Sourdough Surprises' February baking challenge is Monkey Bread... Pull Apart Bread... typically a sweet dough item drenched with a sticky, ooey, gooey, buttery caramelized sugar syrup. Uh, no, thank you, I don't think so, not my thing, far too sweet. I procrastinated for days, pondering how to handle the challenge, and initially decided not to bake with the group this month. No, that would be a poor choice, a lazy way around the issue.
I decided instead to be ornery and ignore the whole uber sweet focus. I would bake a savory version of pull apart bread, a sourdough filled with slices of swiss cheese and ham and slathered with grainy honey mustard. Well, it was... interesting, perfectly adequate yet disappointing. The cheese melted away into the dough and the mustard flavoring underwhelmed my taste buds. I salvaged a few slabs of the not-so-cheesy bread and ham, added some greens and sliced tomatoes fillings, and called it a pull apart/put together sandwich. Meh, this was not working, certainly not worth sharing, and not in the spirit of this month's challenge. Sigh.
I veered back toward sweet, aiming for a modified, slightly less sweet version of the theme "sourdough monkey bread/pull apart bread". My plan was to add a distinctive flavor or two, subtract a ton of butter and sugar, and bake small bites in muffin tins instead of packing the dough balls into one large loaf pan or cake pan.
Each dough ball contained a few fresh blueberries - the "hidden treasure" of the title. A pinch of freshly-grated orange zest offered a pleasant tangy, citrusy balance to the sweet coating of sprinkled cinnamon, apple pie spice and sugar. I tried one straight from the oven... and broke into giggles. The sourdough pull apart rolls were just fine, really, but they did need a drizzle of oozy, gooey sweetness to round out the taste. So much for my "I prefer savory" stance!
A quick microwaved cream cheese, orange marmalade and powdered sugar frosting drizzled over the top did the trick. These little frosted cuties turned out to be quite good, sweet but not cloyingly sweet. The orange zest contributed a pleasant back note, and the blueberries added some fun.
The muffin tin version were the perfect size for a mid-morning snack, much neater and easier to share than a larger loaf pan or bundt pan product. Note: despite the fork pictured above, I ate my share with my hands, pulling the dough balls apart and licking my fingers at the end. Now I have to eat my words - who said sweets weren't my thing?!
Hidden Treasure Sourdough Pull Aparts
Yield depends on the size and number of dough balls in each cup.
For the dough:
1 cup sourdough starter, well-fed and proofed
1 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup AP flour
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon sugar1 1/2 cups additional AP flour
For the coating:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
2/3 cup powdered sugar
For the dough:
Stir together the first 7 ingredients, starter through sugar. Add the additional 1 1/2 cups AP flour and knead until evenly combined (use more or less as needed to form a sticky dough that comes together and no longer clings to the side of the mixing bowl).
First Rise: Cover the bowl and let rise overnight (or at least for several hours until it doubles in size).
Use cooking spray or butter to grease Texas size muffin tins.
Punch down the dough, let rest 15-20 minutes, then roll out approximately 1/2-inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
Scatter the orange zest over the top of the dough. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into squares. Top a dough square with a few blueberries, gather the corners to form a purse and shape into a ball. Roll in your hand to round the shape.
Roll the dough ball in the sugar mix to coat lightly and place in the muffin tin. Repeat for three more dough balls, arranging all four loosely in the cup. Repeat with the remaining squares.
Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 2 1/2 hours in my kitchen.
Place the filled muffin tins in a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove, drizzle with the frosting and serve warm.
Heat the cream cheese, marmalade and sifted powdered sugar in a microwave, stirring often, until melted and loose. This took 2 bursts of 30-seconds each in my micro.