Foodiva's Kitchen: Pull-Apart Tomato Bread with Feta, Garlic and Herb Filling

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pull-Apart Tomato Bread with Feta, Garlic and Herb Filling

Our Brunei Armed Forces turns 50 years old today. It is older than our independent country, which is only 27. Yes, we are a young country... I was born when we were not yet completely autonomous and free. To celebrate the military's Golden Anniversary as well as honor the selfless men and women who have served to protect and maintain peace for this country, I'm going to bake something special today.

Pull-apart bread...I've been seeing a lot of them around lately - being written about, baked and I presume, eaten. What's going on? Is there a secret that bakers are revelling in which I'm totally clueless about? Those breads that I've seen via my computer screen sure do look good. My blogger friends, Nancy (Spicie Foodie), Gina (SPCookieQueen) and Lora (Cake Duchess) have all recently made their own versions of pull-apart bread. And then there were also several others' take on it that I dare to imagine this style of bread becoming the newest rage in baking. Step aside, macaron. Go on..scoot over, cake-pop. Your time is up. Pull-apart bread's here and it's going to rip our world! Pun intended, of course.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and set out to discover the joys of what is essentially bread slices that are stuck together while they are being baked, only to be ripped apart slice by slice while they are being eaten. There's something quite primordial about this whole process, and the ripping apart ritual somehow appeals to my young-ish soul.

Nigella seeds

Okay, I'm going to warn you.... this post has almost as many pictures as there are words. Maybe I'm sold on that old adage, 'A picture paints a thousand words', or maybe I'm just not really in a writing mood today. Luckily, I'm in a (camera) trigger-happy mood.

Bread filling: Purple basil, oregano, thyme, garlic and Feta cheese

So let me just say these few things about my pull-apart bread:
  • I couldn't sleep last night thinking about this bread.
  • It's tomato-flavored and has spiral-patterns inside.
  • The plain dough contains Nigella seeds that taste a bit like spring onions.
  • It has a salty, cheesy (Feta), garlicky and herb-y filling.
  • It is baked in a round, flower-shaped silicon-mold that makes the bread look pretty even when it's turned upside-down.
  • It is utterly delicious and a joy to rip apart.
  • Now I know why everyone's gone gaga over pull-apart bread. This goes off to Yeastspotting so more people can enjoy it!
Okay, 'nuff said already. Enjoy the step-by-step:
Wrap the plain dough in the tomato dough, turn over and flatten with a rolling pin
Roll the flattened rectangle into a cylinder, slice into 12 pieces, flatten into discs and fill with garlic+cheese+herbs
Fold disc over the filling and press edges with a fork to seal (I used a lemon zester). Arrange dough slices in a fan pattern inside a deep, round baking pan.
Spiral patterns on dough slices
Brush tops with eggwash and bake until golden.

Even the bottom of the bread looks pretty
 Don't skimp on the filling! It has to be this luscious...
Rip away and feel the joy

PS. A sweet version of this bread will be making an appearance soon. I guess that's just the way I live my life ;-).

Pull-Apart Tomato Bread with Feta, Garlic and Herb Filling
Plain Dough
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Nigella seeds
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon extra flour, for kneading

Tomato Dough
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce/puree
1-2 tablespoons extra flour, for kneading

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk

1. For both the tomato and plain doughs, stir in the sugar and yeast into the lukewarm water (separately) and leave to foam for about 5-10 minutes.
2. Make the plain dough first. Mix the flour, salt and Nigella seeds in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the foamy yeast solution and milk. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough becomes pliable and is non-sticky. Add the extra flour as necessary to achieve this texture. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl, leave to proof in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
3. For the tomato dough, mix the flour and salt, make a well in the centre and add the foamy yeast solution and tomato sauce. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough becomes pliable and non-sticky. Add the extra flour as necessary. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl, leave to proof in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. 10 minutes before baking time, preheat your oven to 200C/350F.
(Note: My friend Gina pointed me to this proofing tip, ie. microwave 2 cups of water for 5 minutes, then leave the dough bowls in the microwave with the cups. The steam and warm environment in there will expedite the proofing process. It actually works!)
4. Roll out the tomato dough into a rough rectangle about 10x8-in. Wrap the plain dough ball inside the tomato dough. Turn over, so the sealed side is at the bottom. Flatten out the dough again with a rolling pin and roll carefully out into a 12x10-in rectangle. Take the long-side and roll into a cylinder. Slice the cylinder into 12 even pieces. The ends will tend to be smaller but you can use these to fill in the gaps later.
5. Take a piece of cut dough and with the cut-side down, roll out into a disc. Take a spoonful of filling, place on one half of the disc and fold the other dough half over it. Press lightly to seal, then take a fork and press down along the edges firmly. Repeat with the other dough pieces.
6. Arrange filled slices in a well-buttered baking pan, in a fan pattern of lined upright against one another. Leave to rise again for another 20 minutes.
7. Mix the egg and milk and brush tops with the eggwash. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Leave it to cool for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.


penny aka jeroxie said...

What a unique bread! Will have to try and bake this when my hand gets better.

art is in the kitchen said...

What fun bread to make Maya! A fabulous item to bring to a picnic. Looks like a curry puff bouquet for the picking! I am definitely going to surprise everyone with your new delectable parcel Idea. Simply brilliant!!!

Unknown said...

Penny, I'm sure you'll enjoy putting this bread together and baking it. And I'm pretty sure Mister will enjoy taking it all apart again after it's cooked! LOL. Hope your arm gets better soon, we miss your baking.

Unknown said...

Arthur, I just love the way you described it... a curry puff bouquet for the picking! What an apt description, as artistic as you are ;-). Now I can't get that imagery out of my mind...haha.

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing pull-apart bread on the blogosphere, but yours looks like one of the best! Your flavor combination sounds heavenly. Can't wait to try it!

Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

The way you rolled those disks is amazing, like I haven't seen it before, and the filling is pretty unique as well! Great recipe, thank you!

Unknown said...

@yummychunklet, see what I mean? Pull-apart bread = Trendy, hip baking! Got to move with the times, babey! Btw, thanks...your comment is so sweet ;-).

Unknown said...

Alina, it's an adaptation of a baking technique with flaky pastries I normally use. I've done spiral curry puffs (or empanadas) and ravioli this way and have posted the technique. If you're interested, I'll email you the links. Try it, it's really fun to do!

Erin said...

Holy cow - this looks good! This is the latest thing - there are so many ways to make pull apart bread. Your filling sounds wonderful!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Erin. I've just hopped over to your site and I must say that your family's eating really, really well with all those yummy recipes you're cooking up! Appreciate you stopping by, come back often ;-).

spcookiequeen said...

Your killing me with this one! I did like my version but I'm a little jealous of yours, you used way more cheese than me, I love that. I have to make another one of these, I love that mold you used. At least we are keeping the kitchen stores afloat, lol. Hope you enjoyed your weekend. Thanks for the mention.

Unknown said...

Gina, I'm waaay too chicken to work with sourdough so I try to avoid it whenever I can. I think you're either very brave or patient, or maybe both! If I had to wait 10 days to use the starter, I'd be tearing my hair out....LOL.

Ok, what I'm trying to say is, I'm envious of your sourdough version too!

Kate@Diethood said...

There's feta in there?!?! YES, please let me have a loaf! This looks beautiful!

Raji said...

Oh..I am just drooling over your beautiful bread..looks so gorgeous and I can just imagine the taste of feta with tomatoes..mmmm..kudos Maya.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

That is the coolest bread since, well, slice bread. So clever and what a favor combo you chose. First I hear of this bread and cannot wait to see your sweet version!

Nancy said...

Maya, I knew when you said you were going to make a pull-apart bread that it would be rocking! I love your version, the swirls, the filling all of it is just perfect. I just had to add it to the links of other pull-apart breads on my post. Perhaps you are right about pull-apart bread being the next rage in baking :)

Thanks for the mention and for being a part of the YBR this month:)

Torviewtoronto said...

yummy savoury bread deliciously done

Sandra said...

Maya this is wonderful..I saw it on all three blogs and yours is awesome too! I love the filling..ohh my I wouldn't get up from the table until I finish this bread hahaha...

the [sugar] apothecary said...

You never cease to amaze me :) I can only imagine how amazing it must smell! It looks like a lot of work but it's got to be oh-so worth it. You just can't go wrong with anything called "tomato dough"!

Christine's Pantry said...

Great recipe! Love bread!

Baker by Nature said...

I want to pull this bread apart and shove it in my face right now.

Wow, graphic... sorry.

Looks so savory and fun to make.

Unknown said...

Evelyne@Cheap Ethnic Eatz, yes it is the coolest! I like the no-need-to-slice convenience and in this case, the filling too ;-). Still brainstorming on the sweet flavor!

Unknown said...

Nancy@Spicie Foodie, thanks so much for adding the link! Really appreciate it. Whether it's the new rage or not, I think I've fallen for filled pull-apart bread!

Unknown said...

Little Miss Cupcake, you are too cute! LOL, thanks.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Oh wow... Maya! This is amazing! Such a detail work! I love it! It looks a lot more time-consuming but the result shows how beautiful this bread is! Well done!

Unknown said...

Nami, it's not very hard to do at all! In fact, it's quite relaxing..all that rolling and kneading and time flies when you're having fun, right? ;-) This is a great activity to do with your two little cute helpers, btw, they will love it!

Anonymous said...

Warm bread on a cool spring am sounds perfect to me, this looks mouthwatering, I'm a huge tomat fan to boot. I have never heard of Nigella seeds, so I must go google them now..brb = )

Seriously this bread is the best thing since.. um.. Sliced bread?

Magic of Spice said...

Just look at that filling! This is a gorgeous pull apart bread, just amazing :)

Anonymous said...

This is some absolutely gorgeous bread. Great job!

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Another phenomenal recipe. I love warm feta and that bread with the tomato looks like pure palate perfection!

Unknown said...

Elle Marie, haha, sliced bread is so yesterday... :-). Let's get on the pull-apart bread wagon!

Unknown said...

Alisha@Magic of Spice, thank you. With that amount of filling, you can just eat this bread on its own and it's still very yummy!

Victoria said...

I love this new trend! I haven't noticed it quite as much as you have, but it's something I can fully support :) These flavors look fantastic!

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