Breads, Rolls + Donuts Fall Holidays

Apple Cider Pull-Apart Bread

apple cider pull-apart bread on white table
apple cider pull apart-bead on white parchment

This fluffy, soft pull-apart bread is just as the name suggests; you simply pull it apart to eat a slice! Infused with apple cider and cinnamon, it’s a variation on my Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls. You’ll also find a Lemon Pull-Apart Bread in my Baking for the Holidays cookbook.

I’ve used apple cider in both the dough and the icing for this bread, rather than apple chunks or bits or shreds. I find the pieces very distracting in my breads or buns; they tend to just fall out on the plate and need to be eaten with a fork at a later time. Apple cider takes care of this problem nicely.

The apple flavor is light but bright, and does shine through especially with a hit of apple brandy in the icing. It’s as fun to eat as it is delicious, and makes a great Autumn weekend breakfast, especially if you’ve just been to the apple orchard and came home with cider.

apple cider bread on marble surface

How to Make Pull-Apart Bread:

Although this bread is a little time consuming to make, it is always worth the effort.

  1. Make the sweet dough. It will have a rise time of 2 hours. It is recommended to chill the dough overnight, but it needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours after it rises.
  2. Grease and line a 9x4x4 in [23x0x10 cm] Pullman pan with a parchment sling. Lightly flour your work surface, then roll the dough into a 20 by 12 in [50 by 30.5 cm] rectangle with a short edge facing you. With a pastry brush, spread the melted butter evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough and press it gently into the dough with your hands.
  3. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough crosswise into five strips (about 12 by 4 in [30.5 by 10 cm]) each, then stack the five rectangles on top of each other.
  4. Slice the stack of rectangles to create six equal strips about 4 by 2 in [10 by 5 cm]. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side (it will be tight fit, but it is okay to press them close together). Sprinkle any cinnamon-sugar that didn’t make it in the transfer over the top of the bread.
  5. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes; the dough should be about an inch under the top of the pan.
  6. Bake the bread and when done, remove from oven. Immediately glaze with icing.
apple cider pull apart bread on parchment paper

More Apple Recipes:

apple cider pull-apart bread on white table

Apple Cider Pull-Apart Bread

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Proofing Time: 3 hours
This soft, fluffy pull-apart bread is infused with apple cider in the dough and icing. It's as fun to eat as it is delicious! Each layer is full of cinnamon and apple flavor.
Sarah Kieffer
4.28 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

Dough

  • ½ cup [120 g] apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons [444 g] all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons [1 stick or 114 g] unsalted butter at room temperature

Filling

  • ¾ cup [150 g] granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Icing

  • ½ cup [120 g] apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon apple brandy (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups [180 g] confectioners’ sugar

Equipment

  • 9x4x4 inch Pullman pan

Instructions

For the dough

  • Grease a large bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the apple cider, granulated sugar, and yeast, and let sit until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and salt and mix on low until well combined. Add the flour, mixing on low speed until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter, one piece at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, 1 minute. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. The dough will be sticky.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough to gently pull the dough up and fold it over itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn and fold the dough over again. Repeat six to eight more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding the dough three more times, every 30 minutes, for a rise time of 2 hours.
  • Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours. (Note: the dough will be sticky, so this is why it is recommended to refrigerate it overnight. You can chill it for less time, but if it is sticking to the pin or counter as you roll, return to the refrigerator and chill longer.)

For the Filling

  • In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

To Assemble

  • Grease and line a 9 by 4 by 4 in [23 by 10 by 10 cm] Pullman pan with a parchment sling. Lightly flour your work surface, then roll the dough into a 20 by 12 in [50 by 30.5 cm] rectangle with a short edge facing you. With a pastry brush, spread the melted butter evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough and press it gently into the dough with your hands.
  • Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough crosswise into five strips (about 12 by 4 in [30.5 by 10 cm]) each, then stack the five rectangles on top of each other.
  • Slice the stack of rectangles to create six equal strips about 4 by 2 in [10 by 5 cm]. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side (it will be tight fit, but it is okay to press them close together). Sprinkle any cinnamon-sugar that didn’t make it in the transfer over the top of the bread.
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes; the dough should be about an inch under the top of the pan.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F [180C]. Place a sheet pan on a lower oven rack (this will help catch any drips).
  • Bake the bread until the top is golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes, or registers 200F [95C] on an instant-read thermometer. Check the bread halfway through baking – if the top is browning too quickly, cover it with a piece of foil.
  • While the bread is baking, make the glaze: In a medium saucepan, cook the apple cider and salt over medium-high until reduced to ¼ cup [60 g], 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and apple brandy if using, and whisk until smooth (there may be a few tiny cream cheese lumps, but they will come out as you whisk in the confectioners’ sugar). Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar to the apple cider mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  • Transfer the loaf pan to a wire rack and immediately pour half of the icing over the bread, then let sit for 15 minutes. Use the sling to gently remove the loaf from the pan, then drizzle the remaining icing over the loaf. Let cool slightly before pulling apart and eating. This bread is best eaten the same day it’s made.
    apple cider bread
  • Note: Chilling the dough overnight helps develop flavor, but also helps with the rolling process. Because of the high butter content in this dough, it is more apt, when warm, to stick to the work surface or rolling pin. If that happens, you can put it back in the fridge and let it chill. If your dough is resisting rolling out straight from the fridge, cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for 5 minutes, then try again.
  • Reply
    jode porter
    Monday, November 21, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    5 stars
    I made this on Sunday with a recipe of cinnamon rolls. The recipe was not your typical sweet dough recipe. It was SO WORTH the folding time. These were inhaled. They were still warm from the oven when they were devoured. I started the dough Saturday. Put it in the fridge prior to the rise where it doubles. Set my pans on the counter Sunday morning and baked as soon as they had doubled in size. The apple cider gave it the best flavor!

  • Reply
    MZ
    Sunday, November 20, 2022 at 10:18 am

    5 stars
    I’m kind of surprised by some of the harsh reviews. Just from the picture of the final product it is clear that it will be a more complicated process than an everyday loaf of bread, and I found the steps clearly written. And I don’t expect a recipe writer to provide a bunch of alternative ingredients, as they wrote it the way they wrote it for a reason – those are the kinds of things I come to the comments for 🙂
    That said, it is DELICIOUS! I used reduced fat cream cheese which left the icing less than smooth, but it wasn’t noticeable once I drizzled it. I didn’t use all of the filling either, as some other reviewers mentioned. I replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat and it didn’t change the texture or the taste, and I replaced 1/4 of the sugar filling with Swerve. I used an 8×4 loaf pan so I cut the last squares a little smaller, and I actually had a bit of space in the pan so I used a tiny oven-safe bowl to keep it upright so it didn’t all slide apart while cooking. I cannot wait to make this again!

  • Reply
    Dan W
    Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 9:05 am

    5 stars
    Everyone loved this! It was a bit tedious, especially incorporating the butter, since I don’t have a stand mixer and did that step by hand. Maybe next time I’ll warm the butter a little past room temp?

    I don’t have a 9x4x4 pan, so I used 2 small loaf pans, and it was ready a few minutes before the stated cook time. Hard to temp something so “loose”, but I took it out at 198F and it was fine – maybe a very tiny bit doughy.

  • Reply
    Debbe
    Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Sarah, I don’t have a Pullman pan but do plan to get one. When is the cover used? I can’t find any mention of it in the recipe (which doesn’t mean it isn’t there!) so I’m a tad confused.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 4:44 pm

      Hello! The lid is not used in this recipe. You just use the pullman pan which has higher sides, narrower base than other loaf pans.

      • Reply
        Debbe
        Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 5:16 pm

        Excellent, thanks!

  • Reply
    Vida
    Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 10:58 am

    This turned out well. The apple flavour is incredibly subtle. I knew going into it I wasn’t going to make the icing. I added 1 tablespoon of boiled cider to the dough, along with the cider to equal 1/2 of liquid. I also added 1 tablespoon of boiled cider to the filling along with the butter. I noticed some subtle changes here to the dough from the book recipe, so I followed the book recipe (such as honey, instant yeast). For the dough, I have found making this dough numerous times that kneading the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes eliminates the need for every 30 minute folds, so I always do this. I let the dough sit undisturbed for 2 hours and then refrigerate. I find 1/2 cup of sugar to be perfectly adequate in the filling, for both the cider version and the regular version. The dough is a very slow riser. I first made this in June, and it took longer than 45-60 min for the second rise. This time it’s November and my kitchen is cold and it took a lot longer. I think unless your kitchen was literally on fire it would not take 45 minutes to double in size.

    If you’re looking for a bread with a deep apple flavour this isn’t it. But it’s still very good. The sweet dough recipe isn’t my favourite to make. It works and I’ve made it numerous times and the taste is good. But it’s a bit of a pain to make. I definitely recommend treating it like a brioche and making it in the stand mixer as you would a brioche.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    Monday, November 14, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    4 stars
    Apple cider recipes are perfect this time for year and this one is no exception. As Sarah mentioned, the dough is on the sticky side so flour the work surface adequately to help lift the pieces easier when stacking them. The cinnamon sugar filling was also a bit messy during this step, but I was able to use the final stacked pieces to stick up everything. This recipe isn’t as time consuming as it seems if it’s planned accordingly and the addition of apple brandy to the icing was a pleasant surprise! Aside from a couple of minor things, this recipe was great and I will definitely make it again!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Fung
    Monday, November 14, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    3 stars
    Hey! Thanks for the reply. I honestly think it was because I live in a very dry climate. I find that with most recipes I have to reduce the flour for it to work properly. I think maybe that would solve a lot of the issues that I had. I am excited to try it again though, it tasted amazing.

    Photos would be great! I would definitely appreciate it.

    Also, I want to try warming up the cider first before adding the yeast. I think maybe that would help with the proving since it was super cold coming out of the fridge. Would that work for this recipe?

    Thanks again for the reply!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    Monday, November 14, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    4 stars
    Any recipe with apple cider this time of year is always welcome and this recipe was no exception, especially as a soft and fragrant pull-apart bread. The amazing addition of apple brandy to the glaze was a pleasant surprise! The dough is very sticky so flour the working surface thoroughly and the dough won’t stick as much when trying to pick up the pieces to stack. The cinnamon sugar filling can also get messy in this stage but I just used the stacked dough sections to sort of stick up whatever fell off. Other than that, this recipe was easy to work with and not too time-consuming if you plan ahead and I will definitely be making it again!

  • Reply
    Maddie
    Monday, November 14, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    4 stars
    Really delicious—like an appley cinnamon roll. Nothing was too complicated, even for a bread newbie like me. Definitely read the entire recipe before beginning so you understand how long the dough has to rise and then be refrigerated. Will definitely make again!

  • Reply
    Allison
    Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Hey Sarah! Should the dough come back to room temp before the “assemble” steps after its overnight prove? Thanks so much can’t wait to try this! I’ll update my comment when I finish baking! ???

    • Reply
      Allison
      Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 9:42 am

      (my dough is in the fridge right now if that wasn’t clear!) thanks again!

      • Reply
        Sarah Kieffer
        Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 10:00 am

        Hi Allison! I just added this note to the recipe, which should answer your question: Chilling the dough overnight helps develop flavor, but also helps with the rolling process. Because of the high butter content in this dough, it is more apt, when warm, to stick to the work surface or rolling pin. If that happens, you can put it back in the fridge and let it chill. If your dough is resisting rolling out straight from the fridge, cover it with a tea towel and let it rest for 5 minutes, then try again.

        Room temperature is technically 68 degrees F, but most peoples’ kitchens are all over the place in temperature depending on the weather, and ovens, and whatnot. In the summer months I can usually roll this dough straight from the fridge fine, but in the winter it takes a little longer, and I need to let it rest/warm up a bit first.

        • Reply
          Allison
          Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 10:02 am

          Thanks so much Sarah!! This definitely helps. I’ll report back!

  • Reply
    JF
    Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    2 stars
    This recipe was a pain to make. It’s hard to follow and there is a lot of guess-work. Also, keep in mind that this recipe takes 2 days to make. It was delicious to eat but there needs to be some edits to the recipe.

    Strengths:
    – short and accessible ingredient list
    – the concept
    – the taste

    Areas of that need work:
    – lack of photos or videos of the method – this would’ve helped immensely with the guess-work
    – lack of alternative ingredients listed – can apple juice be used instead of cider? can instant yeast be used? what other kinds of flour work? Is there way to make it gf or dairy-free?
    – some of the ingredients are missing details – the butter for the filling in the ingredient list does not say it needs to be melted, also does the cider need to be a room temp or fridge temp?
    – no mention of the dough needing to be proved in the fridge overnight – this is only mentioned in the actual recipe, not in the condensed version in the blog section, and at the top of the recipe it says “Proofing Time: 3 Hours” which does not include the overnight proofing
    – lack of notes about different climates – what if the dough seems dry? what if the dough seems too sticky? (I will omit the extra 2 tbsp of flour next time as my dough was very dry)
    – to make the dough, the use of the paddle is listed which seems strange since it’s a dough – I started with using the paddle to mix the yeast mixture, eggs, and salt but then when I added the flour, it was very hard on the mixer and the flour was not mixing in well, I had to switch to the dough hook and it eventually incorporated
    – when adding the butter to the dough, it would not incorporate into the dough, the butter was being whipped around the solid ball of the dough and it was a greasy mess, I had to switch back to the paddle and it took about 5 minutes for the butter to be mixed in – the dough was very greasy but not sticky like it says it should be in the recipe
    – the proving was pain-staking – flipping it every 30 minutes did not seem to be necessary, the dough was not rising very well and I couldn’t fold it over itself – it was a hard ball that I had to flatten and fold very awkwardly over itself every time
    – there is no mention if the dough has to get to room temp after being in the fridge, it was impossible to roll the dough into a 20×12 inch rectangle, even with the dough at room temp – it started to rip
    – there is way too much sugar for the filling – 3/4 cups was excessive, almost 99% of the sugar fell off the strips as you lift them and stack them onto each other – yes I did press the cinnamon sugar into the dough, I had to pour it all on the top of the loaf which made a huge mess
    – I did not have a pullman pan so I used a standard loaf pan and the ends of the loaf popped out of the pan completely – this is my error but I think it should be mentioned that if you don’t have a pullman pan that you should divide the stacks between two standard loaf pans

    Overall, I had high hopes for this recipe. But it requires several adjustments for it to be a successfully made pull-apart bread made at home. The concept is great and it has a lot of potential, perhaps it needs to be tested again.

    • Reply
      Sarah Kieffer
      Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 7:37 pm

      Hello! I’m sorry you had trouble with this recipe. This dough is based on my Sweet Dough recipe (which I have here on my site and also in my cookbooks), which is a no-knead recipe, and does not require a dough hook – the paddle is supposed to be used. Folding the dough over onto itself helps develop some structure to the dough, and that is why it is in the recipe. I’ve been using this method for almost a decade now, and have made this particular dough many times, and haven’t had it turn out the way you are detailing here. Can I ask what kind of flour you used for the dough? And did you weigh the flour? The dough should be somewhat sticky, and it seems as if your dough was too dry and caused some issues. As for photos, you are right, that would be helpful, and something I will try to get up for this post soon.

      • Reply
        Renee
        Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 5:37 pm

        Hi Sarah, I’m making this recipe right now and am in the third stretch and fold. I am not a bread newbie and use stretch a fold for focaccia. In that case, stretch and fold is the only method possible because the dough is SO wet. This dough, however, is exactly as the post above describes. I’m not able to stretch it- I have to flatten it in order to fold it over on itself. It’s greasy because of the high fat content, but not sticky. I weighed my ingredients, used large eggs, 1/2 cup cider. It feels like a brioche- not wet enough to stretch and fold….. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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