As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
“a rich bread dough that hides delicious treats between its slices”
Nothing goes better on a cold evening than an apple pie pull-apart bread. All the ingredients used for making the bread have this soft autumn vibe to them, which makes you appreciate this sweet treat even more. I’m feeling mellow just thinking of the last time I tasted it, so trust me when I say, the effort is worth it! Of course, you can cut the cooking time significantly by simply buying bread biscuits, but I found that sweet homemade bread dough is so much more delicious and takes this favorite to a whole other level! I’m saying this because I was using biscuits too until I found a recipe on Just A Little Bit Of Bacon, which is where I got the inspiration for my version of the apple pie pull-apart bread!
I used bourbon-soaked cherries and boiled apple slices as the main flavors for the amazing filling that will make this bread incredibly moist. Plus, if you’re a fan of the sweet but potent fragrance of vanilla and nutmeg, you’ll especially enjoy the glaze.
So, without further ado, let’s get cooking!
First, things first, you’ll need three or four mixing bowls, mixer, loaf pan, saucepan, microwave-safe bowl, and around an hour to spare to make this tasty bread, with a total cooking time of two hours. It’s worth mentioning that instead of instant yeast, I used sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and lemon juice, so I didn’t have to wait for the dough to rise. However, if you want to be more traditional and use yeast then go ahead, I’m just here to remind you that in that case, you should let the dough rise for an hour.
What I first like to do is let the cherries soak in the bourbon, so they’re ready by the time I need to use them. Once you put that aside, you can focus on making the bread dough.
Combine the warm milk and sugar in a large mixing bowl. After the sugar dissolves, stir in the eggs, flour, salt, and the soda bicarbonate with lemon juice. Mix the ingredients until they’re completely fused and the batter is smooth. Add the butter and continue to beat it for a minute or two. Then, transfer the dough on a floured surface and knead 8-9 minutes. You can add a little bit of flour so that the batter isn’t sticky. When you’re done, leave the batter to rest in a greased bowl while you make the filling.
To make the filling you’ll need a microwave-safe bowl. If you don’t have a microwave, don’t worry, because you can also use the stove. If the filling needs 2-3 minutes in the microwave, you’ll need around 10 minutes on the stove. Simply multiply the microwave time by 4x for stove-top cooking and you’re all set.
So, combine all of the ingredients for the filling, except for the cherries and bourbon, in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid and microwave for 2-3 minutes on medium heat (50% power). Check whether the apples are soft and the sugar is completely dissolved. If not, microwave for another minute. Mix the ingredients, then scoop up the apple pieces and set them aside in another bowl or plate. Drain the cherries and add them to the bowl with the apple pieces. Pour the bourbon in the microwave-safe bowl and let the mixture microwave for another two minutes. Finally, you can combine the apples, cherries with the microwaved mixture. Stir well, then set aside.
It’s time to go back to our bread dough. First, take a loaf pan and line in with parchment paper. After this, spray or brush the paper with cooking oil to prepare the loaf for the bread slices. Now is also a good time to preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), so it’s ready when you’re done building the bread. How to do this?
Well, take the bread dough and roll it out on a board. The dough sheet shouldn’t be very thick as it will rise while it bakes. Roll it until it gets to around 5 mm to 1 cm (or about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) and then cut it in about 20 equal squares. The best way to do this is to make one large rectangle of the dough, cut it in six strips, and then cut the strips into 4 equal squares. This will be enough to fill a 9×5 inch loaf. You can adjust if your loaf is smaller or bigger.
Take a spoon of the filling and spread over each of the dough slices. Then, take slice by slice and place them one against each other in the loaf. Another way to approach this is to add a slice to the loaf, spread filling on the side, and then immediately stick another dough slice until you build the bread. Whichever method works for you better, that’s the right one. Part of the filling will fall either way, so I simply scoop it up and pour it over the bread.
Once the bread is built you can place it in the preheated oven to bake for one hour. However, it’s a good practice to take it out halfway through and cover it with aluminum foil, then let it bake for another 30 minutes. This is because the aluminum foil prevents it from drying out and makes the bread so much moister. Although, if you like it a little more crispy and dry, you can skip this!
Another step you can skip, which I argue against, is the glaze which enhances the sweetness and beautifully contrasts the tart flavor of the apples and cherries. Plus, it’s effortless to make.
Simply, heat the cider over medium heat until it reaches a boiling point. Cook for 10 minutes and let it cool. After this, combine all the other ingredients for the glaze and whisk by hand or use an immersion blender until you get a smooth blend. Finally, add the cider and mix it again – that’s it! I recommend starting this about 15 to 20 minutes before the bread’s baking time is over.
When cooking is complete, take the bread out of the oven, pour the glaze over it, and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. After this, serve and enjoy!
For the bread dough:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup warm milk
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda mixed with ½ tsp lemon juice
- A pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 3 medium tart apples (peeled and chopped)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ½ cup of sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- A pinch of salt
(Optional) For the glaze:
- 1 cup apple cider
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, soak the cherries in bourbon and set them aside.
- Take a large mixing bowl and combine the warm milk and sugar. Stir in the flour, salt, eggs, and the bicarbonate of soda with lemon juice. Stir for a minute or two, then add the butter. Beat until smooth. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-9 minutes. When finished, grease a bowl with butter, place the dough into the bowl. Set it aside.
- Take a microwave-safe bowl and combine the rest of the ingredients for the filling – 3 peeled and chopped apples, unsalted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid and place it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on medium heat (50% power). Check if the apples are soft. Take a slotted spoon and scoop out the apples into a different bowl. Drain the cherries and add the bourbon into the remaining blend. Bring the bowl back to the microwave and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Take a large bowl and combine the apples, cherries, and the microwaved blend together.
- Line your non-stick loaf pan with parchment paper and then spray it with cooking oil.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C to 350 °F.
- Roll the bread dough on a board and cut it into 20 squares.
- Spoon the filling in the center of each square and spread out.
- Place each slice of bread into the loaf pan, one against each other to build the pull-apart bread. If the filling falls, scoop it with a spoon and pour it over the bread.
- Bake the bread for 1 hour. Take it out after 30 minutes, cover it with aluminum foil, then let it bake for another 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, take a small saucepan and boil the cider. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Let it cool. Take a bowl and whisk or use an immersion blender to mix the rest of the ingredients for the topping. Add the cider and stir until smooth.
- When baking is complete, take out the bread and pour the topping over. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.