Delicious warm, Maple Butter Pull-Apart Bread, filled with homemade maple butter (don't worry, it's super easy to make!)
Yes, it's time for another addition of weekend baking! I know some of you are already enjoying wonderful weather, but around here, we're still waiting for the last of our snow to melt. So I'm still in the weekend baking mood.
I live in a beautiful area of central Ontario, where there are towering pines, hundreds of lakes and massive granite outcrops dotting the landscape. There's also quite a few maple trees, so making maple syrup is definitely a thing around here. Spring and maple syrup just go together.
One of my favourite things to make when my supply of maple syrup is refreshed each Spring, is to make Maple Butter. I make it the easy way, by boiling down the maple syrup, melting butter in to it and then beating it until it's the consistency of creamed honey. It's fabulous and definitely one of those things you could find yourself sneaking a spoonful of here and there. It's also dead easy to make as long as you have a candy thermometer. To get the right consistency, you need to boil the maple syrup to the soft-ball stage (240° F.) and there just isn't a reliable way to guess when you've reached that point.
Today I decided that a pull-apart bread with some maple butter just had to happen. It's a basic pull-apart bread, with a spread of maple butter as the filling and a topping of maple sugar (or you could use regular sugar). To top it off, I warmed a few tablespoons of maple butter and drizzled it over the top. It was divine. Served warm, it's the perfect way to celebrate Spring's bounty.
Cook's Notes for Maple Butter Pull-Apart Bread
If you prefer, you could also make this bread with maple sugar, by spreading the dough with a layer of butter, then sprinkling with maple sugar. I do know that maple sugar isn't always easy to find though. Both would be nice, because maple anything is never going to disappoint.
One tip to share - definitely place your loaf pan on top of a foil-lined baking sheet. This one will bubble up and over the sides a bit (and why I didn't see that coming is completely beyond me, since, you know ... it's not my first rodeo :) And so it was that the lovely smell of warm maple in my house this morning was rudely interrupted by the smell of burnt sugar on the bottom of my oven. You definitely don't want that!
As a bonus ... you'll have a nice little bit of maple butter left-over after you make this bread. Enjoy! It's perfect on toast or warm a bit and drizzle over ice cream.
Maple Butter Pull-Apart Bread
For the bread:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp fine salt (use 3/4 tsp. if using salted butter)
- 3/4 cup whole milk (warmed to lukewarm)
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought maple butter (*alternately, you could use a maple sugar/butter filling)
- 1 Tbsp maple sugar (or regular white or brown sugar, for topping before baking)
- 2 Tbsp maple butter (warmed to thin, for drizzle)
For the Homemade Maple Butter:
- 1 cup maple syrup (preferably No. 2 Medium/Amber grade)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (cut in to cubes)
- *Candy thermometer
- To make the maple butter: In a medium-large saucepan, add maple syrup and pinch of salt. Heat maple syrup over high heat until boiling (*be sure to use a large-ish pan, as syrup will boil up about double or more). Attach or insert thermometer and boil until syrup reaches 240° Immediately remove from heat and stir in butter until it’s completely melted.
- Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or alternately, use a large bowl with a hand mixer. Start on low speed and gradually increase speed until you reach high. Continue to beat on high until mixture is lightened and creamy, about 8-10 minutes total. Mixture should be the consistency of a creamy caramel sauce. Pour into a jar or bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- For the bread: Grease an 8 1/2x4-inch loaf pan and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- (*If using traditional dry active yeast, proof the yeast in your warm milk, rather than adding with the flour). In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook, add 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and salt. Heat the milk to lukewarm in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Add the maple syrup and melted butter and stir to combine. Stir in the egg (*make sure your mixture isn't so hot it might cook the egg!). Add this mixture to the bowl with the flour and mix to combine.
- Start adding flour 1/4 cup at a time at first and then a Tbsp. at a time until you have a smooth dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. The dough should not be sticky. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead lightly, then place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
- Once dough has risen, remove to a floured surface and roll in to a 15 x 16-inch rectangle. Take your 1/2 cup of maple butter and warm lightly in the microwave (5 seconds), to make it easier to spread. If it gets too thin, just allow it to cool a bit. Spread an even layer over the dough (again, if it's really thin, let is cool a bit before stacking, to avoid a runny, sticky situation). Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut your dough in to 3x4-inch pieces (you should have 20 pieces when you're done). Stack up 5 pieces and place in the prepared loaf pan, standing them upright. Repeat with another stack of 5 pieces and stand them up next to the first stack. Repeat with 2 more stacks of 5 pieces. Arrange them as best you can, spacing them out a bit and trying to keep them as upright as possible. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until they are puffy and have risen above the sides of the pan.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350° F.
- When dough is ready to bake, if desired, sprinkle top with maple sugar or a bit of regular sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan front to back. You may also wish to loosely cover the top with foil if it is brown enough already. Continue baking another 10-15 minutes, until it reaches a temperature of at least 195° F.
- Allow to cool in the pan until warm, then remove. Warm a few tablespoons of maple butter and drizzle over the top.