Chocolatey Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

"I changed my mind."

My mom shifted the car into park and turned off the ignition before looking over at me. "What do you mean? You can't change your mind now; we're already here."

I looked out the window at the hair salon and then turned back to my mom. "Can't I just get a trim, though? I really don't want short hair. Please." My 5-year-old voice teetered on the border between whining and shouting.

My mom shook her head. "We already made the appointment and told her what we wanted done. We aren't spending all this money for just a trim. It's just hair; it'll grow back. Come on."

Before I knew it, I was seated in a pleathery chair in front of a giant mirror, looking at my long blonde locks. Jessica, our hair stylist, sensed my unease. "Let's just get it over with all at once, okay?" she asked as she tugged it into a ponytail. I could barely nod. A few snips later, my ponytail dropped to the floor with a whisp of finality, and the newly free remnants of my hair fell around my face. They barely reached my ears.

Silent tears began rolling down my cheeks as I calculated how long I'd have to wait to have long hair again.

My hair was really only one facet of my style troubles. In addition to bowl cuts, my mom had a penchant for "hammer pants." She made many of my outfits by hand, including a hammer-panted onesie (I couldn't make this up) with candy-pink stripes and gigantic, ceramic ice cream cone buttons. I think it might've also had a big lace collar. I posed in it with my bowl cut and a reluctant smile for many a photograph.

Then there was the red-and-denim hammer-panted contraption with the ceramic cow buttons. God bless my mother for sewing clothes for me, seriously, but I considered running away.

At least I was loved? Indeed, my childhood style woes remind me of this quote from food writer Angie Mosier about red velvet cake: "It’s the Dolly Parton of cakes: a little bit tacky, but you love her."

Incidentally, I think I would've rather dressed like Dolly Parton than M.C. Hammer, but that's neither here nor there.

This red velvet pull-apart bread has all the fun, tacky redness of red velvet with some extra chocolatey goodness thrown in. It began life as a chocolate yeast bread recipe that I modified into a pull-apart loaf. It's sweet, melty, gooey, and with a cream cheese glaze drizzled over the top, reminiscent of your favorite red velvet desserts. As a plus, there are no hammer pants or bowl cuts in sight.

Tell me about your tackiest fashion choices (or the tackiest fashion "choices" imposed upon you by parents).

Chocolatey Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Chocolate Bread by Paula Oland of the Balthazar Bakery
Yield: 2 loaves

Pull-apart loaves are downright addictive. Each layer is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. This loaf is made from yeast dough with a sweet chocolate flavor, hunks of melty chocolate throughout, and a bright red hue! The cream cheese glaze kicks it right over the top. Schedule out the recipe in advance to allow for the rising/resting times and enjoy!

Bread Starter Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Red Velvet Yeast Bread Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup minus 3 tablespoons lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
vegetable oil for lightly oiling bowl

Filling Ingredients:
3/8 - 1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like things)
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli's 60% cacao)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cream Cheese Glaze Ingredients:
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 3 tablespoons milk as
mini chocolate chips for sprinkling

Note: In recipes that call for hunks of rising/resting time like this one, I like to draw out my schedule with different size boxes representing "hands on" and "hands off" prep time to get a visual feel for how long it will take. If you're a visual person like me, drawing out your schedule is a great technique to try! Otherwise, a good old fashion list of what you're doing at what time would also be beneficial.

Make bread starter: Dissolve the yeast in the 100-110 degree water for about 10 minutes. Completely mix in the flour. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it at room temperature to proof for around 6 hours.

Make red velvet yeast bread: Mix the cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 tablespoon water into a paste in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together the paste, flour, 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, water, and 1/4 cup of your bread starter (save the rest to use for other recipes). Let this mixture rest for 15 minutes.

Knead in the salt and butter and then knead for about 10 minutes by hand or about 4 minutes on a mixer fitted with a dough hook, or until smooth and elastic. Scoop dough out into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a dish cloth. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Leave the dough in the bowl at this point but fold it in thirds like you'd fold a letter. Recover it and let it rest for 30 more minutes.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Prepare two 7"x 3" x2" loaf pans by greasing them (I use Wilton's Cake Release, but you could also butter and flour them). Flour a large work surface. Use a dough scraper or sharp knife to help you cut your dough into halves. Turn out half of the dough onto your floured surface, keeping the other half covered.

Roll your dough out to a 15 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it's not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing.

Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar and chocolate chips over the top, patting them down to ensure they mostly stick. Some will inevitably fall out as you do the following steps -- just stuff 'em back in and don't worry too much about perfection.

With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips (do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then cutting each half into equal thirds. I used a pizza cutter). Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions (again, cut it in half, and then cut the halves into equal thirds). Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to double in size. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second half of dough.

While the dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it's risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark on top (if you take it out at light brown, it's liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool until just warm on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the cream cheese glaze: Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, and then add sugar and vanilla. Add the milk to thin it to drizzling consistency. Drizzle some of the glaze over the slightly warm bread (save the rest for drizzling over individual slices) and sprinkle it with mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately.

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58 Comments on Chocolatey Red Velvet Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

  1. Jamie
    March 26, 2012 at 1:24 am (4 years ago)

    I had a quasi-mullet for my First Communion. It was a little-longer-than-chin-length bob, but my mom was fixated on my having some shorter bits over my ears. Not. Cute.

    Most of my other fashion disasters were self-inflicted. I didn’t learn to dress myself until about age 24.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 1:37 am (4 years ago)


      I feel like I’m kind of still learning to dress myself. I frequently look at something I wore, say, a week ago and think, “Wait, that’s hideous.”

  2. Cookbook Queen
    March 26, 2012 at 1:53 am (4 years ago)

    My mom always insisted on me wearing dresses and slacks and “cute clothes” when all my friends were wearing pegged jeans and t shirts. Don’t parents know that all we want is to look like EVERYONE ELSE?!?!

    This bread is amazing. Gorgeous!!!!!

  3. Kelly
    March 26, 2012 at 2:15 am (4 years ago)

    My mother is the one with the fashion sense. I was glad to have her dress me.
    It’s going to take every ounce of self control for me to not make this bread immediately. I am actually here searching for bread recipes for my weekly loaf and this is calling me.
    *This is not a sandwich bread.*
    *This is not a sandwich bread.*
    *This is not a sandwich bread.*
    *This is not a sandwich bread.*

  4. Foodiewife
    March 26, 2012 at 2:29 am (4 years ago)

    Whoa…wait! You cut off your hair? Where’s the new do shot? In the meantime, I love this recipe. It’s so different, and so decadent…and so lovely. Just like you.
    Don’t get my started on “Lilt Perms”. Long before you were born. My head looked like a poodle cut. I was so embarrassed. I was in the 2nd grade, and cried when a boy told me it looked like a rat’s nest. That’s why I cannot stand to have curly hair, to this day– and I once owned a hair salon!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm (4 years ago)

      No, no — the short cut was when I was in first grade or so. The last time I had short hair was in about 3rd grade, probably due to being traumatized by it as a child. LOL.

      Aw, I bet your poodle perm was cute!

  5. Eric
    March 26, 2012 at 2:34 am (4 years ago)

    My mom made a lot of clothes for me and my brother as kids…you can always see us in photographs – we’re the bright neon green, yellow, and orange children. Sometimes, all at once.
    Although to be honest, I guess I made up for that in high school, when I wore nothing but black. So it balanced itself out.

    This recipe looks fantastic. My guy might have a bit of an obsession with red velvet cake (and yes, a bit with dolly parton as well), so this is definitely on the must-make list!

  6. Noey
    March 26, 2012 at 2:35 am (4 years ago)

    Pleated front jeans. Brightly colored penny loafers. Shoulder pads. Big floppy neck bows. Turtlenecks under sweater vests. Corduroy pants in screaming pink. Pleated wool plaid skirts. Super thick knitted tights. Horrible jumper dresses. Dresses that buttoned all the way down the front from neck to hem. Knobbly knee socks. That maroon pair of fake leather pants that were my older sisters and 10 years out of date. Huge plastic frame old lady glasses with a little sticker down in the corner of the left lens. And the most horrible bob hair cut known to mankind, complete with feathered bangs and side. My head could’ve flown away without me!

    Essentially my mom dressed me in every awful dorky trend the 1980s could puke up, with a ton of holdovers from the 70s via my sister’s hand me downs. No wonder I rebelled and learned fast how to dress myself by the time I was about 10!

  7. CulinarilyCourtney
    March 26, 2012 at 3:58 am (4 years ago)

    This is one of the most delicious reinterpretations of cinnamon sugar pull apart bread that I have seen! Great idea :)

    As for tacky fashion choices…I had a “punk” stage sparked by Avril Lavigne music videos when I was in 7th grade. I am not proud of this, haha.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Courtney!

      I think I had a private punk stage — I wasn’t brave enough to dress it, but I threw it in in little ways 😉

  8. DessertForTwo
    March 26, 2012 at 5:03 am (4 years ago)

    Awww I loved reading this.

    I have a vague memory of those stir-up pants. You know, kinda like the leggings of today with the strap to go under your foot? I think I wore a baggy shirt with it and one of those o-shaped clips to tie it off to the side. Remember shirts tied off to the side?!

    But, this bread, my lovely, is something else! A dessert trend always comes out, and then you take it and run with it and make it even better than the original. You always know just what to bake! :)

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm (4 years ago)

      I TOTALLY remember those pants AND those shirts tied off to the side! LOL. In fact, I kind of miss the shirt thing. Not so much the pants.

      Thanks, Christina :)

  9. Nicky @ Pink Recipe Box
    March 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm (4 years ago)

    This recipe sounds amazing and the pictures look fantastic!
    I was always made to have a horrible short bob hair-cut. The second I was old enough to refuse going to the hairdressers I did so and I’ve been growing my hair ever since.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Come on over! You can make me some of those Cappuccino Cheesecake Cake Bars. Oh my goodness. Thanks, Lauren :)

  10. Suzie
    March 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm (4 years ago)

    My mom got ‘inspired’ and made me a pair of red plaid flannel overalls in the early 80s. Neither plaid nor overalls were in fashion. Bless her, she did make a lot of really nice things, all well made, but I was already unpopular at school, and these didn’t help!

  11. Mariah
    March 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm (4 years ago)

    I had the bowl cut, with Catholic Plaid jumper and a scottie dog embroidered on my chest. The only thing that made it worse was that I thought I was the coolest thing ever.

    Oh, and bangs over my left eye. I thought I looked like Jessica Rabbit. You know, the 8-year-old version.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm (4 years ago)

      Ha, that’s exactly how I felt about my prom dress! It was bright red and sparkly and I knew I must look JUST like Jessica Rabbit. Pictures say no, definitely not.

      The scottie dog was a nice touch! LOL!

  12. Nicole {Sweet Peony}
    March 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm (4 years ago)

    OMG I think I just died. That looks amazing. Beyoooond amazing! omgomgomg… YUMMMM!

  13. Candy
    March 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm (4 years ago)

    What a wonderful idea! I love everything about this bread and must make it for my sister. She loves anything red velvet!

  14. Jeannette
    March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm (4 years ago)

    yes. just… yes!!!

  15. Joanne
    March 27, 2012 at 1:13 am (4 years ago)

    Oh man, so I think the real question is – what tacky item of clothing DIDN’T I wear? There were a LOT of stretch pants. And leotards. with patterns on them. It was awful.

    Red velvet cake may be tacky…but in that timeless kind of way. Love this.

  16. Averie @ Averie Cooks
    March 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm (4 years ago)

    Wow this looks so moist and just bursting with cakey bready goodness!

  17. Mom
    March 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm (4 years ago)

    What you fail to tell is that those clothes WERE what everyone was wearing back “in the day”…. Can’t tell you how many people complimented you on your clothes and hair!

    Payback, I guess… but this bread is torture for a GF person!! :(

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 2:12 am (4 years ago)

      LOL, well those people must have been old blind grandmas, Mom. Old, blind grandmas.

  18. jessica
    March 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm (4 years ago)

    mmm…Cannot wait to try this bread.

    I have a similar hair cut story, except mine started with me never wanting to brush my always tangled naturally curly hair. I was a tomboy, and all this hair brushing by my proper grandmother was really cramping my style. I mean how was I supposed to climb trees with these bows in my hair? Anyway, my hair became a huge nest of knots 3rd grade summer. Mom tried to comb them out, to no avail. She somehow decided to cut it herself. Um, did I mention she is not a hair dresser. It looked like something Edward Scissorhands did. I think even she was embarrassed, so she took me to a real hairdresser, who promptly cut the rest off. I ended up with a “boy” haircut, which does not at all work with naturally curly hair. To add insult to injury, I lost my two front teeth soon after, thus making the worst grade school photo ever. :) Oh, and mom loved hand me down’s…so my childhood looks like it occurred in the 70’s, when in fact it was the 80s. :)

  19. Deanna
    March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm (4 years ago)

    I had this pair of pants in middle school that literally had the New York skyline on them. And not in subtle colors. I thought they were the coolest pants ever. Then I went through an epic growth spurt (both out and up), and had to get rid of them. I saw a hipster wearing a pair a few years ago. Not a good look.

  20. Katie @OhShineOn
    March 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Whaaaaaat??? WHAT!? Pants-popping goodness!

  21. Jenny @ BAKE
    March 29, 2012 at 9:49 am (4 years ago)

    I’ve never really got the obsession with red velvet, which I feel I’m really missing out on! This looks really delicious, I may have a go at making the boring version minus the red food colouring because it looks to good to miss out on!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Red velvet in general is more than just a color — it does have it’s own distinctive flavor because of the hint of cocoa — but I understand the squeamishness about the food coloring, and red velvet just isn’t some folks’ thang. I love it — particularly a really moist red velvet cake!

      This bread would be delish without the food coloring as well — it’d be a straight-up chocolate pull apart. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that :)

  22. Cathy
    March 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm (4 years ago)

    Umm, yeah. I pinned this for my board on Pinterest, because, well, it looked amazing. Shortly after doing so, 24 people repinned it. I would expect that traffic to your website will be increasing quite a bit today. And thank you, this does look amazing.

  23. Amy
    April 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm (4 years ago)

    I had the same hammer-panted onesie!!! Mine was navy blue and the collar was white with a navy flower print. It was fourth grade and I actually liked the thing until the boy that sat in front of me in class started singing “Can’t Touch This.”

  24. Michael
    January 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm (3 years ago)

    O.M.G. Will you ship that to me? Seriously. I want like 700 pans of it right now. I need to make this pronto.


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