We’ve had adventures this week! Last Friday, I braved the pre-blizzard craziness at the supermarket to buy the only things I thought we needed for a snow day — (a) pork and (b) bok choy for (c) lion’s head meatballs. And maybe also some seltzer. While the person ahead of me lugged gallons of water out of the store and the person behind me lugged gallons of water onto the conveyor belt, I went home with my pork, bok choy, seltzer, and zero gallons of water, and I’m fairly sure I texted B2 something like lol the supermarket is crazy as usual even though nothing ever happens, what is this storm even called again. I think you know where this is going — 24 hours later (and just as B2’s cousin came to stay with us, sorry Justin!) the water in our little building did go out, then the heat did too, then right when the water got fixed our sink flooded the kitchen. Haha. And I learned the storm was called Jonas.
It was actually not that dramatic — the building owners are wonderful and live right on the first floor (okay, so I think it was more dramatic for them), the heat came back in about the time it took us to zip up our jackets, and even though our overflowing sink didn’t get fixed until yesterday, it was really just an excuse to eat take-out for three days straight and imagine myself as Mickey in Fantasia whenever I had to dump out the water. But I think this means I’m officially disqualified from making fun of water-buying fellow citizens ever again. You are wiser than me, neighbors. (Although this all happened after I made the meatballs! And they were hearty and comforting and sustained us through our no-heat no-water day! So.)
Anyway, back before all these Jonas hijinks, in a clean(er) and drier kitchen of mine, I got the chance to bake a couple of these pull-apart loaves. I’ve been waiting to make one of these creations ever since Kelly posted this masterpiece a couple of years ago, and my golden opportunity finally arrived a couple weeks back, when a couple friends of ours hosted a Star Wars marathon before The Force Awakens and I couldn’t get over the idea of bringing a squishy, ripply-topped loaf of cheesy garlic bread dubbed Jabba’s Neck Rolls. Because, as it turns out, really gross names for food only make me more gleeful about eating them. I hadn’t thought to share the recipe at first (despite the super-glamorous name) but it ended up so tasty that I made another version with scallion pesto, and here they both are. Both loaves use my very favorite enriched bread dough, a simplified and lightened-up milk bread that has slowly become my standby ever since I first used it in these black sesame rolls, and the rest is just easy, cheesy heaven — this garlic bread version uses lots of melted butter, garlic, mozzarella, and Parmesan, with parsley here and there to add some brightness (and a green tinge, à la Jabba). It’s nice and simple, with all the crowd-pleasing things that you can’t go wrong using, and with a storebought pizza dough or biscuit dough you could make it even easier. I think I’d bake it even without a working sink. (Who needs clean dishes when you have bread?)
Hope you all stayed warm and cozy this weekend!
The products in this post were provided by West Elm. You can find the sources for the cheese board, mortar and pestle, marble slab, and more on their blog here. Thank you so much to West Elm for sponsoring this post!
- for the tangzhong:
- 6 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp bread flour
- for the dough:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast
- 2 3/4 cups (about 350 grams) bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp butter, very soft
- to bake:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz, or 4 tbsp) butter, very soft
- 2-3 tbsp minced parsley
- 1-2 tbsp minced garlic, or to taste
- 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
- 1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan
- 1/2 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- scallions, finely sliced (optional)
- Make the tangzhong: In a small saucepan, whisk together 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It should thicken in less than a minute to a gel-like consistency. As soon as lines appear in the mixture when stirred, remove from heat and transfer to a small, clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
- Next, heat the milk briefly to just above room temperature, about 110 degrees or lukewarm to the touch but not hot. I do this simply by microwaving it for 10-15 seconds. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate. The milk should foam.
- In the meantime, sift together the bread flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Once the yeast has foamed, add the tangzhong and the egg, and whisk until well-combined.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough, then switch to using your hands. Knead for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough forms a semi-smooth ball. The dough should be quite sticky -- sprinkle flour over your hands and the dough as needed to keep kneading, but try to avoid overflouring. One tablespoon should be enough.
- Add the butter to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of butter only after the first has been evenly incorporated. The kneading will be slippery and messy at this point, but just keep kneading (it's weirdly satisfying, actually) and it should eventually form a soft and pliable dough that’s easy to work with. Knead for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a large bowl with plenty of room and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let proof for 1-2 hours, or until well-doubled. Alternatively, let the dough proof overnight in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours, covered with plastic wrap. I prefer the latter -- it gives extra time for the gluten to develop, and yields a better flavor, in my opinion. Plus, dividing the labor over two days makes the process much more manageable.
- The next day, whisk together softened butter, chopped parsley, garlic, and garlic powder. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out to a rough 10x14-inch rectangle (or larger, which will result in more pieces). Spread the butter evenly across the surface, then sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and cheddar. If you like, you can also add finely sliced scallions here, too. Slice the dough into strips, then stack the strips and cut into squares, like Kelly's tutorial here.
- Place the pieces vertically into a 9x5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Tuck extra pieces on the sides as needed. When finished, there should be some extra room, either on the sides or at the top, for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise again, covered with a damp towel, for about 45 minutes to an hour. The dough should nearly double again.
- About 30 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has risen again, sprinkle extra cheese over top, then bake, uncovered, about 35-40 minutes, or until cheese is well-browned on top and bread sounds hollow when tapped. (If cheese browns too quickly, cover the loaf with foil to prevent burning.) Cool briefly, then remove from tin and serve warm, with extra parsley and scallions if desired.
If your milk doesn’t foam and your yeast is fresh, it might be because the milk isn’t ultra-pasteurized -- discard and start over, but this time, heat the milk to just under boiling to scald it, then cool it down to lukewarm and proceed. Supposedly this denatures any proteins that might be inhibiting the yeast.
If not measuring the flour by weight, be sure to fluff it before scooping to get the most accurate measurement. I generally spoon the flour into a cup and then level.
If letting the dough rise overnight, take care not to seal the bowl completely airtight, which can sometimes result in a build-up of gas and an alcohol-like smell. I generally wrap it lightly in plastic wrap and then again with a tea towel.