I was delighted when Sourdough Surprises announced that this month’s challenge would be monkey bread or pull-apart bread as those are always so fun to eat. Since we’re still recovering from Christmas sweets and Valentine’s day was just around the corner, I decided to go the savory route instead of making the traditional gooey monkey bread and adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour to make Buttery Herb Pull-Apart Bread. Even though I don’t get the satisfaction from licking my sugary, sticky fingers, we still couldn’t stop eating this delicious and addictive loaf.
I couldn’t be happier with how this bread came out. I used my favorite method of conversion and made a sponge with 2 Tbsp. of my un-fed starter, the water from the recipe and and the same weight of flour as the water. I made the sponge in the early evening and let it sit on my counter to feed until morning when it was nice and bubbly. My house is fairly chilly this time of year, so patience (something I normally lack) was really required this time. I then mixed up the remainder of the flour and the other bread ingredients, minus the commercial yeast, into an Italian-herb flavored dough. I divided the dough into balls, dipped them in butter and layered them with sprinkles of freshly grated Parmesan cheese in a loaf pan. I then left the dough to rise at room temperature for the entire day. The only reason I was able to pull off that kind of wait was that I left the house, otherwise I probably would have given in to temptation earlier!
By evening, the loaf had finally doubled in size and I was able to bake it. It rose even more in the oven and produced a beautiful golden loaf with a very soft and airy interior. The sourdough flavor is subtle, but it is there, and the herbs, butter and Parmesan flavors are really complimentary. I think this may be the most successful use of my sourdough starter yet and I will definitely make it again.
- ⅔ C (152g/5⅜ oz) water
- ⅔ C (152g/5⅜ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. 100% hydration sourdough starter
- 2⅚ C (266g/5.8oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 T (21 g/ 0.75 oz) potato flour
- 3 T (21g/ 0.75 oz) nonfat dry milk powder
- 2 T (25g/7/8 oz) sugar
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. Italian Seasoning herbs
- 4 T (57g/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ C (113g/4oz) lukewarm milk
- 2 T (43g/ 1.5oz) melted butter
- ½ C (28g/ 1oz) grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine the ingredients for the sponge in a medium bowl. Cover lightly and let sit until bubbly. This may take 8 or more hours, depending on the activity of your starter and the temperature in the room.
- Combine the sponge mixture with the remaining bread ingredients. Add additional water or flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.
- Divide into 32 pieces and roll each into a small ball.
- Lightly grease a 9" bread pan.
- Dip 11 balls of dough into the butter and place them butter side up in the bottom of the bread pan. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the Parmesan.
- Repeat with another 11 balls and another ⅓ of the Parmesan.
- Finish with the final layer of dough balls and Parmesan.
- Lightly cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. This may take 8 or more hours depending on the temperature in the room.
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C.
- Bake the bread for oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until it's golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F/88C.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.