While cooking, listen to this: You and I - Rick James
I tend to go through phases with things. Like, intense super powerful phases where I listen to the same album or song over and over and over again, or re-watch the same show no matter how many times I’ve already seen it (this seems to run in the family, especially with How I Met Your Mother). I cannot get enough of this one particular thing, and so I don’t, until I feel ready to move onto the next thing. It can be a restaurant, a nail polish, a podcast, anything. It’s part of the reason why I don’t go near hard drugs - I don’t know if there’s an actual correlation there, but I’m not testing it out.
I’m not prepared to say that I could be found every day of a particular month in the same cafe listening to the same John Mayer album ordering the same cappucino and the same croissant.
I’m also not prepared to say that I couldn’t.
Creature of habit? Control freak? Unclear! But I like the way I am and this is how it goes.
This behavior also applies to what I cook. When I learn to make something new, sometimes I get very into it. Like, will only make that thing-level of into it. It literally just happened last week - we made crispy rice bowls less than two weeks ago and I’ve already made them two more times. It happens with salads, pasta, quesadillas, you name it. I like to know what to expect, and if the expectation is a quesadilla the size of my face or a salad I could take a nap in, all the better.
After I made vegan cinnamon rolls for the first time, I was hooked. I gained a lot of confidence making the dough correctly, and wanted to see what else I could do with it. After making the cinnamon rolls a couple more times and pawning them off to friends, I decided to try out pull-apart bread. I grew up eating these things called tear-aways which are basically mini pull-apart breads from a Jewish bakery called Zeman’s and was OBSESSED. They’re these muffin-sized rolls that are pieces of flaky bread squished together and I guess they’re kind of like those Pillsbury rolls but they are also so much better than that.
I used all the same ingredients as the cinnamon rolls but cut the dough into squares instead of rolls and stacked them in a loaf pan and IT WORKED. AND IT WAS AMAZING.
So what did I do? Made two more, duh.
I made a funfetti version and an apricot version, and another batch of cinnamon rolls because I need help, and brought them all to an event I was staffing with the teens I supervised at the time. They were all devoured in a flash, the mark of any winning recipe. Or hungry teens. Or both.
I don’t know how the idea for this particular pull-apart bread popped into my head, but I’m really glad it did because it’s very extra but very delicious. It’s kind of like if cinnamon toast crunch were also chocolate and also turned into a baked good and I don’t understand how that could possibly be bad. It’s sweet, it’s soft but also has this unreal buttery graham cracker crunch thing on top, and it is FULL OF NUTELLA. HI.
The recipe is a bit time consuming but only because it has to rise twice - it’s very easy and you can totally do it and if you want to make four more I am the last one to judge you. It would be a lovely way to spend your afternoon while listening to Lizzo for the hundredth time.
Love and meows, Rina
CINNAMON NUTELLA CRUNCH PULL APART BREAD
Yield: 1 loaf-sized pull-apart bread
Active Cook Time: 20m | Inactive Cook Time: 2h 45m | Total Cook Time: 3h 5m
Category: Baked, Sweet
Source: dough from Minimalist Baker
Special Equipment: loaf pan, food processor (optional), pizza cutter or long sharp knife
2 packets instant yeast (4 ½ teaspoon)
2 cups unsweetened plain soy or almond milk
1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter, divided (we like Earth Balance but choose your favorite)
½ teaspoon salt
6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla OR 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
7-8 ounces nutella
graham cracker crunch:
6 ounces graham crackers (1 sleeve, usually)
3 Tablespoons sugar
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Prepare the yeast "bath": I like to think of this step as a bath for the yeast to get all cozy in. Place the milk and 6 tablespoons of butter into a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. Keep an eye on this mixture - you want it to be warm enough to melt the butter, but not so warm that the milk starts to simmer. Once the butter is totally melted, take off of the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Cool mixture: Let the mixture cool down until it's at a temperature you would want your bath water to be. Not too hot, otherwise you'll kill the yeast, but warm enough to activate it.
Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture: Once the milk-butter mixture is cool enough, sprinkle the yeast overtop and let stand for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar, the vanilla and the salt into the mixture and whisk.
Add the flour: Add the flour ½ cup at a time, and after each ½ cup stir until the flour is just incorporated. I have never used all 6 cups of flour before, but this will totally depend on your climate and altitude. I also always end up using my hands to combine the last cup or so of flour, but you can use a stirring utensil and some elbow grease. Once the dough forms into a loose ball (it will be sticky!), you can stop adding flour.
Flour your surface and knead the dough: Knead the dough a few times and form it into a ball. Wash the mixing bowl you made the dough in (or use a new bowl, you do you), spray it with some cooking spray and place your dough ball inside. Cover well and place in a warm spot for an hour, or until your dough has doubled in size.
Make the graham cracker crunch: using a food processor or your anger, pulverize the graham crackers until you have pieces the size of small peas with lots of crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add the melted butter, sugar and salt. Stir well - you should end up with cute tiny nuggets.
Baking prep: preheat the oven to 350 F and butter up a 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pan (9 x 5 works, too).
Roll and fill the dough: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a thin rectangle. The thinner your dough is, the more layers you'll get. See the pictures above for how thin your dough should be. Spread all of the nutella onto the surface in a thin, even layer - it might take some work since nutella is thick but it’ll get there. Sprinkle on some cinnamon as well.
Cut, stack and proof the dough: a pizza cutter works best here but you can also use a sharp knife. Cut the dough into 6 vertical strips, then cut 6 more times horizontally to make squares. Make a stack of 6 squares and carefully place into the loaf pan. Do this with the remaining squares - you might have to shove them in closer to the end. You’re also going to be covered in nutella, so you’re welcome. Sprinkle the graham cracker crunch all over the top. Cover again and allow to rise for 30 minutes. This thing is going to be MASSIVE - we put ours on a baking tray for any potential fallen bits.
Bake: stick in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating half-way during baking. Check the center for doneness - it should be gooey inside but not completely doughy. I took ours out after 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before digging in.
To keep: this dough doesn’t stay super fresh for very long, so it should be eaten within a couple of days. Cover tightly or stick in a zippered plastic bag if you must, but this will be gone day-of, guaranteed.