Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread

Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread |

Here we are, home in the woods.

There’s nearly a foot of snow on the ground as I write this and the sky doesn’t look like it’s fixing to quit time soon. Erin Brockovich, my favorite movie of all time is playing and I’m perched on the windowsill by the fireplace waiting for a certain Elk that I know lingers around the house to make an appearance.

Loveliness and prettification has NEVER been my schtick, and I hate that the summary of my morning sounds like an Eddie Bauer catalog or one of those instagram accounts that are all leather goods and falling leaves –– BUT life out here does feel good. For all the confused looks we got for making this leap, there is nothing I’ve felt so sure about, next to marrying Shaun. We definitely didn’t know how life would change when we waved goodbye to the city, but we knew it would, and that it would for the better. They say “wherever you go, there you are,” which is true. We brought our same soggy hearts and issues and questions up the canyon with us, but… yeah… and HERE we are, choosing the front row to our own lives and experiences, away from that which no longer serves. I think the “there” can hold more water than we care to admit. But I’m biased. The mountains are my church. It’s impossible to not step outside, breathe deep, and get hit with this rush of perspective. For the first time in a very long time, I think I recognize the sound of my heartbeat again.

There’s this pull-apart bread I’ve been sitting on a while, though. I made it a month ago, the last shoot in the old place. I was feeling that sort of manic-compulsive desire to bake and make a wholly sticky mess of a half-packed kitchen (pro tip: wine bottles make A+ rolling pins). I’m the kind of person who turns to baking when things feel totally psychedelic and out of control. Unlike throwing together something grainy, herby, green-ish, crunchy, tangy in a bowl and calling it a masterpiece, baking requires a high degree of rule-following that tends to turn me off on most days (in the kitchen, and in life). But I appreciate the precision. The requisite patience. The attention to detail. I crave it when everything else in the world feels topsy turvy. I promise the pay-off is big on this one, guys.

Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread |

Fig + Anise Pull-Apart Bread 

For the dough (slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman): 

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup (additional) AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • dash of salt 



  • 2 cups dried mission figs, soaked + softened
  • 2 Tbsp ground anise seed
  • 10 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread |

Preheat oven to 350’ F.

Start with the dough. Combine milk and butter in a small sauce pan. Heat until just beginning to steam. Turn off and remove from heat. Stir in yeast and 1/2 cup sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. In a stand mixer with a bread hook or in a large bowl with wooden spoon, stir together liquid with 4 cups of flour. Wait an hour for the dough to rise, then add 1/2 cup additional flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place figs in a bowl of warm water to soften for 20 minutes. Strain, dry, and place in the basin of a food processor or a immersion blender. Add anise, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Blend until a sticky paste forms. Add more butter or a bit of milk to thin if necessary. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Spread fig/anise paste evenly until it covers all of the dough. WARNING: the next phase is extremely messy. It’s unavoidable. Just have fun with it. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 strips, then stack all the strips into one stack. Cut the stack of strips into 6 slices. Place the stacks sideways into a buttered bread pan. If you’re me, you will probably feel the need to shove things in the holes… Dee recommends against this, but hey… it doesn’t always have to be pretty to taste good.

Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes and then check to make sure the top is not browning. Test the center… are things still gooey in there? Cover with tin foil and continue to bake for 10, 15, 20 minutes.

Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.comFig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread |

  1. Sara

    Your line about feeling the need to bake when things feel out of control really resonates with me. I have noticed this tendency in myself lately. And why wouldn’t it be calming, really? It is creating something out of nothing and there is always a little magic in that, even if you’ve done it hundreds of times.


  2. Leah

    I envy you the solitude! Sounds just lovely. Enjoy your time in the woods, a little less stressed, a little more present. And this recipe looks lovely – I’ve never made anything like it. Thanks for sharing the inspiration.


  3. holly

    This is exactly how I’ve felt for the past year. As much as I have to say about the extraordinary highs + lows of this year—the things I’ve learned, re-learned + bawled my salty eyes out over—something keeps me from writing about them. And that is okay. To have survived with a sense of humor is perhaps, enough.

    Sending major mountain hugs. And ooh girl, this bread. Yes puh-lease.


  4. Sarah

    Congratulations on your new journey in the mountains. Reading your post has made me pause to think about the rush and hurry of everything going on in my life and I can sense the peace in your new spot. This pull apart bread sounds like the next thing I need in my belly – figgy bread? You win.


  5. Angy

    The selfish, they’re all standing in line…
    Faithing and hoping and to buy themselves time.
    Me, I figure as each breath goes by,
    I only own my mind.

    The north is to south what the clock is to time.
    There’s east and there’s west and there everywhere lying.
    I know I was born and I know that I’ll die.
    The in between is mine.
    I. am. mine.

    And the feeling that gets left behind…
    All the innocence lost at one time…
    Significant behind the eyes, there’s no need to hide.
    We’re safe tonight.

    The ocean is full ’cause everyone’s crying,

    The full moon is looking for friends at high tide.
    The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrows denied.
    I only know my mind.
    I. am. mine.

    And the meaning that gets left behind…
    All the innocence lost at one time.
    Significant behind the eyes, there’s no need to hide…
    We’re safe tonight.

    And the feelings that gets left behind…
    All the innocence fucking with lies.
    Significant between the lines, we may need to hide.
    And the meanings that gets left behind…
    All the innocence lost at one time.
    We’re all different behind the eyes.
    There’s no need to hide, yeah.

    Eddie Vedder


  6. Kristin @ Tasty Joy

    This bread looks heart-warming and delicious! I really like the layering method; my pull-apart bread is usually just cut into chunks and piled into a form, but your method really adds to the presentation!


  7. Kathryn

    I’m so inspired by your courage and bravery to take that leap into the unknown and make your home together in the mountains. And yes to letting this sit for a while before. Sometimes I struggle with the balance between authenticity and opening up but, as ever, you straddle that line so perfectly.


  8. Mallory

    You are doing it right. Not that you need anyone to tell you that but one can just tell that you are. Congrats on taking the leap and stepping into your own – an inspiration to the rest of us trudging through. And the bread….OH THE BREAD!


  9. molly yeh

    this is EPIC! an elk?!!! can i please come visit, can i can i??


  10. Ashley

    Even without knowing you all that well (yet ;)) as soon as I heard about your move, I thought…”well that makes sense.” Happy you can hear your heart again. xo


  11. Elizabeth

    I love how the light in the photos mirrors the cold, snowy gloom you describe. I’ve been craving an exodus lately from my own little city. I love your honestly in saying that you’ve brought your issues with you there, but still, it sounds so good to strip aways all the things you *can* leave behind and just get a good breath of clean air and an eyeful of nature.


  12. Sini

    Cheers to your move to the woods! Snow, elks, and wilderness? You win. Cheers to baking as a way to find balance again, and cheers to this oh so lovely sounding, fig-loaded pull-apart bread! These pics…it’s like I want to cuddle up to that soft dough and sticky filling.


  13. cynthia

    Just insanely beautiful, in sentiment, words, photos, recipe, everything. That pull-apart bread looks to-die for, and your move sounds like it was just what you two needed. Wishing you all the best in your new era!!


  14. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    I had my first panic attack lately and I made a fruit pizza. So I understand the baking thing :) But from what you’re writing it sounds like a beautiful place. There’s no snow over here in Berlin, not yet, but I can wait :) The bread is amazing. I was sure that it is a chocolate filling but I prefer fig one. Beautiful pictures!


  15. Laurel T

    Oh just what the doctor ordered…we have a black fig tree in the back yard and we had a boat load of fruit that is currently clogging my freezer (couldn’t give it all away)…I have been collecting fig recipes and yours is first on my to do list, the flavor combination seems just right for comfort food, especially with Southern CA temps dipping below the 65 degree mark in the evenings now (heh heh I am a transplanted New Yorker; still can’t get over what they call winter here)…


  16. Amanda

    Here’s to letting a little loveliness mosey into the yard. It isn’t so bad…


  17. marcia

    ahh, we just had our first snowfall yesterday and this fit right in with the vibes of your posts. (now i desperately want to do some baking, whoops). and this recipe! I’m so going to have to try it– it looks divine.


  18. Shannon

    Beautifully expressed. When I recently moved back to a small town in Maine from California, I was totally unsure if it was right. My perception of others perceptions (ridiculous, I know) clouded my experience. I wish I’d had your confidence about it. I’m learning it now.


  19. thefolia

    What a beautiful mess! (The process not the outcome of course…yummy!) Happy Nesting.


  20. Katrina Alfano

    I am about to put this in the oven. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


  21. kyle

    love this so much! so glad that your heart is happy out there in the wild- that’s where I can recognize the sound of my heartbeat too 😉 be well.


  22. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    Not only does this sound delicious, but it also look divine…


  23. Valeria | Life Love Food

    I grew up in a remote place and learnt the beautiy and the dread of silence and solitude. I live in London now, and I have a constantly bipolar relationship with its frantic life, multitude of stimuli, chaos, people, and astonishing energy. It pushes me further, but I arrive exhausted, drained. As as introvert, I recharge by staying indoor or walking through a deserted forest (which are plentiful just minutes outside of the city). Which kind of defeats the point of living here, where the little spare time shall be filled with all kind of ‘entertaining activities’ that are enriching and ca only be found here: eating in the best restaurants, going and seeing the shows, the markets, the exhibit, the one-off pop up. I love and hate it. But I am blocked by the fear that I would hate another place even more – I far the dull, the boring, the never-surprising. Huge cheers to you both for making this brave choice and standing by it, there is nothing better in the world than that feeling of knowing exactly where you belong. On baking: I also have been doing lots of yeasted sweet dough baking lately, and this is right up my alley. It looks stunning, and possibly a great journey companion into new adventures? Thank you for sharing your beautifully written sentiments. x


  24. Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    Life in the mountains sounds wonderful. And this bread looks heavenly!


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  26. jillian

    Your lovely words make me realize that I’ll go back someday too. I don’t think I knew how strongly I felt about it until I read them. Thank you for the reminder.


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  28. kristie -birchandwild

    “The mountains are my church. It’s impossible to not step outside, breathe deep, and get hit with this rush of perspective. For the first time in a very long time, I think I recognize the sound of my heartbeat again.”

    after spending six years as a baker in a backcountry lodge in alberta, i understand this so well. i found my love, my soul and myself in the rocky mountains. i have left the rockies now (but have moved to some other beautiful mountains, the kootenays), but i still visit periodically and always feel my heart swell in the midst of all that majesty.

    congratulations on the move. this bread looks absolutely beautiful.


  29. Nik@ABrownTable

    You have an elk, I’m jealous! I bet the anise smells wonderful when the bread is baked. Gorgeous work as always.


  30. Danielle

    This bread looks perfect! And that snow day light in the photos… beautiful. Inspired to cook today (and be grateful for snow) after reading this.


  31. Norma @ allspice and nutmeg

    It sounds you live in a beautiful place. This bread looks and sounds incredible. Love it.


  32. Thea @ Baking Magique

    This pull apart bread looks fabulous! And I love your writing. Some blogs I read just because of the photos but I read yours for the photos, recipes and texts. I also turn to baking when everything is a complete mess and I can’t think clear. x


  33. Millie | Add A little

    Holy shiz this looks so insane!


  34. Sarah | little house pantry

    I’m envious of your move. Part of me so wants to leave the city behind, but can’t bring myself to do it. I grew up in a wild, rural spot and once you’ve experienced that life it’s hard to be fulfilled elsewhere I think. Enjoy!


  35. Jordan @ The Balanced Blonde

    As always… TOO BEAUTIFUL FOR WORDS. And yes, “wherever you go, there you are,” is definitely the most true statement I believe in. I just love it and the sentiment behind it. Love hearing about your new life in the woods. :)



  36. Sabrina

    Thank you, always, for your beautiful honesty–both in words and photography.


  37. julia | all the little things

    amen to taking the front row to your own life, being your own biggest advocate and taking responsibility for the direction you want your life to head – there is nothing more important. thank you for the lovely reminder, kelsey.


  38. Trish

    Love this recipe and your blog, I would love to follow you, is it me? I can’t see how to do that……


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  40. Renee H.

    What a beautifully rustic dish! This would be perfect for the holidays. I included your link to this recipe in my Thanksgiving recipe post. I have never had this type of pull-apart bread before! I am looking forward to trying it- I will let you know how it goes!


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  43. margaret

    couldn’t help but think of this song as I read your words:
    (Trusty and True by Damien Rice ).


  44. Alycia@foodblogit

    This bread looks fabulous! I’m always in search of exciting bread recipes. it’s one of my weaknesses!! Thank you so much for this post!!


  45. Pig and Potato

    The bread looks heavenly! I, too, moved far away from home. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I’ve never felt more myself. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


  46. omlet

    Looks amazing!


  47. Maëva

    I discovered your blog very recently and went through it all in one day.
    Your recipes are heartwarming and the photos are of very good quality.
    Needless to say i’ll try that Pullapart bread as soon as possible.


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  52. Beauty Follower

    Huge fan of anise bread (and Tsipouro drink with anise)!


  53. cavoletto

    Love love love this post! So beautiful!! Just made a savory kale pesto and tuscan cheese pull apart bread the other day, I’m ready for a new recipe, this will totally fit my bill! :-)


  54. Hannah & Eating with Alice

    Yum! This is exactly what I feel like for breakfast tomorrow morning!


  55. Carol

    i really love your blog, it’s amazing!


  56. rich

    I just found your blog looking for bread recipes to make for my fiance for the holidays and she loves figs. This will be great. I love your photography also. Great blog, will follow.


  57. Meg

    Where is your subscribe button please?


  58. Mayple

    Ah looks so good! wish I could have some here but I’m miles and miles away. In the meantime I’ll have to manage with snacks from around the world. I’m using, do you know it?


  59. eliza

    My mom made some time ago, something like this, but this recipe must great! thanks for sharing, eliza.


  60. luis

    Drop dead gorgeous website, and gorgeous recipe — from a fellow baker who understands the whys.


  61. Laura

    Do you think the type of pan would make a difference? (Stoneware vs metal vs glass?) I don’t know why I thought of that — just indecisive lately, I guess! I have glass and metal that I’m deciding between. Super excited to make this. The texture of that filling looks amazing. The trick will be not to eat this all on my own…. :)


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