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Sourdough Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread
A tender brioche dough using sourdough starter as the leavening agent. Pulls apart in gooey, flakey, and tender cinnamon layers.
Home » Sourdough » Sourdough Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread
Sourdough Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread
A tender brioche dough using sourdough starter as the leavening agent. Pulls apart in gooey, flakey, and tender cinnamon layers.
pulling a piece of cinnamon pull apart bread

WHAT IS SOURDOUGH?

Sourdough starter is the original form of yeast, what people used to leaven bread in ancient days. It is simply the combination of flour and water fermented over a period of time. After the invention of the microscope, scientists learned how to isolate the cells in this natural starter, and reproduce it on a mass scale, which brought us commercial yeast. I still used packaged commercial yeast as it’s fast, easy, and convenient. 

However, using natural yeast (sourdough starter) allows us to capture all of the health benefits from the slowly fermented substance. Natural bacteria called lactobacilli helps increase cell reproduction, strengthen immunity, and more. Not only are the health benefits unmatched, but the taste is incredible. Many people who are sensitive to typical yeast breads can handle breads leavened with sourdough just fine, which I think is very telling of the difference it has on how our body processes the two!

If you’re just jumping into sourdough, the book Classic Sourdough will be a game changer for you. It breaks everything down – how to make a starter, take care of one, craft the ultimate loaf of sourdough bread, and over 20 bonus recipes. Just ask the countless 5 star reviews on Amazon. 🙂

How to make cinnamon pull apart bread

This recipe is a spin off of my tried and true brioche cinnamon roll recipe that uses commercial yeast. I shrunk the recipe quantities to make it more fitting for a single loaf, and then swapped out the commercial yeast for active sourdough starter as the leavening agent.

(That means, yes! You could swap out the sourdough starter back for commercial yeast in this recipe too. All you change is adding 2 1/2 tsp commercial yeast in place of the starter and then shrink the rise times to be about 1 hour for the first rise, and 30-45 minutes for the second rise.)

Steps to making the pull apart bread:

  1. Feed sourdough starter about 8 hours prior to making the dough. (You can use whatever feeding ratio you’re comfortable with. A typical feeding would be about 25 grams sourdough starter, 50 grams water, 50 grams flour.)
  2. Mix dough together, adding just enough flour until the dough is smooth and tacky. (Should not be wet and sticky, nor should it be tough. Just a soft, tacky dough. Every brand of flour is different, and humidity can have an impact too. So go by the feel more that the suggested cup measurements.)
  3. Let it rise about 4 hours. (You can also let it rise a few hours, then put in the fridge overnight to split up the steps.)
  4. Roll out into long, narrow rectangle. (about 3/4 the width of your loaf pan. For my 1 1b loaf pan this is about 3-4 inches wide)
  5. Spread evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture, then cut into pieces. The pieces should match the height of the loaf pan, as we’re stacking them vertically, so the pieces should be about 4 inches high)
  6. Rise one more time, bake, & frost!
pulling a piece of cinnamon pull apart bread

FAQ’s FOR PULL APART BREAD

Can I swap the sourdough starter for commercial yeast?

Yes, absolutely! The inspiration was based on my original commercial yeast brioche cinnamon roll recipe. Use 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast instead of the starter, and then expect to possibly use slightly less flour since you removed a portion of liquid (the starter).

I’m new to sourdough. Where do I begin?

I highly recommend getting this book that walks you through every step of the process – how to feed a starter plus a ton of recipes. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can get some from a friend, make your own, or buy some dried preserved starter from my shop that reactivates in just 2-3 days.

Why is my bread struggling to rise?

If you’re struggling with your bread rising, the first place I evaluate is the strength of the starter. The more often you feed your starter, the more active and robust it is. If it’s been dormant for a long time, try feeding it back to back about 3 times to get it healthy again. You can also make sure it’s rising in a warm location, and you used lukewarm (not cold, not burning hot) water, which is about 110 degrees F.

What pan do you use for this recipe?

I am using a 1 lb USA loaf pan. I absolutely swear by their pans. They have a special nonstick coating that lasts (for what seems like forever so far for my pans). I’m not kidding when I say I NEVER spray them. In fact, spraying them with a propellant nonstick can ruin the nonstick coating. I did not spray the pan in this recipe and this sticky loaf just slipped right out. This is true for their muffin pans, cake pans, etc. It’s seriously magic, and love that it’s made right here in the USA.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes! This recipe will double really well if you want to make 2 loaves.

Can I make this in advance?

You can definitely prepare many of the steps in advance. But do to the gooey soft nature of this filled bread, it is best enjoyed fresh. To enjoy it later, I recommend popping it back in the oven to reheat to prevent it from feeling soggy.

To prepare steps in advance: You can prepare the cinnamon filling days ahead of time and store in fridge until ready to use. You can also finish the first rise of the dough in the fridge. It will stay fresh in there for up to 24 hours. After that, the starter can make it have too much of a sour undertone.

You can technically store the second rise in the fridge after it is assembled, but I don’t suggest keeping it in there for too long, as the cinnamon filling may want to seep out.

side angle of cinnamon pull apart bread

Favorite OcCasions for Pull Apart Bread

Cinnamon pull apart bread is a home run for so many different occasions. Some perfect moments:

  • Bridal or baby shower (if you have time to make it fresh!)
  • Christmas or Easter morning
  • Special dessert
  • Sharing with neighbors
open slice of cinnamon pull apart bread
pulling a piece of cinnamon pull apart bread

Sourdough Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Lori Vaughn
A tender brioche dough using sourdough starter as the leavening agent. Pulls apart in gooey, flakey, and tender cinnamon sugar layers.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Rise Time 5 hours
Total Time 6 hours 25 minutes
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 100 grams (~1/2 cup) active, fed sourdough starter
  • 1 cup whole milk lukewarm
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ~438 grams (~ 3 1/2 cups) all purpose flour read instructions carefully to add correct amount

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • ~ 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 110 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar packed

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-3 tsp milk or cream till desired consistency

Instructions
 

Feed Starter

  • Feed your sourdough starter about 8 hours prior to wanting to mix the dough.
    You will need a total of 100 grams fed. My feeding ratios would be 25 grams starter + 50 grams unbleached flour + 50 grams water. This will give you enough for the loaf plus a little leftover. If you have a different feeding ratio you follow, that's fine.

Mix the dough

  • When you starter is fed, doubled in size, and bubbly, you are ready to mix the dough. Start by combining the starter, warm milk, and sugar into a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (or large bowl if doing by hand). Mix briefly.
  • Add about half of the amount of flour, butter, egg, and salt. Mix together until combined.
  • Add the remaining flour slowly. The dough should be a soft, tacky, almost sticky like consistency. You may need to add slightly more or less flour, so watch for the signs of it starting to clean the bowl as it mixes, but remaining slightly sticky. Adding too much flour results in a tough dough.
  • Let it rise about 3-4 hours. You can also choose to stick the dough in the fridge for about 8-24 hours to let it finish rising there instead to spread out the steps. Due to the heavy nature of this brioche dough, you will notice that it should rise some and get nice and puffy, but don't expect it to fully doubly in size.

Filling & Assembly

  • Mix together the softened or melted butter with the sugars and cinnamon. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Roll out your risen dough just a few inches wide and a couple feet long. You're rolling out a long narrow rectangle that's just narrower than the width of your loaf pan.
  • Spread the cinnamon sugar filling evenly over the dough.
  • Using a pizza cutter, bench scraper, or knife, cut the dough into pieces the same height as your loaf pan (about 4 inches). Cut the entire rectangle this way and then stack all of the pieces on top of each other. Pick up your large stack and place it sideways into the pan so you have layers of dough & cinnamon sugar all sticking up, stuck together.
  • Let it rise about 2 hours until puffy. Preheat oven to 350℉.

Bake & Glaze

  • Bake for about 30-40 minutes. About halfway through, you may want to put a piece of aluminum foil on top to slow down the browning on top.
  • While it bakes, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients.
  • When the loaf is finished baking it will be nicely golden brown and the interior dough layers should be about 200℉.
  • Keep in loaf pan for about 5-10 minutes to set it and then transfer to a cooling rack and drizzle with glaze. Best eaten warm!

Notes

Cream cheese glaze alternative:
This recipe would also be delicious paired with a cream cheese glaze. To do so, just add 3 oz softened cream cheese and beat all the ingredients until smooth. 
Yeast substitute:
You can make this recipe with instant yeast instead of sourdough starter. Replace the sourdough starter with 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast and shorten the rise time to 1 hour for the first rise and about 30-60 minutes for the second rise. 
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