“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
There comes a time in the life of every individual when they begin to ask certain questions of themselves and of the world. What am I here for? What does it all mean? And do I really need a bundt pan?
The former two queries are a bit meaty for a food blog to be tackling on a Tuesday morning, but the latter I can address. The question about bundt pans and their place in my life first surfaced a few months ago when I made a German marble cake. It wasn’t exactly a bad cake… it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Most cake isn’t. So why, I began to contemplate, would a bundt pan ever be a necessity in any kitchen of mine? Couldn’t I get along just as well without one?
I wasn’t ready to completely abandon the idea of bundt pans just yet, however. Some time after the German marble cake, I decided to give them another chance. I determined to make a blueberry coffee cake for a library fundraiser that my mother was spearheading. The fact that this cake never received any pub here at Nutella Enchanted should give you a hint as to the results. It was a disappointing venture. Among other issues, THIS happened:
As I am sure you can imagine, this didn’t do anything to restore my faith in bundt pans. Now I was ready to turn my back on them forever. What good had they ever done me? I gave them a fair chance (who could say I hadn’t?) and all I’d gotten in return was frustration and disappointment. So I said to myself, “Enough. No more. I do NOT need you or want you, bundt pans.“
Were it not for a fateful visit to my dear cousin Melinda a few weeks ago, I might have gone to my grave without a change of heart. There, in the sweet little kitchen of her sweet little house, I first beheld a certain ring of golden buttery goodness. It was homemade garlic parmesan pull apart bread, and the sight alone was enough to set one’s salivary glands in motion. The aroma, also, was heavenly. And it tasted as good as it looked and smelled. Enraptured, I asked Melinda how she’d made this delicious bread, and implored her for the recipe. The process, she informed me, involved layering lumps of dough in a bundt pan.
A bundt pan? Was it possible? I’d thought bundt pans yielded nothing but dry, heavy cakes and broken dreams. But here, in this moist, flavorful delight of a bread was proof to the contrary. Here was a reason to believe again.
Bundt pans and I are alright now. I tried Melinda’s recipe myself last week, and my faith is well on its way to being restored. I was missing several vital ingredients (like garlic. And parmesan. Yeah, I know.) and it still turned out (I think this is one of those magical recipes that is impossible to ruin.)
And so, one of life’s great questions has, for me, been answered. Do I really need a bundt pan? Yes, I do.
Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread (from The Pastry Affair)
-2 teaspoons active dry yeast
-1 1/3 cups barely warm water
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 teaspoons salt
-3 1/2 cups all purpose (or bread) flour
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and water. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast is foamy. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and flour. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, or until elastic. If you are doing this by hand, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is elastic, 7-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is doubled in size.
In a small bowl, combine melted butter, parsley flakes, and minced garlic. Set aside.
Punch down the dough. Tear off small pieces of dough (roughly the size of the bowl of a medium spoon), coat in the butter mixture, and place in the bottom of a bundt pan. Repeat this process until you have one layer of dough balls. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese. Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until you have 3 layers. Cover the pan with a clean towel and allow to sit until dough has doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.