Pull-apart sourdough bread rolls, with two kinds of dough and with four different fillings – that’s truly an offering for friends to share!
Bread bakers are the best
Bread bakers are a fantastic community. The online fora, the Facebook groups, the Instagram lot who post chunks of dough resting on a bench, they are all passionate as anything, they ask relevant questions and offer pertinent comments. I love them.
Even if you post a shapeless lumpen loaf, squashy on one side and decidedly under proofed, you’ll get ‘well done!’s and good advice.
And the elite, the crème de la crème, the sourdough aficionados, are not quite as snobby as they may appear to be.
They speak a peculiar lingo, for sure.
It’s all autolyse this, window pane that; the hydration percentages you’re unable to work out without a PhD, and cryptic acronyms (RT, DO, S&F, WTF? the last obviously not quite to do with bread).
They scald, they retard, score and oven spring; and they aspire to slash perfect ears.
Bread making is magic
There is magic in bread making so no wonder the acolytes are a special bunch.
Mix together flour and water, and you get the best foodstuff on Earth. Seeing dough double or triple in volume is like watching a magic trick, albeit slightly less speedy.
And the way you can enchant a loaf almost out of thin air – or yeast water – can truly take your breath away.
My party bread
And here’s my bakers’ party bread: it is sourdough of course, although I still think of myself as not quite accomplished in calculating my hydration levels.
It has four different flavours hidden in the rolls and they are to tear, share and die for.
The dough is made with any sourdough starter, recently refreshed with equal quantities of flour and water. It should be vibrant and bubbling when you get to work with it, and a spoonful set on a bowl with water should float happily.
It is mixed into a ferment (the first, rough dough) with a mix of white bread flour with some light rye and some wholemeal.
After an hour’s rest, the rough dough is divided in two, to make white and dark rolls.
The dark portion is topped up with wholemeal instead of white bread flour plus some molasses and a pinch of cocoa.
Each batch needs to be kneaded until smooth, elastic and stretchy, before going for a cold retard (sic) of 24 hours in the fridge.
The fillings are fun and totally optional. I go for:
- garlic pesto, mixed with garlic cloves and basil leaves
- tapenade, olive paste made at home or shop-bought
- diced hard cheese like Comte or Gruyere
- tomato paste mixed with a little honey
You can of course stuff the rolls with ham, cooked spinach, fresh herbs or cooked, chopped onions. Or leave them plain and just sprinkle the tops with flakes, crumbs or seeds.
Shaping and stuffing
The following day, with the dough out of the fridge, it’s the fun session. Dough is divided into chunks, each flattened, filled with prepared stuffing, then sealed very well and shaped into a smooth ball.
The rolls can be baked in a rectangular baking tray or a round dish. Arrange them close to one another, alternating dark and white ones, so they rise touching one another and bake into an even closer entity. An egg wash glaze will keep them glossy, and the sprinkling of seeds, poppy or sesame, will be the final aesthetic touch.
After baking, though you’ll be very, very tempted to grab one and cram into your mouth hot, let the tray or dish rest and cool down at least a few minutes. Or longer, if it’s a bake for a social gathering – which, in truth, it is ideal for.
And pity those who know nothing but supermarket sliced white.
More sourdough bread roll recipes
Crusty and chewy dinner rolls, French dimple rolls made with sourdough starter. Dimple rolls shaped like coffee beans are perfect for sharing.
My own Golden Gate bread rolls, made with San Francisco style sourdough. These square smooth crusty bread rolls are perfect company to a bowl of soup and they also make mean panini.
Seelen means souls in German, and in Schwabia it means fantastically tasty spelt sourdough bread rolls, rustic and completely artisan.
More tear and share bread recipes
Kubaneh, Yemeni Jewish bread traditionally baked slowly overnight, is the original croissant except with none of the hassle and lots of fun in the making.
Partybrot, German party bread rolls to tear and share. This is an easy and simple recipe for pull-apart bread, little brown and white rolls baked together in a round tin. Various options include cheese partybrot or herb partybrot.
Chinese flower shaped bread rolls, baked in the oven, are buttery and spiced with za’atar and chives instead of traditional spring onions. Just so I can have them for breakfast!