Party food you can make ahead, freeze and can even be reheated in the microwave! Every piece of bread you pull out is like a mini pizza!
Have you ever seen such small, pudgy hands on a fully grown person? Well, I say “fully grown” but I must admit I’m rather vertically challenged. I like to say I’ve been standing in a hole since I was 7. 🙂
Having “Baby Hands” (which is what my friends call me!) is the bane of my life as a food blogger because I love doing “action shots”. I make a conscious effort to try to position my fingers to make them look more elongated in photos (I sort of stretch them out, and I try to get a flattering light on them), but sometimes I’m too flustered to remember.
Like capturing this stretchy cheese shot while the cheese was still warm.
So there you have it. My Baby Hands on full display for you to see and have a giggle over.
“Every piece of bread you pull out is like a mini pizza!”
I seriously considered calling this Crack Bread #2. Because it was inspired by my Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread (“Crack Bread”) and is almost as addictive. I say almost, because I consider Crack Bread to be the original and the best!
Actually, the idea for this pizza version came about from a reader who asked if they could add pizza sauce to Crack Bread. I said it could definitely be done but thought it might be a bit hard to spread the sauce into all the cracks. Another reader suggested using a squeezer bottle which is a great idea!
I considered making a pizza version of Crack Bread but the concern I had was that because the bread used for Crack Bread is a full size loaf, the “cracks” are quite deep so most of the cheese and pepperoni would slide to the bottom.
Don’t get me wrong. It would still be delicious! But I thought that using baguettes / french sticks would be a little more practical for a pizza version. Every piece of bread is like a mini pizza!
As with Crack Bread, this reheats really well, not just in the oven, but also in the microwave! The crust stays nice and crunchy because it gets a thick crunchy crust when it is baked. A key tip is to make sure that you don’t swap out the mozzarella cheese. Because mozzarella re-melts well, unlike many other cheeses.
So you can assemble this, then refrigerate or freeze it and bake when ready. OR you can bake it then refrigerate or freeze it and bake or microwave it to reheat.
It looks innocent enough when you first pull it out of the oven….
….until you start getting stuck into it! (And there you go, my Baby Hands again. Go on, have another giggle!).
If Crack Bread is the head-honcho of the crack bread family, then this Pizza Pull Apart Bread must be his son!
So what do you think of Crack Bread‘s son? How does he compare to the original??
PS I made this bread numerous times to try to come up with the “best” way. I’ve included my thoughts on each way I tried below the recipe. 🙂
- 1/3 cup salted butter
- 1 garlic clove , minced (or 2 if you like really garlicky)
- 1 baguette / french , 60cm / 2 feet long (or multiple short ones)
- 1/3 cup pizza sauce
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (Notes 1 and 2)
- 4 oz / 120g pepperoni , sliced or diced (I used mini pepperoni)
- 1/4 red onion , finely diced (optional)
- 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley , finely diced (optional)
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Melt butter with the garlic in it.
Cut the french stick into 1.5 - 2 cm / 3/5" - 4/5" thick slices (about 25 slices, including ends) and lay them out on a work surface.
Brush butter on each slice, ensuring to dab some garlic on. Use most but not all the butter.
Spread a small dab of pizza sauce on each piece of bread, top with onion, cheese then pepperoni (in this order).
Stack 6 or 7 pieces of bread on top of each other. Then pick up the stack (hold the top and bottom pieces) and place it in a 22cm / 8" square baking dish. (See photos below) (Note 3)
Brush the top of the bread with the remaining butter.
Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is mostly melted. Then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crusty (to your liking).
Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley (if using) and serve immediately!
1. You can substitute the mozzarella for any melting cheese of your choice but mozzarella gives the best "stretch". Provolone Dolce is pretty good for stretch too. If you are planning to reheat again after baking, or are expecting leftovers (unlikely!), then I suggest sticking with mozzarella because it remelts quite well.
2. I tried this with sliced and grated cheese. Grated works better - sliced tends to slide to the bottom when it melts and doesn't distribute as well on each slice (also more calories!).
3. Fitting the bread in the baking dish snugly is key for ensuring the cheese and pepperoni don't slide to the bottom while baking.
4. This can be frozen (2 months) or refrigerated (3 days) before or after baking. If it is uncooked, then follow the recipe directions to bake in the oven (thaw first, or add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time). If you have refrigerated or frozen a baked one (i.e. cheese is melted), then you can reheat it in the oven (wrap in foil) or in the microwave (it does not go soggy because it has a thick crust on it).
5. If you bake it, then after it has cooled and set, you can remove it from the dish (use a spatula) and wrap it in foil. It holds together quite well when reheated so it is transportable without the baking dish.
5. Nutrition per serving.
Ways I tried making this:
- “Hasselback” style (almost cutting through to base, drizzling butter, pizza sauce then stuffing it) – because the bread isn’t “compressed” together as much, the cheese pooled in the base and also the bread “bowed” because of the stuffing in the cracks. Didn’t work so great.
- Using slices instead of grated cheese – easier and neater to assemble but the cheese tended to slide to the base and actually, I thought there was too much cheese so when pieces of bread were pulled out, the cheese and pepperoni would often remain in the baking dish (stuck to the dish or another piece of bread). Grated cheese gave a much better “spread” and light enough so it stays on (most) pieces of bread as you pull it out!
- The order you put the toppings on matters! I found that putting pepperoni on top of the cheese instead of under it makes the cheese stick to the bread better (i.e. the side with the pizza sauce on it). It took me a few goes to figure that out. If you put pepperoni under the cheese, then quite often the cheese sticks to the adjacent piece of bread, taking the pepperoni with it. Still tastes great! But it means each slice doesn’t look like a mini pizza – you end up with pizza sauce on one side, and cheese + pepperoni on the other side! My other tip is to just scrape the pizza sauce on. Too much pizza sauce prevents the cheese from attaching to the bread.