Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf

I got to make a Trader Joe's run this afternoon and lucky me, they had Sky Valley Heirloom Navel Oranges. Of course I bought a bag and ate two of them on the way home. As I did so, I got it in my head to make this pull-apart loaf. Actually, at first they were going to be orange cinnamon rolls, but then I recalled all the Pinterest pics of these pull-apart loaves. (Check out the beautiful loaves on How Sweet It Is--her pics are so much better than mine.)
My goal was to make something that tasted like Pillbury Orange Sweet Rolls, and oh my goodness, I think I did it. I really think the keys to the fabulous orange flavor is the orange zest AND the orange extract. If you're going to do this, be sure to get the orange extract because it ads the extra orange punch you want. Seriously. Do it.
Now, I know the recipe below seems strange. I mean, one Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf and then Dinner Rolls is a strange combo, but I had some leftover Carnitas that I wanted to use for pulled pork buns, and I thought these Basic Bread Dinner Rolls would be perfect. (They were.) 
You can certainly double the pull-apart loaf ingredients and make two pull-apart loaves, but just be sure you have a way to share if you do that. It's super easy to eat way too much of this stuff. It's taking all of my willpower to not pull off a couple of more pieces right now.
The bread is tender but not too soft--the end pieces being crusty, chewy, sugar glazed bites of heaven. The glaze is very orange-y with an extra brightness thanks to the orange zest. Despite all of the glaze, I don't think this loaf is over-the-top sweet. It's very sweet, but in a happily satisfying way. The cinnamon perfectly balances with the orange, allowing the orange be the star flavor.
I plan to make this again for my church small group Saturday. It is this plan that is helping me maintain any sort of self-control. Hopefully I'll get some better pics too.
So here you go. Enjoy.

Orange Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf and Dinner Rolls
      --somewhat inspired by How Sweet It Is

Dough/Roll Ingredients:
Additional Pull-Apart Loaf Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of same orange
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a large bowl, place 2 cups of the flour along with the sugar, yeast, dry milk, and salt. Stir to combine dry ingredients and then break the butter up with your fingers and add to the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and with a spoon or bowl scraper (preferably), mix the water into the dry ingredients. You will have a soupy, lumpy mixture. 
  • Add another cup of flour and mix and chop in the flour. Add another cup of flour, and mix and chop it into the dough. At this point, add another half cup, mixing and chopping the flour in. Dough should be soft, but firm, and only a little sticky, or tacky. If the dough is still rather loose, keep adding flour, a small amount at a time, until it's soft, but firm, and only a little tacky (like I said earlier).
  • Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface. Knead dough by lifting the top up and folding it forward onto itself and press back gently with an open hand. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, and bounces back quickly when gently poked. 
  • Place dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise at room temperature for about an hour, or until puffy and nearly doubled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When dough is done rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat down to deflate, and cut in half. Use a standard loaf pan (9 x 5 inches) for the pull-apart bread, and a standard cake pan for the rolls. Spray your pans with nonstick cooking spray (or, alternately, butter the pans well).
  • To form the rolls, pull the edges of the dough half to the top/center of the dough and pinch to make a dough purse. Flatten into a disk shape and cut into eight equal portions. Take each portion of dough and shape it into a little dough purse. Form each dough purse into a smooth ball. I recommend watching the video in this post to see how to get a smooth ball. Place dough balls in the pan. 
  • For the pull-apart bread, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about 3/8 inch thickness and about 12 x 20 inches in size. Spread melted and cooled butter all over the surface of the dough, right to the edges. Mix cinnamon with the half cup of sugar and sprinkle all over the buttered dough. Cut dough lengthwise in thirds so that you have three long strips. Lay the middle strip on top of one of the sides and then lay the other side piece on top of that. Dough will stretch and deform, just try to make them fit. Once dough is layered, cut into eight somewhat equally sized pieces. Stack up half of the dough and place stacked dough sideways into pan. Stack remaining dough and place in pan.
  • Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 30 minutes at room temperature, until about doubled and puffed.
  • Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, or until outside is a deep golden brown.
  • While bread bakes, make the glaze by mixing together the orange zest and juice, powdered sugar, and orange extract.
  • Remove from oven and then remove the rolls from pan and place on a cooling rack. 
  • Run a knife or spatula around the edge of the pull-apart loaf. Turn out and place right side up on a serving plate or a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Pour glaze all over the loaf, making sure to get every nook and cranny.
  • Serve rolls and loaf hot.

Makes 8 rolls and one pull-apart loaf

It does not look pretty at this stage. Still delish though.

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