College friends disperse. High school friends fade. Middle school friends were a flux at the mercy of fickle times! Elementary school kids are distant memories of Ninja Turtle sweatsuits. Toddlerhood and babyhood friends? Those are usually just arranged “friendships,” but oddly enough, one of the girls from my toddler days has stayed in my life through all the forks in the friendship road. When we come together, it’s as if we never have parted.
In my case, the little girl from the green house remained a friend long after we both left the neighborhood that brought us together. A lot of time had escaped us since our last visit, so we planned a brunch to remedy the passing of time. I’d spied this pull apart bread on Joy the Baker‘s bright, sunny side of the blogosphere. A visit from a longtime friend was the perfect occasion to pull apart layers of freshly baked bread while reminiscing through the many layers of our friendship.
I like to fiddle with cinnamon roll fillings. Since this bread is much like slicing through a cinnamon roll, my gears were turning. What to discover between the cinnamony layers? My minty green kitchen answered the question for me. Aha! Perched atop the shelf was a jar containing dried cranberries and cherries, soaking up a good ol’ dose of Wild Turkey Bourbon. This friend of mine is a Southerner [in the making] after all!
Bourbon Between Bread
(Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread)
Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf
3/4 cup all natural, dried cranberries and dried cherries
Wild Turkey Bourbon
For the Bourbon Berries
Put the dried cranberries and cherries in a container with a lid, such as a mason jar. Add enough bourbon to cover the berries. Let soak until the berries have rehydrated and plumped. Reserve whatever liquid and berries remain after assembling the berry layer of the bread.
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 organic lemon, zested
1 Tablespoon freshly ground ginger
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
1/3 cup organic whole milk
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon Wild Turkey
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure cocoa
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
For the Bread
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, lemon zest and ginger. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter, until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water, vanilla extract and whiskey. Let mixture stand for a minute or two to cool slightly.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.
Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.
Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.
Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If using this method, let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa for the filling. Set aside.
Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside.
Lightly grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and line with a sheet of parchment paper.
Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 Tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long or thereabouts.
Use a pastry brush to spread browned butter across the dough. Sprinkle with all of the cinnamon mixture.
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.
Spread the bourbon berries over every other strip.
Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again (six stacks of six squares).
Squish the dough squares in the loaf pan.
Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well. If you have a lid for your loaf pan, it will help prevent the top from burning. You could also use tinfoil for most of the baking time.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Use the parchment paper to pull out the loaf and transfer to a plate.
Slice and serve with bourbon buttercream!
Berried Bourbon Buttercream
1 package of organic Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup bright yellow Irish butter, at room temperature
2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2-3 Tablespoons bourbon reserved from Bourbon Berries*
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer or food processor to beat until smooth.
Dollop onto the pull apart bread!
Then go ahead and pull that bread apart!
Stay tuned for the rest of my brunch with my babyhood friend!