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Sourdough Surprises: 'Satay' Pull-apart Bread

Thursday, February 20, 2014

These were fun loaves to make. I've made monkey bread only once before (in the shape of a spider for Halloween, although the "blobs" didn't come out well-defined) and I wonder why I don't do it more often. The bread is nice to look at and easy to eat too. So thanks to Sourdough Surprises for coming up with this suggestion.
I knew I wanted a savoury bread and when I spotted a packet of ready-made satay peanut sauce in my pantry, I thought why not. But the sauce is quite sweet and a little too fluid to spread, so I added some fresh chilli paste and a little more chopped peanuts. 
Satay sauce-filled sourdough pull-apart 'sun' bread
I made enough dough for two loaves, so the first one I made into a sun shape. No complicated shaping here – just a few cuts and twists. I couldn't stop pulling off the "rays" – crisp and chewy like breadsticks – to munch on!
The second loaf was a regular rectangular pull-apart bread shaped in a loaf tin. There was a little less peanut sauce for this one so I looked through the fridge for something to add bulk. It probably sounds gross but you'd be surprised how well sweet and hot peanut sauce goes with salty mozzarella cheese!
Cheese-topped sourdough pull-apart loaf
For more ideas, check out the monkey breads and pull-apart breads made by the other bakers in the Sourdough Surprises group.

Sourdough Pull-apart Breads with Peanut Sauce
Makes 2 loaves

45g mother starter (100% hydration)
75g bread flour
75g water

Mix the sponge ingredients in a jug, cover with cling film and set aside until well risen and bubbly, about 8 hours.

Final dough
250g bread flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
All the sponge (about 180g)
1 tbsp neutral-flavoured oil

Fillings and toppings
180g packet satay peanut sauce
Fresh chilli paste, to taste
Finely chopped roasted peanuts
Shredded mozzarella

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the final dough. Stir together so mixture comes together. If there are dry bits, add water by the tablespoon until the mixture forms a rough dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes, then knead the dough (use your preferred method) until soft, smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and leave on the work surface covered with the mixing bowl until tripled in size. In warm weather, this takes 4½ hours.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Combine the peanut sauce, chilli and chopped peanuts until it is thick but still spreadable.
To make the "sun" loaf, divide one portion of dough into two. Roll each portion out into a thin disc. Place one disc on a baking tray and spread with some of the peanut sauce; top with the other dough disc. Place a ramekin upside down in the centre and make slits (to make 16-18 sections) through both layers from the rim of the ramekin to the curved edge of the discs. Twist each section several times. 
To make the rectangular loaf, roll out the other portion of dough into a rough rectangle, about 30cm by 20cm. Spread with peanut sauce. Cut the rectangle into three 10cm strips and stack them. Cut through the stacks into squares. Arrange in a loaf tin, sprinkling mozzarella in between and around the stacks, and more on top.
Cover both loaves and set aside while the oven is preheating at 180°C. Bake the loaves until cooked through and golden, 20-25 minutes.

I would date this cookie

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I may never bake another cookie again after today. There just doesn't seem a need to do it any more.
These unbaked date-almond-coconut nuggets are superb. I love the chewiness. There are few ingredients, all the mixing is done in a food processor and then some fridge time is involved.
I wanted a coconut theme running through the cookie, so I included coconut oil and milk. The dates are the “binding agent”, but the cookie opens itself to one's own interpretation by combining the dates with one's preferred ingredients. The nuts can remain slightly chunky if that's preferable, and I think candied ginger might also be a good addition. I read somewhere about a South African version that has chunks of a rich tea biscuit called Marie after the basic mixture comes out of the processor, so that when the bars are cut, there's a nice slightly crunchy layer. 
Unbaked snacks make life easier
I don't have a proper recipe for these date-almond-coconut nuggets – I don't think it's really necessary. I simply placed ingredients in a food processor, whizzed them around and added the liquids and dates as I saw fit from the texture of the mixture.
First into the machine went almond meal, dessicated coconut (I don't know... maybe a cup of each) and a large pinch of salt. And then I added a small amount of coconut oil (about one tablespoon) because the smell is wonderful. To get the mixture to clump together a little, in went a little thick coconut milk (also about one tablespoon) – which also boosted the nutty flavour.
Once that was achieved, in went handfuls of pitted dried dates, pulsing as I went along. I must have put in a little more than a couple of handfuls. Once everything was combined and clumped together, the mixture was dumped into a 17cm square tin lined with baking paper, compressed with the palm of my hand, scored with a metal spatula and put in the fridge. After 30 minutes, the bars were cut (I got two dozen) and separated. I must have eaten a whole row of them before they went into an air-tight container.