thanksgiving [and brown butter, sage + cheddar pull-apart bread]

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This year, we split our Thanksgiving holiday between Henry's family and mine. Miles enjoyed his first snow at Henry's aunt and uncle's in New Hampshire, galloping under bowed pine branches and uncovering buried sticks, while we spent time with family over delicious meals and by roaring fires.

After Thanksgiving, we joined my family on the Cape for our annual lobster feast, where Miles discovered a profound love of sand, seaweed, and driftwood [and rediscovered his love of chasing Beau and birds] on the beach at low tide. Back at home, we spent evenings playing cribbage by the fire and enjoying Gram's delicious pumpkin pie.

We're home now, and while these cherished moments are behind us, my heart is full with memories made. Until next time ... 

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brown butter, sage + cheddar pull-apart bread

If you've never tried pull-apart bread before, you need to. It's delicious, fun to eat, and it hides all imperfections. This version is inspired by fall flavors, but the filling can easily be substituted depending on the occasion [try a fruit puree, or butter, cinnamon + sugar for a delicious breakfast bread].  

 

for the dough:

[dough recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman]

2 cups milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

4 cups bread flour + 1/2 additional cup 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

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for the filling:

6-8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh sage, minced

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup grated cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup for garnish

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Add milk and butter to a small sauce pan. Warm over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is starting to steam. Turn off heat and add sugar. Allow to cool until mixture is very warm to the touch [you should be able to put your hand in it without immediately pulling it away, but it should be warmer than bath water]. Once it cools to this point, stir in the yeast and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until mixture foams. 

In a stand mixture with a dough hook, combine 4 cups of flour with liquid mixture and mix until dough comes together. Cover bowl first with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and allow to sit in a warm place for an hour, or until dough doubles in size. 

After an hour, add additional 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with dough hook until combined. 

Meanwhile, add butter to a small sauté pan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, until butter is light brown [make sure to keep an eye on it, as it can easily burn]. Once butter is light brown, add sage and salt and sauté for about 1 minute - or until aromatic. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool slightly. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a loaf pan. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/4-inch thickness into a rough rectangle shape. With a spoon or pastry brush, spread butter mixture evenly over the top of the dough - making sure to spread all the way to the edges. Sprinkle 1 cup of the grated cheese evenly over top.

Next, cut the dough into about 5 long strips [about 4-inches wide]. Stack these strips on top of each other to make one pile. Now, cut the pile into 6-8 even slices. Place each "slice" sideways into the bread pan [depending on how many slices you have, you may have extra pieces left over]. Although tempting, do not try to fill the sides of the pan with extra pieces - there should be a little bit of room on either side of the bread. 

Cover the bread with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 20 minutes. 

Remove kitchen towel and sprinkle the top of the bread with an additional 1/4 cup grated cheddar. Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 30 to make sure the top of the bread is not browning too much. If after 30 minutes, the top is too brown, cover with aluminum foil before baking for the remaining 20 minutes. 

Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes before removing from loaf pan.

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