Friday, March 22, 2013

Chocolate Orange Cardamom Pull-Apart

This yeasted pastry is very reminiscent of old-fashioned fantail biscuits.  It's a wonderfully soft yeast dough that is layered with a loose paste of butter, cocoa and Grand Marnier and sprinkled with cardamom sugar.  Instead of forming individual biscuits, the dough is cut and stacked and placed upright in a loaf pan.  The components are very simple and it's an appealing presentation that definitely does beg to be pulled apart.

As the loaf bakes, the layers expand beautifully, displaying a bit like the pages of a well-worn book.  I love the crusty sweet exterior of the loaf and the tender delicious interior.  It's not overly rich or sweet but just right.  If you like working with yeast, this definitely ranks as an easy alternative to cinnamon rolls.  And as we head into brunch season, it would be the perfect thing for your guests to tear into and enjoy along with a steaming hot cup of good coffee.

Bench notes:
- The water to proof the yeast should be warm, not hot, to the touch.  Technically, if you have a thermometer, the temperature of the liquids for yeast should be 110 - 115 degrees F.  This is just above body temperature.  If adding liquid to yeast that has been mixed with dry ingredients, the temperature has to be higher, about 120 - 130 degrees F.
- Salt is important in yeast dough because it slows the rising time and allows the full flavor of the dough to develop.  It also strengthens the gluten and builds the structure of the bread by keeping the carbon dioxide bubbles from expanding too quickly.  Sugar not only adds flavor, it's also a browning agent.
- As you line the loaf pan, the pieces may slouch and the sugar may shift a bit.  That's all OK.  Each loaf has its own character!
- There are other ways to prepare the layers.  You can also spread and sprinkle the filling as you stack the long layers but I think that makes it a bit harder to distribute the filling evenly.
- Remove the baked loaf from the pan after a few minutes to prevent the bread from getting soggy.
- No need to cut the portions; just dig in and pull apart the layers!

Chocolate Orange Cardamom Pull-Apart
Makes 1 loaf

For the dough
1/4 C warm water
1 package (2 1/4 t) active dry yeast
tiny pinch sugar

1/3 C warm milk
2 oz (4 T) butter
1/4 C sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 C - 3 C flour

2 oz (4 T) butter
1/4 C cocoa powder
2 t Grand Marnier

1/2 C sugar
3/4 t cardamom
1/4 t cinnamon

For the yeast dough, place warm water into a large wide bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it along with a tiny pinch of sugar.  Whisk to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.

Heat the milk and butter together just until the butter melts.  Take off the heat and add the sugar, salt and vanilla.  Add to the yeast mixture and whisk in the eggs.  Switch to a fork and stir in 2 3/4 cups of flour.  If necessary, keep adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.

Place the dough on a work surface and knead until soft and elastic.  Grease a large wide bowl with oil and transfer the dough to the bowl.   Turn the dough over to coat all sides.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour until about doubled in size.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment large enough to form an overhang on both sides along the length of the pan.

For the filling, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Whisk in the cocoa.  Cook, whisking constantly, for just another minute to let the flavor and aroma of the cocoa bloom.  Take off the heat and add the Grand Marnier.  Set aside to cool.  In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cardamom and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Gently deflate the dough.  Place on a work surface with a very light dusting of flour.  Roll the dough out to a 20" x 12" rectangle.  Using a pastry brush or a small offset spatula, spread the cocoa paste over the entire surface of the dough.  Sprinkle with all but about 2 teaspoons of the sugar and spice mixture.

Cut the dough lengthwise into five 12" x 4" strips.  Gently lift and stack them on top of each other.  Don't worry about making the stacks look too neat; they needn't be perfect.  Cut the stack into four equal pieces.

Line the prepared loaf pan with the stacked pieces, placing them upright in a row.  Adjust them so they are evenly placed across the length of the pan.  It will seem like there aren't enough but the dough will rise and expand during the second rise and the baking process. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining sugar and set the loaf aside in a warm place to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Lift the yeast bread out of the pan using the paper overhang to assist.  Remove the parchment and cool completely.


Katerina said...

stunning! i'll try it, thanks for sharing!

Elly McCausland said...

I can barely EXPRESS how much I need this in my life right now. Your photos make it look so appetising!

Anonymous said...

Nice! I make a version on this with lemon zest-sugar-butter filling. It is also incredibly delicious!

pastry studio said...

Thanks, everyone! I've really been enjoying working with yeast dough. I love each stage, especially the aroma that fills the room as it bakes.

And yes, the lemon version is delectable as well!

Unknown said...

I've been waiting all day to have a coffee as this one proofed; it came out great and was just as delicious as hoped for. Thanks for it.

pastry studio said...

Jim, thanks so much for your kind feedback. Glad you were able to enjoy this with your coffee!

Heather said...

Pull apart bread is so amazing, and I am looking forward to trying it with chocolate and cardamom!

s h o k o i s h i k a w a said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe, but the temperature being 350 degree right? My bread burnt after 15min both top and bottom...(my oven is old so not trustworthy though)I'll definitely try again though with lower degrees and I'll personally add sugar in cocoa mix as this was quite bitter.

pastry studio said...

So sorry to hear of your experience, shokoishikawa. A sweet yeast dough is normally baked at 350 - 375 degrees; it's pretty much the standard. What sort of pan did you use? Dark pans or non-stick pans will sometimes produce much darker results.

Did you also see the 1/2 cup of sugar and spices to be sprinkled on top of the cocoa paste and the loaf before baking? Perhaps you want to add more if you prefer sweeter pastries.

In any case, I hope you have a chance to enjoy this with your revisions.

Sarah said...

I served this for brunch yesterday and it was a huge hit. I made it as written, with the addition of orange zest in the sugar mixture. The dough was so soft and fun/easy to work with. Thanks for the recipe--it's a keeper!

pastry studio said...

Wonderful, Sarah, and thanks so much for your feedback. I love this dough - so easy and delicious. And I really like your idea of orange zest in the sugar mixture.