft on the inside. And the communal aspect of pulling the loaf apart is fun, too. I really need to update this recipe, too, bc I’ve been making the dough the night before and I haven’t been kneading it, and it works really well. Hope you are well!
You Rock!!! I have made the Cream Cheese Danishes and they were amazing. I cannot wait to make this. Thank you for the amazing recipes!!! Happy Mother’s day!
Thank you, Christy! You are sweet. So happy to hear this. I love this pull-apart bread.
Ali — did you have any trouble with cinnamon sugar oozing out and scorching in the oven? I shouldn’t have read the comments on Pinch of Yum…. it freaked me out….!
Hi Sophie! I did the first time. I used way too much cinnamon and sugar, and it oozed out, but my sheetpan contained all of it, so I didn’t have any issues with it scorching my oven fortunately. If you are careful with sprinkling just enough cinnamon and sugar to make a thin layer, you will be totally fine. Happy baking! Dreaming about your quesadillas…
I have made these twice in the past two weeks. Everyone loves them! I love the pull-apart concept and enjoy serving them this way. There is a definite show stopper quality to it. My cinnamon and sugar oozed out the first time too, but I corrected it the second time. Also, I baked one roll straight away and put the second one in the fridge overnight. I had my husband set it on the counter when he left early for work the next morning, and baked it an hour and a half later. They were both absolutely perfect. I printed this and added it to my collection…I try hundreds of recipes and not many get added to my “absolutely cannot ever lose this one” collection. Thank you!
So happy to hear this, Katie! Your experience sounds just like mine: oozing first time around, corrected second time around, stored one in fridge overnight — love being able to do this! Thanks for writing in!
Doing some pre-polar vortex baking! 1st rise almost done! XO!
I have a question about making it the nite before…do you use the dough hook or just mix the dough and then refrigerate…so don’t mix it for 8 min? thanks
Hi Leanne, sorry just getting to this. I just mix with a spoon — no dough hook, no 8 minutes. Just mix it up then refrigerate.
Can you give more details on the overnight fridge method? How long do you leave it out the next day before baking?
Also – when you say punch down the dough, is that the same thing as the two-fork turning thing you do for the peasant bread?
And one more – would this work with active dry yeast instead of instant?
Overnight method: follow the recipe through the shaping and placing into pans. Refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature for about an hour before baking … truthfully, they probably could go straight from fridge to oven, but it’s typical to bring things to room temperature before baking.
Punch down: you can use the fork method though the dough might be a little stiffer, so you may have better luck with your hands.
Active dry yeast: yes. “Bloom” it with the liquid (be sure the liquid is not too hot) and a little bit of the sugar.
These look delicious! Using the overnight method, should I cover with plastic wrap while in the refrigerator ? Thanks
Oh gosh…..I’ve made this before so I shouldn’t be confused! When you talk about the easier method and “not kneading” do you mean not doing the eight minute part in the stand mixer? I don’t see when the “kneading” is done?
Hi Laurie! I’m probably too late here, but yes: essentially I just skip the mixing in the stand mixer.
Hi Ali! Do you think it would be possible to freeze one of the rolls? You mention a freezing option for your cinnamon rolls and I’m thinking it should work here, too. My thoughts are- mix, let rise, punch down, shape, then one roll goes into the fridge for an overnight rise and the other goes into the freezer. For the freezer one, I would move to the fridge for an overnight rise before baking. Thoughts?
Hi Jackie! Yes, I think you definitely can freeze one of the loaves, and I think your method sounds perfect. Go for it!