Butterflake Herb Loaf, our March 2017 Bakealong challenge, introduced readers to a pull-apart loaf that, unlike the more typical monkey bread, comes apart in a series of flat slabs, each one generously infused with butter, garlic and herbs.
Since it’s one of our more popular Bakealong recipes, we’ve decided to bring it back — but not before browsing through reader comments, both here in the blog and on the recipe itself.
As a result, I’ve picked up a couple of easily applied flavor twists to this popular recipe:
“I have used this recipe twice now. The first time, I used cinnamon and sugar in the circles. The kids loved it. The second time, I decided to stuff it with pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and brush the circles with pizza sauce. It was a huge hit! I will be using this over and over with different ingredients.” – Rene Jones, Lufkin, Texas
Butterflake Herb Loaf: from savory to sweet and back again
I’ve riffed on Rene’s sweet filling to make a Butterscotch Cinnamon Loaf. And followed her suggestions for Pepperoni Pizza Loaf.
Now, what about [Your Favorite Flavor Combination] Loaf? Hey, when it comes to fillings for this wonderfully versatile pull-apart bread, your imagination and creativity should know no bounds.Make it savory. Make it sweet. This tender pull-apart yeast loaf has multiple taste-tempting personalities. Click To Tweet
Simplified shaping saves time
Reading through the recipe’s reviews, I also harvested a time-saving, dough-maximizing shaping tip:
“OUTSTANDING! The next time I make this, I’m going to dispense with the round cutter and roll all of the dough into a large rectangle, spread filling in the middle half, fold the edges to the center, cut it in half down the center, between the edges, then cut each long envelope of dough and goodness into loaf pan-sized pieces. I think a pizza cutter will do the trick.” Judy — DeWitt, Iowa
The original recipe directs you to use a 3 1/2″ round cutter to cut, butter, and fold individual pieces of dough. This works fine; but it’s somewhat time-consuming, and you end up with leftover dough scraps.
So I follow Judy’s advice and simply roll the dough out, fill half, fold the bare side over the filled side, and cut 3″ slices to nestle in the bottom of my loaf pan. Quick, easy, and no leftover scraps. Judy, you rock!
Tangzhong for texture
Finally, some reviews express disappointment in the bread’s texture, noting its center might be a bit dry, its top crust too hard.
We can fix that!
I made the Butterflake Herb Loaf dough using the tangzhong method (a technique that cooks some of the recipe’s flour and liquid into a thick slurry before using). This added moisture to the bread, softening its interior.
As for the hard crust, I found that brushing the loaf, hot from the oven, with garlic oil (pizza loaf) or a thin vanilla glaze (butterscotch loaf) seemed to allay the issue.
Ready to give these new filling ideas a try?
First, make the Butterflake Herb Loaf dough; use the tangzhong option listed in “baker’s tips” at the bottom of the recipe. Let the dough go through its first rise (the one in the bowl).
Gently deflate the dough and pre-shape it into a rough rectangle, about 6″ x 10″ or so. Place it on a lightly greased work surface, and cover it with a piece of parchment or plastic.
Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes; this short break will give the gluten a chance to relax, making rolling much easier.
Roll it out
Pat/roll the dough into a generous 8″ x 21″ rectangle. I say generous because the dough will shrink a bit after you’ve finished rolling (that’s the gluten being stubborn again), and 8″ x 21″ is your desired final size.
The recipe makes two loaves. I’m making two different fillings, so I divide the dough in half lengthwise. (If you prefer to make just one filling, the same for both loaves, don’t divide the dough; follow Judy’s directions above for filling and shaping.)
First filling: pepperoni pizza. I brush the dough with pizza sauce, then layer it with sliced pepperoni and shredded mozzarella.
In retrospect, I’d use sliced mozzarella; the fine shreds weren’t substantial enough to give you the typical ooze and melt of mozzarella atop a pizza.
Fold the dough over on itself lengthwise; you’ll have a log about 2″ wide by 21″ long.
Fold and slice
Cut the log into 3″ pieces. If any of the filling falls out, just stuff it back in.
Nestle the dough “sandwiches” side by side, open ends up, in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.
Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap — or even better, tent it with a shower cap — while you prepare your next loaf.
I smear the second piece of dough with soft butter (you could also use melted butter) and sprinkle it heavily with cinnamon-sugar. Then I scatter about 1/3 cup butterscotch chips lengthwise along half the dough.
Fold it over on itself, cut 3″ pieces…
…and place them in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. If any sugar or chips escape during the cutting process, scrape them up and sprinkle them atop the loaf.
Cover the pan.
Let the loaves rise
Let both loaves rise for about 90 minutes, or until they’re noticeably puffy.
Neither will crown above the rim of the pan; that’s fine.
About 20 minutes before the loaves will be ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bake until golden
Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting them with foil after about 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. A digital thermometer inserted into the bread portion of a fully baked loaf should read between 185°F and 190°F.
I brush the sweet loaf with a simple crunchy sugar glaze: Mix 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon water, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring to combine. The sugar won’t fully dissolve, but the mixture should be liquid and brushable.
I brush the pizza loaf with garlic oil.
Turn the loaves onto a rack
I turn both loaves out of the pan onto a rack within a couple of minutes of taking them out of the oven; loosen the edges with a table knife first. The sweet loaf can tend to stick due to melted sugar; but if you get it out of the pan soon enough, no harm done.
I’m telling you, this loaf is heaven on earth: tender bread laced with soft butterscotch chips, oozing melted cinnamon-sugar. Crunchy bits of caramelized sugar on the sides and bottom of the loaf provide some nice textural contrast.
And the pizza bread: yes, please and thank you.
After initially enjoying a taste of each hot from the oven — divine, of course — I sample them later at room temperature. Still darned good. And the next day, again at room temperature: still moist, tender, and absolutely delicious.
At that point my husband ran off with both loaves to feed his fellow Audubon wildlife sanctuary volunteers.
But I suspect they would have remained temptingly soft for at least another day. Thanks, tangzhong! And thank you Butterflake Herb Loaf, the reliable starting point for these tantalizing takeoffs.
Be sure to check out our original Butterflake Herb Loaf Bakealong blog post, where you’ll find lots of good information and step-by-step photos for preparing the dough.