This is the cheesy garlic Christmas tree pull-apart bread that you NEED for Christmas! It's savory, it's buttery, it's garlicky and cheesy. The best combination for a holiday dinner! Plus, the breads are soft and fluffy!
Once you've had this cheesy garlic Christmas tree pull-apart bread, you'll agree that this is the most amazing thing and a MUST-HAVE for Christmas! I discovered this Christmas tree pull-apart idea scrolling through social media and thought it was so darn cute to pass up. So here's our rendition of the Christmas tree pull-apart bread! Only, it's tastier, cheesier, buttery-er, and garlicky...just as it should!
Optional seasonings and toppings
The great thing about this cheesy garlic pull-apart bread is that you can really customize the flavors you want to incorporate. With the garlic butter base, it's already super aromatic and tasty. You can then, also add some herbs like parsley and oregano for some additional savory perfume. We really liked topping the breads with flakey salts like kosher salt for some additional saltines and pepper flakes for a nice kick. Then, there's the grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella for a more complex flavor and extra cheesy-ness. It was almost a pizza pull-apart bread, if not for the absence of pepperoni! But these toppings are all optional, so feel free to create your own combination!
Mozzarella sticks, shredded mozzarella, or mozzarella blocks?
Personally, I use all three forms of mozzarella for the convenience each provides. For this recipe, mozzarella sticks and blocks can be use interchangeably, with the block requiring a bit more cutting. If you're using the sticks, simply cut each stick into ¾ to 1 inch size pieces. On the other hand, the block mozzarellas have to be cut to a similar size cubes. Now, I totally understand if you don't want to buy 3 types of mozzarella. In that case, I'd opt for shredded mozzarella!
Got time but not feeling the stand mixer?
There are days, believe it or not, I'm in no rush to make dough, so I take my sweet time. (And to be honest, I may have been too lazy to dig out our Kitchen-aid stand mixer because we use it almost as often as we are in the kitchen. 😆 ) For those days when I have time to spare, I make my dough by hand, with minimal kneading , of course.
To make this dough by hand, simply dissolve the yeast in warm milk, as the recipe directs. Mix together the flour, sugar, and sugar. Add the milk with dissolved yeast to the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough no longer have any visible dry flour. Now wrap the dough up and leave it at a warm spot to rest. 30 minutes later, the dough should be much more elastic. Now, knead in the softened butter and round the dough into a ball and cover it again. Here, if I really have time, I let the dough go for another 30 minutes before my official proof. This additional 30 minutes help the dough develop even more gluten and creates a better texture and nice airiness.
But if you don't want to or don't have that additional 30 minutes, just skip right on to the proofing. After the incorporation of butter, round the dough into a ball, cover with the same plastic wrap and let the dough proof in a warm area for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Tadaaa! You'll find the dough to have the same result as if the dough was kneaded!
Short on time? Use pre-made pizza dough
Although, 99% of the time, I always prefer making my own dough and for any occasion, but sometimes you're just short on time. For those unfortunate circumstances, you can use store-bought pre-made pizza doughs as a substitute for this bread dough recipe. Simply divide 2 (13.8 oz) cans of pizza dough into 19 pieces, stuff each with the mozzarella, and pull and pinch the seams together.
Window pane test
It is very important to develop enough gluten in bread doughs to pass the window pane test because the gluten structure in the dough allows the final product to be soft and airy rather than dense and heavy. Usually, when a bread dough has reached window pane consistency when the dough is elastic and supple and can be gently stretch thin enough to see silhouette through it without the dough tearing.
If you're looking for more bread recipes, you make like these:
Bake with love!
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Cheesy Garlic Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread
For the bread:
Garlic butter & optional seasonings:
- Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the warm milk and give it a couple of good mixes. Set the milk aside for about 3-5 minutes and let the yeast dissolve and activate.
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl. Add the milk with dissolved yeast and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Once the dough just comes together, add the softened butter and knead on medium speed until the butter is absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the bowl, about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and continue to mix for about 8-10 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky, feels supple and elastic, and passes the window pane test.*Refer to the post for more detail and picture reference.*
- Round the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough proof in a warm area until doubled, about 1 hour.
- While waiting for the dough to proof, make the garlic butter and prepare the mozzarella. Mix together the butter minced garlic in a microwavable bowl and microwave it just until hot, about 45 seconds on high power. Carefully remove the bowl and add dry parsley flakes and oregano (if desired). Mix until well distributed. Set aside until needed.For the mozzarella sticks, cut each stick into ¾-1 inch pieces. For block mozzarella, cut 19 pieces of ¾-1 inch cubes.
- When the dough has doubled, punch the dough down and knead it back to its original size. Divide the dough into 19 equal pieces (roughly 31-33 grams per). Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, flatten each dough with your palm or rolling pin just enough to wrap around the mozzarella pieces. Pull the edges of the dough to the center then pinch the edges to seal. Roughly round the dough into a circular shape. Repeat with remaining dough.*Cover the doughs that you're not working with, with a damp towel to prevent the doughs from drying out and cracking.*
- On a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper, arrange the mozzarella stuffed dough balls into a Christmas tree shape. Keep the dough balls seam side down and about ½-1 inch spaced apart. Cover the dough balls and let them proof in a warm area for about 30 minutes, or until they are doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- When the dough balls are doubled, brush them with half of the garlic butter. If desired, stuff the extra spacing in between the dough balls with shredded mozzarella, then sprinkle on some kosher salt, pepper flakes, and grated parmesan.
- Bake the pull-apart bread for about 13-15 minutes or until the breads are golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven and brush them with the remaining garlic butter.
- Top the bread with some fresh basil leaves (if desired) and enjoy while warm with some marinara sauce!
- This bread dough recipe can be made without a mixer. Simply add the milk with dissolved yeast to the flour, sugar, and salt mixture. Mix until the dough comes together and no more flour is visible. Let the dough rest in a warm area for about 30 minutes then knead in the softened butter. Let the dough proof in a warm area for an hour or until doubled. Continue with portioning the dough into 19 pieces.
- Alternatively, you can use store bought pizza dough to cut time. Just stuff the dough and add your desired toppings and seasonings.