Pull-Apart Orange Bread, or the best hostess gift ever


My friend Miranda of Narrating Life is hosting a blog hop today.

And the topic is hostess gifts.

And since that is the funnest topic ever and since Miranda is a darling, of course I was thrilled to join in the blog hopping fun.

Also because I happen to know what the best hostess gift ever is.

No contest.

I know because I got it last week. It is breakfast.

Think about it, you just turned over your entire house to houseguests or worked the day away in the kitchen for dinner guests. What is the last thing you want to do the morning you wake up after all that fun?

Make more food. But you want to eat food. So this is where the hostess gift comes in.

After having a houseful of houseguests last week I woke up the next morning to find my sneaky SIL had cleaned everything and my sneaky little sister had made me a wonderful ooey layered loaf of this amazing bread.

That’s right, thanks to the baking brilliance of Joy the Baker and my sweet sister I pulled the kids out of bed the next day and sat down to this amazing thing.

Of course I did not take a photo of our delicious pull apart cinnamon bread because I was too busy pulling it apart.
and eating it.
all of it.
by noon.
But it was such the perfect breakfast (and lunch) that we couldn’t wait even a week before making one for ourselves. This time, we used my favorite orange roll recipe from Martha and made the recipe Joy’s pull apart style and it was pure heaven.

Pull Apart Orange Bread
Based on Joy’s Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread
and Martha’s Orange Rolls

2 envelopes active yeast (2 scant tablespoons)
1/4 cup warm water mixed with a pinch of sugar
1 cup scalded milk, cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Vegetable oil cooking spray, for bowl and tins

1. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over sugar water; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, granulated sugar, salt, half the zest, and shortening. Slowly add flour, mixing until combined. Knead until shiny and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.

2. If you’re making the dough the night before, like I did, so it is all set to roll and bake in the morning, this is the part where you can cover your dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make filling: In a small bowl, mix remaining zest, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, and butter. On a well-floured work surface, gently knead dough 3 to 4 times to release air pockets. Roll out dough to an 18-by-14-inch rectangle, dusting with flour as needed. Brush some of the filling over bottom half; fold to enclose. Brush half with filling, and fold again to enclose. Let rest about 5 minutes.
4. Lightly roll out dough again to a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush half with remaining filling, and fold. Cut into squares. Place squares in coated pan (I used my new IKEA bread pan, which I love), with layers facing up. Let rise until almost doubled in bulk, 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Bake until golden, about 30–35 minutes. Remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes in pan, then transfer loaf to a cooling rack.

6. Make a thick icing by whisking together remaining 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and the juice. Drizzle over loaf. Pull apart and taste pure heaven.
Your blog hopping fun has just begun. Be sure to pick up more hostess gift inspiration today from these lovely ladies.
Marisa, Make Happy // Joy, Simply Bloom // Jocelyn, Inside BruCrew // Michelle, Chez Moi


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Marisa June 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I think you’re right. Breakfast IS the best hostess gift ever! Amazing idea!


Lee June 20, 2011 at 3:26 am

This is something I definitely have to try!


Kelly D June 20, 2011 at 8:11 am

Hi, AmberLee.
Big fan of your blog, so when I came upon this dilemma I immediately thought of you! I am stumped as to how to properly send off some friends and their children (12, 10, 2 boys) on a move to Hawaii. I thought you might have going away ideas for someone moving far away. I don’t want to give them something they have to physically move and instead was trying to brainstorm ideas that would help them acclimate once they arrive. Any suggestions?


AmberLee June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

ooh, Kelly, that is such a thoughtful idea. Do you mind if I put it out there as a reader question?


Alice June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

We are packing our things for a move to Alaska. While we can drive MOST of the way, our home will be in the bush, so we are moving through the Postal Service. I imagine your HI friends are doing something similar. That means all the bedding, large furniture, dishes, bakeware, etc is packed and gone before they are. I suggest (if this is a BEST friend) putting them up in a hotel for a night… or paper plates and utensils, food cards, dinner in throw away pans, or bake them this delicious breakfast! Food is the hardest part of moving so far. Can’t wait to see if you get more responses!


mandy June 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

oh, this would make a lovely gift for new mothers as well!


Jess June 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Okay, this looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it!


Hannah Craner June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Um…you can stay at my house anytime, friend. This looks amazing! I will be trying soon!

Also, thank you for your thoughtful email. I’m just seeing it now, but I’m working on a response.


Cathy June 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Yum! This looks delicious!


Charlotte June 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm

What a delicious gift! I’ll have to try this out!


michelle June 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Well, this does look like a bit of heaven! I was tempted by Joy’s pull-apart bread, but I am even more tempted by your orange version…


Teresa June 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

My daughter and I made it this morning and oh my, it is delicious!


Joy June 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

This looks scrumptious!! And I adore Joy the Baker…she’s delightful. Thanks for sharing! {your photos are fabulous!}


Pixel Berry June 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Whoa, this looks completely delicious!


Monica June 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Wow!! That looks soooo yummy!


Miranda June 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm

HOLY YUM AMBERLEE! Your logic about how breakfast is the perfect hostess gift is flawless. And I am dying to make this…maybe tomorrow? This weekend for sure. Thanks for blog hopping with me dear!


bujuterii argint June 27, 2011 at 6:19 am

I can smell it from here and almost taste it. It will be the perfect breakfast!


Jake & Jess June 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

I am a huuuuge fan of orange sweetness so as soon as I read the post I told my hubby we should mak it soooon. And we did, this last weekend. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It was mouthwateringly delicious. We’ve even decided to make it for our future overnight guests!


Kallie August 7, 2011 at 8:01 am

Made this today. So delish!! My husband and I LOVED it. Thanks.


AmberLee August 11, 2011 at 6:20 am

Kallie, I’m so happy you liked the bread! Thanks for taking a moment to come back and let me know!


Ivy Tao September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am

Hi AmberLee,
I made this yummy orange bread last night and OMG, it was delish. I was in heaven just smelling the orange zest and amazing on how fast the bread doubled in size. It was so much fun to make. When I was first kneading the dough, the dough was very tacky. It was sticking to the counter top. Is there a trick to this? How long should we knead the dough before it is not tacky? Maybe I should have put it in the fridge. ~ Ivy

P.S. I love your website. It is truly divine.


AmberLee October 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I somehow lost your comment (your sweet awesome comment, thank you!!) in my archives. I’m happy the orange bread was yummy. And I’m not a complete pro baker, but I find that usually pretty tacky dough is a good thing, it means you didn’t overdo the flour. When my dough is especially tacky, I just add flour to my countertop freely, and knead away, until it is barely not tacky enough to be a disaster. Then I stop adding flour. I hope that helps!! If you find a good trick, I’d love to hear.


amy January 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

I found this recipe from Pinterest and I just love it! I’ve made it now at least half a dozen times and always get such high compliments.


amee January 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Sooooo….I tried this. I had put it on my to do list forever. I made the dough and waited it to rise. And it didn’t rise. grrr. I must mention that (1) I do not bake ever and (2) and am horrible about following driections which is a problem that dates back to kindergarten. But i’m also stubborn, so I made the dough again that same day. which meant that i needed to buy new and better yeast and i also needed to buy more oranges. So to anyone else who’s just like me, I cannot stress that you must have sugar in the warm water for the yeast. Yes, i know the directions say that already, lol. After the dough rises, it’s pretty straightforward, but next time I might add a little extra flour when rolling it out. I found it a little difficult to handle, roll, cut, stack, etc. Finally, out of the oven it was golden and delish, just as the pictures promise here. However, my dough was still rather raw and yeasty in the middle so i needed to bake it longer and i covered it with foil at the end so that the “layers” didn’t burn, since they had already browned by the 30 minute mark.

Thanks so so much for sharing this recipe. I do enjoy your blog and congratulations on your 4th pregnancy! very exciting.


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