Pull apart bread, I could write odes of love to thee. In fact, I could write a book of sonnets about my love of buttery bread held together by cheese, and in this case, cured meats. The way the dough pulls apart into lovely pieces bearing both crispy browned edges and soft, pillowy luxurious insides.
Up until recently I had always made lazy pull apart bread- cut up instant biscuits dipped in butter and tossed with cheese and garlic and whatever other tasty bites I felt like throwing in. But this weekend I decided to go all out and make the dough myself.
Boy, was it worth the effort. This dough was lovely, light and fluffy on the inside and crisp and crunchy on the edges, with a lovely herb-y taste. Asiago isn't a big melting cheese, but the cheese in between the slices did become soft and gooey, while the cheese on the top became crispy and toasty.
I expected to find standing all the dough strips up and keeping them together while I cut more to be tough, but they stood up pretty darn well on their own, and didn't lose too much of their filling either. Also, this dough was the absolute perfect amount to fill my loaf pan, so that was wonderful.
Is there anything really so delicious as bread with cheese? Well, I suppose there is bread with cheese and meat, which is which is even better, so I included prosciutto in this recipe. I love prosciutto on pizza, and this is a bit like a sauceless, stacked up pizza, so I suspected it would be delicious, and it was.
The meat adds a little salty, smoky bite as you nibble your way through each slice, and the pieces of prosciutto that ended up on top are lovely and crispy and crunchy and perfect. Like well done bacon, only drier and more Italian.
This is definitely a dish to serve piping hot. Ideally, you want to burn your fingers a little bit as you pull the bread apart, for optimal warm and melty bread bites, and because it's next-to-impossible to wait for this to cool once you take it out of the oven and get a whiff of how delicious it is.
This would make a appetizer worth filling up on, or you could pass it around at dinner in place of plain old rolls, at a potluck you could pop it back in the hosts oven briefly than knock everyone's socks off with its herb covered splendor. Or, if you're like me, it makes a delicious snack for three hungry twenty-somethings on a chilly Sunday afternoon.
Rosemary, Prosciutto, and Asiago Pull Apart Bread
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 C minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp melted butter
2 Minced garlic cloves
1/3 C Minced rosemary (and other herbs, if you'd like)
1 C grated asiago cheese
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
Hefty pinch salt & pepper
In a large bowl, combine warm water and sugar, stir briefly, then sprinkle yeast over top. Cover with a towel and let sit 5 minutes, until yeast has become foamy.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and rosemary. Mix well. After yeast has foamed up, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing after each, then stir with a wooden spoon until dough begins to form.
Dump dough out onto a floured surface and kneed 5-8 minutes, until an elastic, not too sticky dough forms. Lightly oil the bowl with 1 tbsp melted butter. Put the dough ball in the oiled bowl, cover, and let sit somewhere warm for an hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
Grease a loaf pan with melted butter or oil.
After dough has risen, punch it down, then turn out dough onto a floured surface, divide dough in half, and roll out one half at a time. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Brush dough with half the 4 tbsp melted butter, then cover with half the grated cheese, half the minced garlic, and half the fresh herbs.
Using a pizza or crust cutter, cut the dough into 3" X 4" rectangles, then stack up the dough squares, and stand them on their side in the greased loaf pan.
Repeat the rolling out, buttering, and covering of cheese, garlic, and herbs with the second piece of dough, cut it into the same size squares, and stand them in the loaf pan.
Sprinkle any herbs and cheese that may have fallen out over the top of the pan. Allow the dough to rise in the pan for another 30 minutes.
Towards the end of the final rising time preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake bread for 20-30 minutes, until the edges are a lovely rich golden brown.
Allow to cool for 3 minutes, then carefully remove from pan. Serve immediately and enjoy!