Sourdough Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

sourdough garlic pull apart bread
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If you are looking for a fun baking project, this is it! A simple enriched dough, naturally leavened of course, and filled with garlic, basil and cheese. This is a garlic bread minus the butter. If you thought you are going to miss the butter worry not! Because all that butter is in the dough.

This recipe feeds about four people but if you are serving this as a side dish it could feed a larger crowd, I’d say about 8-10. It is not just a fun thing to bake but would make a decorative table centerpiece.


I went with a very simple garlic, herb(basil) and olive oil paste because I wanted to hero the garlic and not the herb. But feel free to use other herbs or if you are not a garlic fan, make it just herbs…something like basil pesto would be a great alternative.

I used two cheeses. Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I didn’t want to use just cheddar as it could be too strong but still wanted the cheesy gooeyness so mixed it up with a mild cheese. Again feel free to use your favorite melty cheese. Go easy with salty cheeses.

Cheesy garlic pull apart bread

Same day/overnight proof

Just like most sourdough recipes, you can bake this on the same day. If you start early enough, then this can go in the oven just in time for dinner. But nevertheless always refrigerate the dough for about two hours after the bulk fermentation just to harden the dough. This dough has a lot of butter so the texture will be too soft for shaping and cutting (yes there is dough cutting involved). Some time in the fridge will help harden that butter making the dough manageable.

If you are into sourdough flavor and benefits, then you’d definitely go for a overnight(long) slow proof in the refrigerator. When you pull out the dough, you’ll find it very stiff (same with brioche doughs). In that case leaving it at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes will help soften the dough a bit.

A cold dough is easier to roll out and work with. The longer you handle the dough, the softer it will become and it might start to get sticky and tacky. So working quickly once the dough is out is a must. Make sure you have everything ready to go before rolling out the dough!


Make the levain before hand ( about 4-6 hours prior)

Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature for best results. Specially the butter.


Add the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix using a ‘paddle’ attachment until everything comes together. Then use the dough hook and knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes

It will become smooth like shown in the picture.

Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes


Then knead some more by hand until it becomes fairly smooth and less sticky.

Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely and place in a warm place until doubled in size. May take about 4 hours at 27-28 °C. In colder temperatures this may take longer.

bulked dough

Bulked dough would look bigger and fluffier. Bulk help yeast multiply and so we will have a nice and fast proof and a good oven spring

punch down

Punch the dough down (de-gas) mold into a tight dough ball. Place in an air tight container and refrigerate for the slow fermentation.

During the slow fermentation, yeast will continue to multiply further but at a very slow phase. So you won’t notice much of a difference. Lactic acid bacteria will also multiply adding flavor (lactic acid).

Read the post above for same day bake!


If the dough is too stiff let it sit at room temperature with you prepare the filling

For the filling you need a handful of fresh basil, 6-7 garlic cloves (or more) about 2 tbsp. olive oil

use melted butter if you don’t like oil

garlic paste

Using a mortar and a pestle, grind everything until it becomes pasty. It doesn’t have to be smooth just spreadable. Big chunks are okay.


Grate the cheese and set aside. About half a cup each or more if you feel like it 😉

proofed dough
egg washed, proofed dough
roll out the dough

When the dough is malleable, take it onto a floured surface and start rolling out

rolled out dough

This is roughly 30cm by 40cm and thickness is about 2-3mm.

The size doesn’t have to be exact, you just need a rectangular shape. Don’t roll out too thin as the dough might tear when you spread filling

If you feel like the dough is getting too soft and difficult to work with, lift and place on a tray carefully and refrigerate for about 10 minutes

spread the garlic

Spread the garlic, basil paste

add cheese

Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly

roll the dough

Roll the dough length wise into a log

Place this diagnally on a tray lined with parchment


This is how the finished pattern will look like. This is now ready for the final proof.

Cover loosely and place in a warm area. When it looks puffed up, it’s ready for the oven. Check the next pic.

May take about 3-4 hours. Towards the end of the proof, preheat the oven to 400°F

proofed dough

Proofed dough will look plump and there will be less of a gap between the petals.

Egg wash and place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. Turn the tray at 20 minutes mark.

baked bread

When the bread golden brown, it is done!

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving.

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  1. Thank you very much for this recipie. I used butter instead of oil and mixed herbs from my garden and both times I’ve made it they have turned out wonderfully soft. Just such a spectacular addition to a dinner table.

  2. Hi – I wante to check, the 100gm mature starter listed in the recipe – is that in addition the levain or is that the levain?

    1. Yes 100g starter is from the levain/starter that you make ahead of time. Some call it levain and others call it starter so I use both words. It is essentially the same thing, a good concentration of yeast to levain or rise your dough.

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