This Coconut Almond Pull-Apart Bread is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and I really want to spend a few paragraphs gushing about it.

But there’s no time to gush about it. BECAUSE CAT.

If you’re on Willow Bird Baking’s Facebook page (and if you’re not, you’re missing a lot of fun over there), you already know what I’m alluding to. But on the off chance you haven’t heard me crying from the rooftops of the interwebz: I GOT A CAT. CAT CAT CAT!

…introducing Huckle Buckle Beanstalk Ruble, also known as Buckle, also known as my new wittle smooshy-wooshy face.

He’s a buff colored, 11-pound, 1.5-year-old chunk of kitty love from the Charlotte Humane Society, and he’s made himself right at home in my apartment and in my heart.

Getting a cat has been on my mind for months, and I’ve scoured Petfinder and Humane Society websites for the perfect one. To be honest, though, I think all of my searching was in vain — because God dropped Buckle right into my lap.

Wonder how these photo shoots will go with kitty around? Hm.

My 6th graders and I take an annual field trip to the Humane Society to drop off the funds they raise by baking and selling dog treats. This year, given my months-long search, I knew the kitty room would hold a special attraction for me. I ended up cuddling a sweet gray kitten for much of the time there, but I knew he was someone else’s. In the first place, kittens get adopted very easily, so I felt compelled to adopt an adult cat. In the second place, the adult cats all had their adoption fees waived thanks to a donor’s generous gift to the Humane Society. Cost was definitely an obstacle for me since I have a steep a pet deposit at my apartment, so this seemed especially fortuitous.

I looked around a bit and saw a fat buff cat and an older orange cat I liked, but I wasn’t sure. I headed back on Saturday with Mike, though, and the buff cat not only purred just like one of Mike’s old cats, Motorboat, but he also seemed loving and laid back — perfect for introducing to Byrd! Before I knew what I was doing, I had him in a travel crate sitting in the adoption counselor’s office. I actually asked Mike, “What’s happening?! Are we doing this?!” Despite my months of research, it didn’t seem real.

There were so many doubts, but moment by moment since we walked in my apartment door together, Buckle has assuaged every one. He is just as sweet as a cupcake: a loving cuddlebug who seems to enjoy Byrd (and matches her coloring exactly, oddly enough!), catnip, and good scratching surfaces. I think the moment I felt the most sure about him was when I was lying in the floor earlier today watching him bat around a ball with Byrd. They were like two little buff colored peas in a pod.

Now that I’ve introduced you to my newest baby, maybe I can finally introduce you to this bread. I can’t really say enough about it: it’s got the most gorgeous, buttery, delicate flavor and texture. The glaze is rich and creamy and adds the perfect touch of decadence to the finished loaf. I think if I could pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, this would be it. Did I mention it was really, really delicious?

Have you ever rescued a pet?

P.S. Please feel free to weigh in with any and all kitty advice, websites, etc.!

One year ago: Chocolate & Coconut Cream Pie Bars
Two years ago: Quick Rosemary, Fig, and Goat Cheese Tarts
Three years ago: Clementine Cake

Buttery Coconut Almond Pull-Apart Bread (with Heavenly Coconut Cream Glaze)

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 2.5 – 3 loaves

If you love pull-apart bread, you’re gonna fliiiip. This yeast dough recipe is (I firmly believe) the best tasting yeast bread recipe in existence. My family uses it for everything. And this filling (buttery coconut almond goodness) is the best filling in existence. Combine them in a tender loaf that ends up with the texture of cinnamon-roll-insides and douse them in a heavy coconut cream glaze and, well. Let’s just say you’ll need to keep coming back to this recipe!

Dough Ingredients:
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups milk minus 2 tablespoons, room temperature
2/3 cup cold shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for after baking

Filling Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
7 ounces almond paste, grated or crumbled small
2 cups coconut
3/4 cup sugar

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Note on proofing: This yeast dough proofs overnight, gets shaped, and then the finished loaves proof for 2-3 more hours. Plan ahead for this amount of time.

Note on yield: I don’t recommend halving yeast recipes; instead, if you don’t want 2.5 or 3 loaves at once, consider freezing a loaf for later. The variation in the yield is the result of my error — I packed this recipe into 2 loaf pans and the loaves were so squished that they were hard to get baked completely. So in this recipe, I tell you not to oversquish — once your loaf pans are pleasantly stuffed, put the overflow dough into another loaf pan (mini or regular, however much extra you have) to bake. This way the loaves will bake correctly.

Note on freezing: To freeze an unbaked loaf, just wrap it well before the second rise and freeze it. Once frozen, pop it out of the pan all together and store in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and in a zip top bag or wrapped in foil. When you want to bake it, stick it back in a greased pan, thaw it in the fridge overnight, proof for the instructed amount of time, and bake like usual.

Make the dough: Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam for about 10 minutes. Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add milk up to the 2 cup line. Set this aside. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and cut the shortening into the mixture with two knives or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas. Stir yeast mixture and milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, kneading just a few turns. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and proof overnight in the fridge.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Grease three 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans and set aside. Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a microwave safe bowl and stir in coconut extract. In another bowl, mix together the grated almond paste, coconut, and sugar. Set these aside.

Gently cut the dough in thirds to work with. Flour a large work surface and turn your dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking and using more flour as needed. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing.

Spread about a third of the melted butter over the rectangle of dough. Then sprinkle about a third of the coconut/almond paste/sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks. Don’t skimp on the edges.

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’d use a pizza cutter or bench scraper). 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 (if it seems like you’re having to squish your layers too much to fit them all, don’t be afraid to leave a little out — it feels like a waste, but you don’t want an underdone loaf because you overpacked. Maybe you could make a baby loaf with the extra.) Repeat this rolling, filling, and cutting process with the other two portions of dough. Cover the loaf pans with clean, damp cloths and place them in a warm place for 2-3 hours to almost double in size.

After dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). Place the loaves in the center of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until dark golden brown on top (if you take them out at light golden brown, they’re liable to be raw in the middle, so let them get good and dark. If they doesn’t feel done in the middle when you poke them but they’re getting too dark, cover them with foil). Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pans while you make the glaze.

Make the Coconut Cream Glaze: Whisk together cream, powdered sugar, and extracts until smooth. Drizzle on warm loaves, reserving extra to serve on the side. Serve warm slices of loaf with berries of your choice.

31 Comments on Buttery Coconut Almond Pull-Apart Bread (with Heavenly Coconut Cream Glaze)

  1. Kate
    February 26, 2013 at 6:00 am (9 years ago)

    A HUGE congrats on your new addition! He looks like an absolute sweetie pie (with a great nickname… widdle smooshie wooshy face? that’s awesome.) My cat have always been adult kitties and shelter rescues. They’re like fine wines… they’ve had time to mellow out. I love ’em though. Very glad to hear that he and Byrd are getting along! Oh, and the bread looks fabulous, too… might try it this weekend! πŸ™‚

  2. Robyn
    February 26, 2013 at 11:47 am (9 years ago)

    Julie, mazel tov on the new family member! All our many pets through the years have been strays rescued from the street or adopted from folks who could not longer care for them. I think you did a great thing, you deserve to celebrate with a hunk of that bread!!

  3. Amanda @ The Dormestic Goddess
    February 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm (9 years ago)

    He’s beyond precious! Congrats! And so, SO happy he and Byrd get along – that’s always a huge risk and yours totally paid off! Baking this bread could totally pay off too! I’ve never seen a recipe quite like this one so I’m just going to have to give it a whirl!

  4. Always Wright
    February 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm (9 years ago)

    Buckle is absolutely gorgeous! So glad you found him and that he now has a good home! We have adopted several older dogs from shelters. They were fabulous pets! The very best! Now we have Buddy. He was saved by our daughter’s phone call-literally! He’s a Chow-Golden Retriever mix and is such a love! Enjoy your beautiful cat for many years! Also, I love your recipes!

  5. Marci Johnson
    February 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm (9 years ago)

    Congratulations on the addition to the family. I love sweet kitties. They are the best and he will bring such balance to your family!!

  6. Cookbook Queen
    February 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m so excited that you got a cat!!! Yay!!

    And hello, most amazing bread I’ve ever seen in all my born days.

  7. Sarah @ Miss CandiQuik
    February 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm (9 years ago)

    Aww, I love your story! So glad you were able to save this cat in desperate need…we adopted a little pitbull mix puppy from a family that was going to give it up and it’s the greatest feeling! Ok, anyways, I’m a sucker for animals and could go on and on. Your bread looks divine and I am adding this to my list of things to bake! πŸ™‚

  8. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough
    February 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm (9 years ago)

    Goooo Buckle is ADORABLE! We have a kitty that we adopted from the local shelter and I love him with all my heart. πŸ™‚ Congrats on your new addition to the fam!

    Also, this pull-apart bread? GIMME.

  9. Jen S
    February 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm (9 years ago)

    That looks amazing! Sorry for asking about your dish on facebook! Like I said I am kind of nuts about it!

    This is a lovely photo of you and your new baby! I love how soft his colors are. And that face!

  10. sbg
    February 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m pretty sure this is how photo shoots will go.

    Also, that looks delicious. Mmmm, coconut.

  11. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    February 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm (9 years ago)

    This bread sounds absolutely delicious, Julie. I have been meaning to try this whole pull apart bread trend that I’ve seen popping up – sweet or savory, they all look so good!
    I adopted my golden lab, Bella from our local humane society a couple of years ago. Like you, I had done a bunch of research and actually saw Bella on the humane society website. I fell in love with her different colored eyes and the little part of her nose that was missing due to the frostbite she had when she was rescued. I went in the next day but she was in the process of being adopted by another family. I was disappointed, but decided that it just wasn’t meant to be. A few days later, I checked the website again and Bella’s photo was back on it. I called the humane society, sure that there had been a mistake, but I was informed that Bella had been returned the day before, as the family had decided that her puppy habits weren’t a good fit for their two little children (she apparently liked to nip quite a bit). I went in after work that day and suddenly found myself, two hours later, the proud owner of a crazy little puppy who stole my heart. I think that in the end, I was meant to save her. She’s been a great companion ever since. Congratulations on becoming a kitty mama to Buckle, he’s a lucky boy!

  12. Marcia
    February 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm (9 years ago)

    Congrats, Buckle is so pretty! I rescued my Cali, a golden retriever when she was 6 months old. Whoever had her first didn’t know how to house train a puppy. She was afraid to go inside and out. It was difficult to watch her fear of getting in trouble, and she would hold it for 10 hours. She is now 5 years old and very happy, and very spoiled! I wish you many years of happiness with Buckle. This bread looks delicious!!! I might try this very soon!

  13. Natasha
    February 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm (9 years ago)

    Cats are the BEST. I am super obsessed with my cat, and I’m totally ok with it because he is awesome. This bread, too, is awesome. Coconut cream glaze?? Umm yes please!!

  14. Colette @ JFF!
    February 27, 2013 at 6:28 am (9 years ago)

    Oh, look @ that………. Entemann’s is in big trouble.

  15. Heather
    February 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm (9 years ago)

    I’ve had many cats in my life, but Buckle may be the cutest cat I have ever seen!! That face just makes you want to kiss him! (But please don’t tell my two cats I said that.) Congratulations on your new baby!

  16. Becky
    February 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm (9 years ago)

    Yay kitty! Buckle is adorable, and it warms my heart to see Charlotte area pets get adopted πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    My husband and I adopted two kitties back in September, from Carolina PAWS. They’re the ones who hold the adoption events at the Blakeney Petsmart! Such an awesome rescue group. Our kitties, while sisters, are as different as night and day….but so much fun. Mischievous little buggers πŸ˜€

    This is the first time I posted, but I have been reading your blog for almost a year now. Great to see a fellow foodie Charlottean!

  17. Natasha @ The Cake Merchant
    February 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm (9 years ago)

    I love the combination of blueberry and coconut! This bread looks amazing.
    Congrats on your new addition! He looks a lot like my Archie. I have 2 rescue cats, and just got a rescue puppy on Monday! My favorite book on cats is called Think Like A Cat. It helped me a ton when I got my kitties.

  18. Gail
    February 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm (9 years ago)

    It just doesn’t get any better than this…a new rescue kitty & a yummy treat!

    My newest addition joined us about a month ago. Not exactly a rescue kitty; his owner decided he would be better off in a new home (?) & when I heard he was going to the local shelter unless a home was found I took the plunge. At age 12 I knew he would never make it out of a shelter:( My new boy had only one owner so transition was tough. He hid under a chair for 2 weeks & only came out @ night to eat & to use his litter box. FINALLY, a breakthrough after buying a diffuser with kitty pheromones in it. Within 24 hrs…a completely different cat! I HIGHLY reccomend this type of diffuser…works miracles!

    Can’t wait to try the bread recipe; enjoy your new friend!

  19. Jen
    February 28, 2013 at 2:05 am (9 years ago)

    After years of cat ownership, my family is convinced that male orange tabbies make the best pets, because they are all just SO sweet! Looks like your guy definitely fits into that category. Congratulations!

  20. Kate
    February 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm (9 years ago)

    Buckle has such a sweet face; he looks exactly like my Eli (minus the wonky deformed ear) and your description of him seems like the two could be related somehow, through their big purring hearts or buff, sandy-colored fur.

    All the cats I’ve owned in the last 20 years have been rescue cats, adults that look up at you from their perch, their eyes quiet but focused, silently begging you to look again, to reach out and touch their fur. I firmly believe that we are all paired serendipitously with the right pet, and often it’s the pet that chooses us when we arrive in their lives. All three cats that have graced my life as as adult have chosen me in various ways, from snagging my leg with a claw, to climbing in my lap, to walking right over to me and butting their head against my shin. They know who their human needs to be, and once in your life, they’ll remind you daily of how lucky you are.

    It sounds like you don’t really need that much advice; love is all they want, and a few warm spots to sleep. A window to gaze out of, and someone with a compassionate heart to know them well enough to understand when something just isn’t right with them. You’ll be a fantastic kitty mom. Because you already are.

  21. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen
    February 28, 2013 at 10:43 pm (9 years ago)

    I’ve been wanting a dog FOREVER. I wonder what my hubby would think if I started to actively pursue it…

  22. Sally
    March 2, 2013 at 1:53 am (9 years ago)

    Your cat looks so cute! And that pull-apart pull apart bread is absolutely delicious. I’m usually not a fan of coconut this was soo good. Great post!


  23. Barb
    March 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm (9 years ago)

    My rescue cat Issac has been with us for 15 years. He is now 18 and is showing his age. My husband gave me a littler box one year for Christmas and told me I could go to the shelter and pick out a cat. Best present ever! Congrats on your new kitty!

  24. Laura Dembowski
    March 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm (9 years ago)

    Okay, this looks crazy good! I always want to try pull aparts but they get so brown around the edges. This one looks perfect and moist and yummy! Congrats on the cat too! He is adorable and will certainly make a great addition to your home πŸ™‚

  25. vanillasugarblog
    March 4, 2013 at 1:57 am (9 years ago)

    coconut cream glaze!!!
    oh hello you sexy glaze you

  26. vanillasugarblog
    March 4, 2013 at 1:58 am (9 years ago)

    and congrats on the cat.
    i’m sorry i was distracted by all your coconut cream glaze foodporn-ness

  27. okino
    March 5, 2013 at 8:20 am (9 years ago)

    Your site is really nice, and this pull-apart bread looks delish. I love your photos, very professional.

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh Buckle is just a lovely ‘blooji’ boy. When I see adorable kitty guys like him the made up word ‘blooji’ comes to mind. He’s a blooooj. A gloobu blooj.
    I better stop, but really he looks so so cute and huggable. Congrats on getting him and thank you for rescuing~

    My dear darling Berty was a rescue cat. He was huge and black and loveable. He weighed like 11kg, seriously. I had him for 7 years, the longest I ever had a cat. He died last year and I miss him so.

    As for kitty sites, I don’t know but check out those huge cat books at the library πŸ˜‰

    Good luck!


Leave a reply to Heather Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *