Apple Pie Pull-Apart Bread

Is this recipe a little crazy? Sure.

But if you’re up for the challenge (you are), and like to go BIG on Thanksgiving (you do!!), then this is the dessert for you.

The best way to think about this pull-apart bread is a hybrid of apple pie + apple turnover. Since Thanksgiving tends to be so serious, this is a necessary, FUN, light-hearted twist on tradition. Because while I love to keep things classic — this stuffing, for example — nothing beats a little 2017 pizzazz.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I want to apologize for some of the crappy step-by-step photos. Since there’s no window by my kitchen — aka, no natural light! — I took these pics under fluorescent lighting, so they’re all sorts of awful/embarrassing. But because this recipe can get complicated, I wanted you guys to be able to SEE the steps.

So, let’s have at it.

You start by preparing a homemade dough infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice. Making dough from scratch sounds difficult, but as someone who went from novice to pro in about four batches, I promise it’s easier than you think. While the dough rises (30 mins!) prepare the apple pie filling. Like any apple pie recipe you need a TON of apples for this — about 5 honeycrisp apples yields 8 cups — but the slicing is the hardest part. After they’re sliced, saute the apples in butter, cider, sugar, and cinnamon until tender and caramelized, then get ready to form the bread.

Roll out the dough on a heavily floured surface into a thin, even sheet. Use a pastry brush to coat the dough with apple butter, then sprinkle with sugar and top with the apple pie filling. Next, fold the exposed dough over the apple pie filling on all sides, then roll into a tight, fat log. Use a pizza cutter to cut the log length-wise, so that the filling becomes exposed. Finally, loosely twist one half over the other, keeping things as neat as you can. The twisting process WILL get sloppy, so don’t slip into a panic. Stay patient, try a few times if needed, and once the dough is twisted, throw any filling that fell to the side back on top.

And if this sounds a bit messy… it is! Embrace the chaos, love the imperfections, and just enjoy the process.

Once you’re happy with how it looks, coat the bread in more butter + sugar, then bake for 30 mins until cooked through. The smells alone will have you dancing, and damn does it look tasty too. But this recipe isn’t quite finished until it’s drowned in vanilla icing, and that’s where I’ve got good news.

YOU BUY THE VANILLA ICING!!

Because frankly, this recipe is long enough.

The taste here is insanely buttery, sweet, and crisp, so trust that this is the apple pie of your dreams. The pull-apart aspect is fantastically playful, but if you want to be civilized, you can of course slice this too. And best of all? This can be made up to 48 hours ahead of Thanksgiving!

Simply ice it to serve and let the magic begin. xo

Apple Pie Pull-Apart Bread

Ingredients:

  • BREAD:
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp skim milk (I used 2%)
  • 6 tbsps salted butter
  • 2 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 packet instant yeast (should be 2 tsps worth)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted + more for rolling
  • 6 tbsps apple butter
  • 2 1/4 tbsps dark brown sugar
  • another 2 1/4 tbsps granulated sugar
  • parchment paper for lining
  • FILLING:
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 5 honeycrisp apples, finely diced (should yield 8 cups)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 6 tbsps dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • TOPPING:
  • 2 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • warm vanilla icing to drizzle

Directions:

  1. Begin by preparing the dough. In a small saucepan warm the milk over a low flame, then add in the butter to melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar and salt. Let this mixture cool slightly, then add in the egg and egg yolk, whisking until smooth. Lastly incorporate the yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and flour, stirring until the dough takes shape. Knead the dough inside the mixing bowl for several minutes, then cover with saran wrap and allow the dough to rise until approximately double in size, about 30 minutes. The dough is ready when you can press your finger into it and the indentation remains — this post has a good picture of what you want to see.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large skillet melt the butter over a medium flame, then stir in the diced apples, apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Allow all ingredients to simmer for 10-12 minutes until lightly caramelized, stirring occasionally. Set aside until needed.
  3. Once the dough has risen, turn the dough ball onto a heavily floured work surface. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough into an evenly thin sheet — It will be very large, don’t worry! Next, use a pastry brush to coat the dough with apple butter. If your apple butter needs to be softened in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds for easy spreading, do this. Lastly, in a small dish combine the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, then evenly sprinkle over the dough’s surface.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the caramelized apples to the dough, spreading into a thin, even layer and keeping about 1/2″ – 1″ of dough exposed around the edges. Be sure to really strain the apples when doing this, as too much liquid will be bad for the bread. When ready, fold the exposed dough over the apple filling on all sides, so that it looks like a giant apple pizza. Next, roll the dough into a tight, fat log.
  6. Once rolled, use a pizza cutter to cut the log length-wise, then carefully turn the halves so the cut sides are facing up. Loosely twist each halve around the other, keeping the cut sides upward at all times. This can get sloppy, and it can LOOK sloppy too — Don’t be discouraged! If you have to twist and untwist it a few times to get it decent, that’s totally normal. When you’re happy with your twisted rope, gently transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Use a pastry brush to coat the rope in the butter/cider juices from the apple filling skillet (about 1 – 2 tbsps worth), then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. I like to combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl first, for even sprinkling. Lastly (finally!), bake on oven middle rack for 28 – 30 minutes until browned and lightly crisp. Cool completely, then drizzle with warmed vanilla icing and SERVE.
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