Alpha Foodie’s Christmas tree pull-apart bread (cheese buns)
Flavourful cheese buns stuffed with oozy melting cheese make up this festive Christmas tree pull-apart bread dish (or another shape of your choice). A beautiful and delicious centrepiece to be served as an appetizer, party food, or alongside your festive cheeseboard!
Step 1: Prepare & knead the dough
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast, stirring to dissolve the yeast and sugar. Then add the eggs and whisk well.
Transfer the flour to a clean working surface and make a well in the centre. If preferred, you can do this in the bowl.
Pour the liquid mixture into the well of the dry mix and start to mix the flour into the wet ingredients gradually until you obtain a dough-like mixture.
Move the dough onto a working surface if you haven’t yet. Knead for 7-10 minutes, stretching and folding the dough to work the gluten until you obtain a smooth, elastic dough.
Step 2: Rest, Butter and Repeat
Shape the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl, sprinkling it with a little flour on top. Leave it to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel.
Once ready, place the dough back onto the work surface and start incorporating the butter into the dough little by little, kneading it to incorporate fully. It’s easiest to do this as small cubes or spoonful’s.
The warmth of your hands will begin to melt the butter slightly, this is normal – however try not to get the dough too warm.
Once the butter is fully incorporated, shape it back into a bowl and leave it to rest for another 10 minutes, covered in the kitchen towel.
Step 3: Shape & rest the dough again
Once the dough is rested, gently deflate it and then use a knife or bench scraper to divide it into 19 even pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking tray, then chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes so that they firm up.
Step 4: Stuff the cheese buns
Once chilled, slice each dough ball halfway through horizontally, so it opens like a book. Add your small cheese cube/s or shredded cheese to the center and then close the dough. You can pinch the ends for a better seal.
Roll the balls gently along the surface for a smoother finish.
Step 5: Shape the Christmas tree bread
Arrange the dough balls onto a large baking tray into the shape of a Christmas tree. I do this in layers of 1,2,3,4, and 5 dough balls, then one or two rows of 2 balls for the tree trunk.
Don’t place them too tightly to one another as there will be one final prove, allowing the dough to expand further.
Brush the dough with egg wash or melted butter and set aside to prove for around an hour in a warm area.
Step 6: Bake it
Once proved, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and then bake the Christmas tree pull apart bread in the oven at 200ºC for 18 minutes until golden brown.
Once baked, top with your additional topping of choice (like cranberries and rosemary) and enjoy the cheese buns while they’re still warm!
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630g white bread flour
3 teaspoons salt
4 Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs, whisked (1 used for egg wash)
15g fresh yeast
220ml full fat milk
75g unsalted butter
200g cheese of choice, grated
Cranberries or rosemary (optional)