Pull-apart bread layers with plums, brown sugar, and cardamom, baked with einkorn flour. Tips for baking with einkorn flour included!
This month's theme for our #BreadBakers group is stone fruit! Thank you Mireille of The Schizo Chef for suggesting this wonderful theme, and huge thanks for hosting us this month!
Plums, apricots, mangos, peaches, and nectarines – all fair game. Seriously, who can resist bread studded with summer fruit? I decided on plums before I even knew what I wanted to bake. And I knew I'd be using all-purpose einkorn flour. The good folks at Einkorn recently sent me 5 pounds each of their all-purpose and whole wheat flours, and I was anxious to dig into the bags.
First, I dashed off to Pinterest to get some inspiration. I have a Pinterest Board just for Breads where I save anything that catches my eye, and pondered some simple scones for a time. But nothing really popped out to me as I scanned all the photos. And then I spotted some pull-apart breads. Pull-apart bread has been on my bread list forever, and I was way overdue to make one.
You might be wondering “Why einkorn flour?” I've been baking with it for a few months now, so we're way past our first date and early flirtation. We're solidly in a serious relationship. It's the original wheat farmed by humans 10,000 years ago, and very different from today's ubiquitous hybridized version. It's pale yellow color is the first thing that tips you off that this flour might be different, but what's not visible is all the nutrients and the higher load of protein it carries. Go here for more information on its health benefits.
If you don't see it in your store, here's where you can buy the kind I use online (affiliate link)! Just click on the photo below.
Einkorn flour bakes up differently, especially in yeasted doughs. Here are some rules:
Rule #1: Einkorn flour doesn't absorb liquids as easily, so you either need to plan ahead and let the dough sit for a few hours (or overnight) or cut back on liquids. You could keep adding flour until you have the right consistency, and I have, but you'll end up with a denser bread. If you're working with a recipe developed for standard all-purpose flour, reduce liquids by roughly 30%.
Rule #2: Dough made with einkorn flour doesn't rise as much, so don't wait until the dough has doubled in size. Instead, I recommend the finger test. When you reach the amount of time you would normally wait with all-purpose flour, press the dough gently with your index finger. It should be flexible enough to spring back.
Rule #3: Standing mixers are not your best friend with einkorn dough. Normally long kneading times are preferred with all-purpose flour to develop the gluten, but einkorn flour has weaker gluten since it's the non-hybrid version of wheat flour, so a long kneading doesn't gain anything except a tougher dough. Better instead to knead by hand only until the dough is smooth.
Rule #4: Einkorn dough can bake into a denser bread, so I add 1 egg white to the dough. If the dough recipe already calls for eggs, I still add the extra egg white.
Rule #5: With all-purpose flour, I use a guideline of 4.5 ounces for 1 cup (and yes, I always weigh my flour). This is a little much for einkorn flour, and the recommendation I got from my good friend, master baker Jane Bonacci from The Heritage Cook, was to use 120 grams as 1 cup measurement. Her recommendation was spot on. She's got a cookbook coming out next month with Shannon Kinsella on baking gluten-free, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Click on the image to check it out, and reserve a copy!
Brown Sugar and Plum Pull-Apart Bread
For the dough:
- 1/4 cup warm water no more than 100˚ F- 105˚ F, and no more than 110˚ F
- 2 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 300 grams einkorn flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
For the Filling:
- 4 ounces 1/2 cup, packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- healthy pinch of kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 1/2 cup diced pitted plums or pluots (3 plums)
- Proof the yeast: Whisk together the warm water and yeast in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until it foams a bit.
- Melt the butter and stir in the vanilla.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add the yeast, butter, egg and egg white. Roughly pull the dough together with a large metal spoon by stirring a few times. Dump the dough (it will be just starting to come together) onto a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough only long enough to form a smooth dough - this took me about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover loosely with plastic and a cloth and let rise in a warm place free of any drafts for 1 1/2 hours. I have a bread rising feature on my oven, but another effective place is the cavity of a microwave oven. I first heat up a cup of water in the microwave, move the cup to a back corner, and slide the bowl of dough in. Close the door, and you have a perfect, warm, incubator for your yeast to expand.
- Stir together the brown sugar, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl.
- Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the loaf pan, and fit it into the pan. It should adhere to the butter.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a large and well-floured work surface. Roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle, roughly 12x24 inches. Feel free to gently pull at the dough to form the shape you want. This isn't pastry dough. Pour the melted butter over the dough and spread it with your hands so that the entire surface is basted. You can brush it on, if you've got oodles of time on your hands, but I like to do it with my hands. Sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture, reserving 2 tablespoons for sprinkling over the loaf just before baking.
- Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 6 equal strips along its length, so that each strip is about 24" long. Sprinkle the first strip with 1/5 of the plums - it doesn't have to be exact. Next, lay the next strip on top of the first one. I found it easiest to gently raise one end and then the other, and then slide my arm under the entire strip to move it. It won't break, just stretch. Sprinkle with plums. Continue until all of the plums and dough strips are used, and you have a pile of strips.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the stack into slabs that will fit standing up in your bread pan. To get the proper width, I lined up the short end of the bread pan to the edge of the dough, and sliced just a little shorter. Stack the slabs vertically in the pan, like they are papers in a filing cabinet, and continue until all the slabs of dough are in the pan. Don't be afraid to shove in the last couple pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Cover the dough with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes. Remove the towel, pour out excess plum juices into a cup or bowl to reserve for yogurt or ice cream, and sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of brown sugar mix over the top of the loaf.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. You may need to cover the bread with foil after 30 minutes to prevent it from over-browning. Insert a thermometer into the bread - it should reach 200˚ F before removing from the oven.
- Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning out. The parchment paper should prevent any bread from sticking to the bottom. This bread is best when eaten warm, but try not to eat it all in one sitting 🙂