Lime Pull-Apart Bread with Lime-Yogurt Icing

One of my favorite things to do when I have an entire day to myself is taking on a laborious recipe. Like bread-making. Especially this pull-apart bread. It’s got three different components – the yeast dough, the lime-sugar filling and the frosting and definitely requires quite a bit of hands-on work. However, the end-result was so yummy and good-looking that every slice I peeled off felt like a job well-done.

Pull-apart breads are so fun to eat. Every layer beheld a new punch of citrusy, limey sugary goodness combined with the soft fluffiness of the sweet bread. I did have to improvise quite a bit in order to create this loaf. Firstly, I only had unsweetened soy milk on hand, so I substituted that for regular milk. Fortunately, it didn’t impart any distinct soy flavor to the loaf. Secondly, I didn’t have lemons around, so I omitted the lemon zest for the sugar filling and used as much lime zest my three limes would yield. Thirdly, I didn’t have cream cheese for the frosting, and figured that Greek yogurt would work fine – and also a lot less calorific. I also had 1/4 cup of lime juice sitting around that I wanted to incorporate into the loaf somehow, so I brushed it with the melted butter onto the layers of the loaf. It might’ve made my bread a little bit soggier than it would have, but I can’t be sure since I didn’t make it without the lime juice. However, it definitely prevented the bread from drying out in the second rise and while it was baking. Oh yeah, I also didn’t have a rolling pin to roll out the layers – but a wine bottle works fantastic.

If you’ve read enough of this blog, you’ll notice that I don’t post up a lot of in-progress photos. It strikes me as uncanny that so many food bloggers do so. I usually get my hands pretty dirty in the process of baking, and having to wash my hands every so often to snap a couple of pictures would be quite cumbersome. However, this picture of the granulated sugar and lime zest was too pretty to pass up.

Lime Pull-Apart Bread with Lime-Yogurt Icing
Adapted from Un Gamine dans la Cuisine
Makes one 9 x 5 loaf

Sweet yeast dough
About 2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk (I used soy milk)
2 ounces unsalted butter (4 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lime paste filling
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (5-8 limes)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons) (I omitted)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup lime juice (this was my own addition)

Tangy yogurt icing – for the original cream cheese icing, click to the original recipe link)
6 tbsps Greek yogurt
1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar (I used granulated sugar, it turned out fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Mix two cups (nine ounces) flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm 120 to 130°F. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk and melted butter into the flour and mix with a rubber spatula until the flour is evenly moistened. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work with. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.

Meanwhile, make the lime sugar filling. Mix the sugar, lime zest, and lemon zest. It’ll draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. *Be sure to flour the dough slightly. This will make it much easier to work with.* (If using lime juice, mix it with melted butter.) Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70 °F) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay. While dough is rising, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. *Mine took about 5 minutes longer. I made a foil tent to keep the crust from getting too brown.* Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt icing. Beat the yogurt and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the lime juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

Carefully tilt and rotate the pan while tapping on a table to release the loaf. I simply ran a knife along the edges and it came out perfectly. Using a brush, cover the surface of the loaf with the cream cheese icing. Allow the icing to seep into the cracks and holes.

Enjoy this cake while it’s still slightly warm or at room temperature.

Notes: If you’re using the yogurt icing, I recommend applying it just before eating, or use it as a dip to thoroughly coat each piece. The yogurt icing is more liquid that the cream cheese icing, and would make your loaf soggy if left to soak.

Strawberry Toast + Oatnut Bread

It’s summertime, and berries are at their peak. Sweet, succulent and juicy, strawberries are a fantastic way to cool you down and satisfy your sweet tooth. I was grocery shopping, and I was lured by the strong scent of the strawberries. Nothing beats the smell of ripe strawberries; which incidentally, taste nothing like strawberry-flavored candy. Growing up, berries weren’t something I ate with any frequency because they don’t do well in tropical Singapore. I was probably quite surprised when I had my first strawberry, wincing at its tartness and its complete departure from strawberry-flavored things.

I came up with the idea for this meal by cobbling together what I had in my fridge: strawberries that needed to be eaten, a large tub of Greek yogurt, and oatnut bread that I made a couple of days ago. You could use whipped cream cheese or whipped cream on your toast, but Greek yogurt offers the same creaminess and tang with much less fat and a lot more protein. This dish is basically a healthier version of the strawberry shortcake.

This bread was made with white whole wheat flour, oats, and walnuts. It’s a firm and hearty loaf that will stand up to spreads and drippy fillings, so it would be good for a sandwich. The original recipe called said vital wheat gluten was optional, but I didn’t have it. Whole wheat flour can be a little tricky in yeast breads, but don’t be discouraged. It might not taste or feel like the soft, fluffy prepackaged loaves you get in the supermarket, but it also doesn’t have a ton of unpronounceable additives.

Strawberry Toast

Makes a slice

1 slice of bread
2 strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp of Greek yogurt

Toast bread, if desired. Spread Greek yogurt on bread. Layer strawberries. Eat!

Oatnut White Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes 1 9×5 loaf

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110F), divided
3-4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats (whole rolled oats, chopped)
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the yeast (about 1/4 oz.) and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
Stir in remaining water, 1 cup of flour, the oats, vital wheat gluten (if using) and honey, and mix well. Add in salt, pecans and an additional 1 1/2 – 2 cups flour. Stir, adding remaining flour gradually, until the dough comes together into a ball a begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (this can also be done in an electric mixer with the dough hook attached).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead, adding flour a tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
After dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface again. Gently deflate dough into a rectangular shape. Fold up the two long sides of the rectangle and pinch the seam together. Place seam-side down into prepared loaf pan. Again cover the bread with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
While the bread is going through its final rise, preheat oven to 375F.
Bake loaf for 35 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom reads about 200F.
Cool loaf outside of pan on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Notes: I ended up using about 2.5 cups of flour total.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls isn’t really by any measure a healthy breakfast, but somehow this carbohydrate bomb managed to enter the canon of breakfast foods. I suspect it’s because it’s so fun to eat. Who doesn’t like eating the cinnamon roll by unwrapping it toilet paper-esque? Okay, my metaphors and similes haven’t been very appetizing but my words embody my feelings towards cinnamon rolls – nay, the whole plethora of desserts!

They are so fun to eat, and the soft fluffiness of the bread and caramelly cinnamon-sugar glaze simply brings you to a state of unadulterated, comforting pleasure. Furthermore, its inherent playfulness makes eating a tactile experience as well. Ok, I’m done with the romanticizing. Onto the recipe now. Some things to note: the roll without the glaze isn’t terribly sweet, so if you want your desserts to be unabashedly sweet, be sure to use the glaze or up the cinnamon-sugar mix. This recipe is also really easy for a yeast-bread one, since you can make it the night before and bake it in the morning for a freshly-baked and oh-so-sinful breakfast.

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 1 dozen rolls

2 large eggs
1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons – Domino Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter

1/4 cup (2 oz) butter, melted
1/3 cup –Domino Brown Sugar (I used dark)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Domino® Granulated Sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

2 teaspoons melted butter
3/4 cup – Domino® Confectioners Sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons – milk

Beat eggs in medium size bowl. Add 3/4 cup warm water and yeast, stirring to dissolve yeast. Refrigerate mixture for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and sugar. With a pastry blender or fork, blend in butter, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually blend the mixtures together; it will be loose and a little sticky. Gather dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to bake, roll dough into an oblong shape (I made a rectangle of which was about 12 by 14) on a well-floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick.

In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll the dough up to form a jelly roll. With a serrated knife, cut the roll into 1-inch slices. Place on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise in a warm place about 30 minutes. Generously sprinkle with the granulated sugar (I skipped this step). Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow rolls to cool slightly on wire racks placed over wax paper.

To make Icing, mix the melted butter confectioners’ sugar and milk together until smooth. Drizzle icing over rolls and serve.

Tip from Domino:
Rolls can be wrapped in aluminum foil and individually frozen. To serve, heat in a pre-heated 350°F oven 5 minutes.

Tip from Cookie Madness:
You can freeze the spirals of dough. Just cut the jelly roll into rounds, arrange however many you need for the occasion, then put the remaining dough in the freezer to solidify. When dough spirals are firm, put them in an air-tight freezer bag. The next time you want to make cinnamon rolls, arrange the frozen dough spirals in the pan the night before, let them rise overnight, then wake up and bake.

Curry Rolls

I’m always inspired by bread baskets I get at restaurants. More often than not, they serve a crusty artisan bread with butter or olive oil. However, there’s always the odd place that realizes that the complimentary bread basket is a great way to go above and beyond. I got an extremely outstanding bread basket at Public, and the one most memorable bread was their chipotle and cranberry roll. The bread flavors are apparently experimental and vary from day to day, so I’m glad that I was there that day. And that bun was what really inspired me. The bread was soft, sweet and fluffy, but had a hint of spice from the chipotle. And that’s what inspired my curry buns.

A basic sweet dinner roll recipe with curry powder, they turned out amazing. Extremely soft and fluffy and sweet, and also harbored a slight hint of curry. They taste delicious on its own, but might be interesting with fried Spam (mmmm fried Spam) or as a way to sop up stew sauces.

I used some egg wash to give it a glossy coat, but I didn’t have a pastry brush, so I did what I could with a fork. Alas, the plight of a college baker. Also, I kinda haphazardly shaped the balls. I’m pretty sure there’s a proper technique to it but I did whatever I felt like.

Curry Rolls
Makes 16
Adapted from Allrecipes

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder.
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast


1. Nuke water and milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds and mix sugar in till dissolved. Add yeast to mixture and let yeast bloom.
2. In the yeast mixture, mix in the salt, curry powder butter and egg. Mix flour in half cup at a time. Knead dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test. If you can stretch a small amount of the dough until it becomes a translucent sheet (just about 1.5 inches wide is fine), then it’s ready.
3. Let it rise for about 60 minutes in a bowl covered loosely with a kitchen towel, until the dough doubles.
4. Punch it down, divided it into 16 balls and let it rise for another hour. (I realized it’s easiest to section the dough by using a pair of scissors.)
5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 F.


Bagels are one of the many specific things that I have cravings for. I have never actually had a bagel before I came to New York City. My first encounter with bagels were in the dining hall, where they mostly looked quite unappetizing. However, bagels have grown on me since then, and my favorite varieties include pumpernickel and poppy seed. (Did you know poppy seed is contraband in Singapore?) As with any baked item that I like to eat, I like trying to replicate them too. To be honest, this is probably the best picture of the bagels I took. The rest are not quite as pretty:

Craggy, and malformed by the cooling rack and my use of chopsticks to lift the bagels instead of a slatted spoon. Sigh. I thought I could do it Chinese-style like so:

This is Hum Jin Peng, or 咸煎饼. It’s like a donut with red bean filling or five spice flavoring.

But obviously that didn’t bode so well for the soft dough. This batch was actually my second attempt. In my first attempt, I used half whole wheat flour and my dough did not rise at all. I ended up with a slab of tough, unusable dough that I made into “flatbread” and spread some dulce de leche on, but it was otherwise the most unappetizing failure I’ve ever made.

Fortunately, despite the looks of this batch, they actually came out pretty well. They were chewy and had a nice crust, and definitely went very well with my smoked salmon. You might notice my lack of cream cheese, but I am generally averse to slathering fat — fat that I can see — onto my food, but I am perfectly happy with eating cake when I can’t see the stick of butter that went into the frosting.

Makes 6 3-inch wide bagels
Adapted from Allrecipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white sugar

1. In large bowl, combine 3/4 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then, by hand, mix in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (12-15 minutes). Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Cut into 6 portions, shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.
5. When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once. Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Bun

If you don’t know my baking style by now, I’ll have you know that I am generally very much a fuss-free baker. I don’t accessorize my baked goods much. If I could get away with not frosting a cake, I could – not having an electric mixer really makes the process a lot more labor-intensive. Therefore, my coconut cocktail buns had to deal without having a glossy egg wash too.

Chinese baked buns are generally glazed with an egg wash, and sometimes have a crusty shortening topping too. This one in particular actually has an interesting explanation to its nomenclature. The reason why it’s called a cocktail bun is because its filling was a way for bakers to use up old buns. They would create a blended “cocktail” of old buns, sugar and some shredded coconut and make it into a filling for new buns to sell the next day.

Here’s a cross-section of the bun. Bread is one of those things that’s easy to make but hard to perfect. My bread had a good sweet taste to it, but certainly lacked the fluffiness and “compressability” that bakery buns have. I don’t really know what I did wrong, but dense bread is typically attributed to too much flour and/or not enough kneading. The filling recipe I used also created a more chewy than creamy filling, so if you don’t like the mouth-feel of shredded coconut, feel free to give it a whirl in the food processor. (Which I don’t have! Alas, such is the plight of a college baker.)

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Bun
Bread recipe from Allrecipes; filling recipe from About
Makes 8 buns

1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup milk (I used skim and it turned out okay)
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed

Filling (makes enough for 7 buns – be creative with the last bun’s filling!)
1 1/3 cups (325 ml) coconut flakes (I used sweetened angel flake coconut and omitted the sugar)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) hard margarine or butter, melted
1 large egg yolk

1. Place 1/3 cup sugar and milk in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup softened butter, and gently warm the mixture until the butter melts and the mixture is warm but not hot (no warmer than about 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the yeast with 2 1/2 cups flour until well blended, and pour the milk mixture into the flour-yeast mixture. Stir in 1 beaten egg, and mix until the mixture forms a sticky, wet dough.
2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, gradually kneading in 1 cup of additional flour or as needed to make a smooth, elastic dough. Form the dough into a round ball, place into an oiled bowl, and turn the dough around in the bowl a few times to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Coconut Filling: Process coconut and sugar in blender or food processor until very fine. Turn into small bowl. Stir in margarine and egg yolk until paste-like consistency. Makes scant 2/3 cup (150 ml) filling.
4. Working on a floured surface, punch down the dough, and cut into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece into 8 equal-sized pieces (16 pieces total). Form each piece into an oblong bun, and flatten the bun with a floured rolling pin. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a spoon, and place in the center of a bun. Pull and pinch the edges of the dough together to enclose the filling in the bun. Repeat with all dough pieces, and place the filled buns, seam sides down, onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover the buns with a cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place 1 hour.
5. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Bake in the preheated oven until the buns are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

P.S. Feel free to freeze it once it has cooled to preserve the texture of the buns. Baked goods generally aren’t affected by freezing and really helps preventing bread from going stale.