Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hidden Treasure Sourdough Pull Aparts




Background:
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.

Phase One:
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.  


Phase Two:
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 sugar   
     1 1/2 cups additional AP flour

For the coating:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 cup granulated sugar

Hidden Treasure:
Fresh blueberries
Grated zest of 1 large orange

Frosting:
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).
Form:
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. 
Second Rise:
Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 2 1/2 hours in my kitchen.
Bake:
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.
Frosting:
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.



28 comments:

  1. LOL! Sometimes we need sweet ;) The muffin tin size are brilliant!

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    Replies
    1. Nibbling on several small servings feels less guilty than tackling a large loaf.

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  2. I really like the ham and cheese pull-apart idea! I may well try that for a picnic in the summer.

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    Replies
    1. I think there's picnic potential there, with more cheese and "something" to keep it moist. I'd love suggestions.

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  3. Love the little blueberry ones, I'll take two please!

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    Replies
    1. C;mon by Robyn, I'll make a fresh pot of coffee too.

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  4. What a lovely idea, the hidden treasure ;)
    Nice take on the bread, bravo!

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  5. I really love that ham and cheese one! Sorry it was disappointing.

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    Replies
    1. I'm thinking of it as an invitation to tweak the recipe and try again.

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  6. Thank you for describing the quest for the perfect pull-apart bread;P. Now I know that not only me was not pleased with first attempt. I baked monkey bread with tahini and halvah. It looked good, but the taste... ugh, disaster! Although it wasn't tahini's fault. The dough was too sour and no one, absolutely no one wanted to eat this:P. But, unlike you, I gave up and didn't bake any new pull-apart bread for Sourdough Surprises. I'm glad that your second attempt was succesful and delicious. But ham and cheese version look tasty too, maybe it needs just a little secret ingredient to make it perfect;P.

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    1. I love any excuse to work with sourdough starter, but it IS a ton more fun when other people enjoy the results. Maybe we'll both have better luck next time, it's always worth another try.

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  7. Your pull apart muffins look great! I like the blueberry filling, it looks so pretty. And lol at the pull apart/put together sandwich!

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  8. I'm glad you decided to go ahead with the challenge. The hidden blueberries are inspired! And the ham and cheese one sounds -- and looks -- really good. Definitely, as you say, with potential.

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    Replies
    1. I am newly inspired after checking out the other breads baked for this month's challenge. There's time for another effort or two before the next challenge is announced.

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  9. Love those little hidden treasures! I bet they were so delicious! :)

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    Replies
    1. They were tasty (and less frisky than your runaway monkey balls!)

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  10. You are so creative! I really love the sound and look of the ham and cheese loaf, but the sweet version with blueberries and orange? YES PLEASE.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Korena. We were both on a citrusy roll this month.

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  11. I am a fan of both your phase one and phase two endeavors. I think congratulations are in order!

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  12. That's too funny! Thanks for sharing your adventures. Both versions sound good, but I have to agree that the ones with the blueberries look and sound divine. Happy Baking!

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    Replies
    1. Today it IS funny, las week i was w-a-y beyond annoying.

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  13. Wow~ This is fantastic~ The ham and cheese loaf looks wonderful and blueberries and orange, again wonderful! Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. Warm, fresh sourdough anything is a winner.

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  14. Oh my gosh, both of your ideas were SO creative. I am sorry the ham and cheese didn't work out as hoped, but they just might be worth some playing... hmm... and the blueberry hidden treasures? Oh my gosh, I wish I could have a few of those for breakfast in the morning! Great job!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Shelley. I'm still thinking about solutions for the ham & cheese challenge.

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