Buttery pull-apart bread dresses up dinner

Kim Ode
Star Tribune

Bread may be the staff of life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come in different shapes.

With holidays on the horizon, here’s a buttery pull-apart loaf that will feed a crowd. But it’s also pretty enough to double as a centerpiece — or at least is a lot more eye-catching than some buns in a basket.

Plus, it’s fun to eat, pulling off a portion and unfurling it layer by buttery layer — reminiscent of those irresistibly “grand” biscuits that come in well-known refrigerated blue cardboard tubes.

Are those easier? No question. But holidays are about fussing a bit, and about homemade.

This bread’s design resembles a wreath of rosettes and is best made with a springform pan, although a 10-inch circular cake pan with high sides also will work. There are some steps involving rolling and cutting, but stick with us; we’ll show you how.

Plus, you can make this loaf ahead of time, wrap it well in aluminum foil and freeze it. Let it thaw overnight on the counter, then warm it in the foil before serving.

The key to the rosettes’ tender-crisp flakiness is in rolling five circles of dough, then buttering and layering them like a stack of pancakes. That stack then is rolled and cut into wedges, which then are rolled into cones and arranged in the pan.

Once baked, the outer rosettes form a spiralized border, while the inner rosettes rise like blossoms. The final result is a perfect example of a whole being greater than the sum

Pull-Apart Rosette Loaf

Adapted from bakingwithsibella.com.

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk

4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 egg yolk, plus 2 teaspoons milk

Coarse salt for sprinkling, if desired

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Place milk in a microwave-safe container and warm in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir.

With the mixer on low, slowly add milk to dry ingredients. Add oil. Continue to mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

(If mixing by hand, stir in milk, then oil, until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.)

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 2 to 3 minutes. Clean bowl and coat with oil, then return dough to bowl, turning to coat all surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Turn risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a 10-inch rectangle, then cut into 5 equal (2-inch) pieces. Form each piece into a ball, then cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide room-temperature butter into 4 equal pieces. Set aside.

Coat a 9- to 10-inch springform pan with baking spray. If using a cake pan, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom, then coat with baking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 10-inch circle. If dough wants to pull back on itself, just roll each ball into a 5- to 7-inch circle and set them aside. After a minute, the dough will have relaxed enough so that you can continue rolling each to 10 inches.

Spread 1 circle with 2 tablespoons butter, then put second circle on top, taking care to match the edges. Spread with butter and top with another circle and so on until you end up with the fifth circle on top.

Re-flour the surface, then roll this stack into a 16-inch circle, pausing to make sure that it’s not sticking to the surface and adding more flour when necessary. Occasionally flip the stack; you may see that the layers tend to “slip” a bit, so this step helps keep the stack even around its borders. Don’t fret if they don’t stay exactly even.

With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut about 1 1/2 inches in from the edge of the circle to get a “hoop.” Cut this hoop into 6 equal pieces (just eyeball it). Roll up one strip like a cinnamon bun and place in the center of the pan. Roll the remaining 5 strips and arrange around the center.

Cut the remaining smaller circle into 12 equal triangles (cut into quarters, then each quarter into 3 triangles). Here’s the key step: Roll each triangle to create a cone shape, keeping one long edge even as you roll. (This is different from rolling a croissant shape.) The final shape will resemble a spiral tower.

Place each cone’s flat end flush against the side of the pan, with the point toward the central, or slanted a bit to one side. The main thing is to have the flat edge against the pan’s side.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat the egg yolk and milk until frothy, then brush over the rosettes. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve warm. or at room temperature. Makes 18 servings.

Per serving: 177 calories; 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 46 percent calories from fat); 20 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 25 mg cholesterol; 267 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber.