I love love LOVE yeast bread.

And, thanks to an early introduction to yeast baking courtesy of the book Beard on Bread, I've been baking with yeast for over 35 years. In that time, I've never met a pizza, slice of cinnamon toast, chunk of baguette, or sourdough pretzel I didn't like. (Well, there WAS that pizza at the diner in Maine that was memorable for its pure awfulness; but truly, it was an aberration. And no, I won't tell you where the diner was; thankfully, it's closed.)

I'd always baked yeast bread with the help of a KitchenAid stand mixer. But when bread machines made their appearance 20 or so years ago, I started alternating my KitchenAid with a Zojirushi – to knead the dough, but not to bake the bread. Call me old-fashioned (many do), but I still like baking my bread in a pan in the oven.

Plus, I like going way beyond typical sandwich loaves. The Zo does a superior job kneading, then raising the dough. I then take that dough and make dinner rolls, focaccia, bread sticks, sticky buns... Making Zo dough is a no-brainer, for sure; I do it often.

Last year, Zojirushi came out with a machine that tempted me to try it again for baking – not just kneading. The Virtuoso, with a special "shape" cycle, allows you to pause the machine as you shape the kneaded dough into a braid or monkey bread. You then put the shaped loaf back into the machine, and let it finish rising and baking. I tried it (results below); works like a charm.

Then I started thinking, I'll bet this will work in any Zojirushi. Sure enough, while the "shape" cycle is a help (since you can work with the dough and not affect the timing of the other cycles), you can program any Zo with a homemade menu to perform basically the same function: baking shaped breads.

If you have a Zojirushi, I'm going to show you just how easy it is to make AND bake something beyond a plain rectangular loaf.

If you don't have a bread machine, no worries; you can still make the bread. Use the following recipe for reference, and find directions for baking at the end of the post.

Thankfully, there are multiple paths to this same tasty destination – Buttery Herb-Garlic Pull-Apart Bread.

Let's get started. If you have a Zojirushi Virtuoso, program it as follows: no Rest; Knead, 20 minutes; Shape, on (it will read 1:00); Rise 1, off; Rise 2, off; Rise 3, 60 minutes; Bake, 52 minutes. Include the Keep-Warm option or not; your choice.

If you have a different model Zojirushi, you can program it much the same way, though you won't have the Shape option. Program as follows: no Rest; Knead, 20 minutes; Rise 1, off; Rise 2, 20 minutes; Rise 3, 60 minutes; Bake, 52 minutes. Include the Keep-Warm option or not; your choice.

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Combine the following in the Zo's bucket:

3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Herb and Garlic Artisan Bread Flavor or 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite dried herbs
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk

Press start. Check the dough after about 13 minutes of kneading; add additional flour or water as needed to make a soft, smooth dough.

For the Virtuoso: after 20 minutes of kneading, the Shape cycle will begin. Remove the dough from the machine, and set it on a lightly greased work surface. Remove the paddles from the machine.

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For other models Zojirushi: After 20 minutes of kneading, remove the dough from the machine, and set it on a lightly greased work surface. Remove the paddles from the machine.

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Divide the dough into 32 pieces. You don't have to be super-accurate here (though, if you use a scale, you can be). Shape the pieces into smooth balls — or not; ragged pieces will make just as tasty (though not as pretty) a loaf.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Dip the top of each ball into melted butter; you probably won't use all the butter.

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Lay 11 balls into the bottom of the Zo pan, buttered side up. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese.

Use 11 balls of dough to make a second layer; top with another 1/3 cup cheese, and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, if desired.

Top with the final 10 balls of dough; again, make sure their buttered sides are up. Place the pan back in the machine.

For the Virtuoso: press Start. This will move the machine to the next cycle. For other models: no need to press Start, the machine will continue on its programmed cycle automatically.

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When the bread is done, remove it from the machine, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Brush with any remaining melted butter.

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Serve warm; marinara sauce is a nice accompaniment, as is plain olive oil.

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See why this is a wonderful party bread? Imagine setting this hot loaf on the table, and people pulling off pieces to dip in sauce or oil... Definitely an icebreaker!

Want to make this bread without a bread machine? No problem.

Mix and knead the dough, and divide it into pieces. Layer the pieces, as directed at right, into a lightly greased 9" loaf pan. Allow the bread to rise until it's crowned about 1/2" over the rim of the pan; bake it in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until it's golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Read, bake, and review our recipe for Buttery Herb-Garlic Pull-Apart Bread.

Print just the recipe.

Filed Under: Recipes
PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!