Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: Double Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Having learned to play seven total musical instruments in my life (not counting for the differences between numerous types of traditional flutes, and acoustic and electric guitars), of course I'm familiar with hot cross buns, being the first song I learned to play on five of those instruments. My first experience in tasting them actually came at the age of seven, when I had learned to play it on the recorder and wondered what they were. Like so many similar baked goods, I found them palatable but not anything noteworthy.

Sourdough Surprises chose Hot Cross Buns as the challenge this month, and despite a crazy work schedule and a project that I promise will end up on this blog (which combines sourdough with healthy eating) I was bound and determined to do something. It also helped me come to a realization:

I hate most dried fruits in baked goods.

I'm a fruitivore really and pretty much will devour any fruit aside from most stone fruits. Dried fruits aren't a problem. I have a box of raisins handy at work for when my electrolyte levels get too low, and I eat dried cherries every night (their health benefits are no myth – I saw the difference in the first night!). Oatmeal raisin muffin? Give me the butter rum, pumpkin, or chocolate.

So even though raisins are one fruit my family will all agree on, I decided to indulge in the sweet stuff. With no official recipe this month, I turned to one of my trusted resources and modified the recipe.

Sourdough Double Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns
Adapted from
Makes 12 buns


    • 1/4 cup sourdough starter
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 3 cups flour, divided, more as needed
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 tblsp butter, melted, divided
    • 3 tablespoons instant dry milk powder
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tblsp milk (I used almond milk)


  1. Mix the starter, water and 1 1/2 cups flour together and let proof, covered, overnight or 8 to 12 hours.
  2. In a large bowl, mix proofed starter, 1/4 cup butter, milk powder, egg, and sugar together.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of remaining flour, salt and allspice.
  4. Add to dough mixture in large bowl.
  5. Mix well, adding remaining flour if needed and knead by hand until dough is smooth and satiny.
  6. Pat dough out into a flat shape and spread chocolate chips over dough.
  7. Fold dough over fruits a couple of times and then knead until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  8. Cover dough and let it proof until doubled.
  9. Gently deflate the dough and press into greased 9x13 casserole dish
  10. Cut into 12 equal rolls
  11. Cover rolls and let them proof until almost doubled.
  12. Brush with remaining 1 tblsp butter
  13. Bake rolls at 425 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes.
  14. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and milk together. When rolls are cool, drizzle over rolls into a cross shape,

I ran into a few issues. One, thank you Florida weather, it's humid (and I did this as a front was still lingering around), so I had to add more flour, meaning the bread was denser. Two, in order to help it rise, I left the bowl on top of the oven as I was baking a lasagna. So a few chips on the outside got a little melted (which is why I took the lazy route of pressing it into the dish and cutting the more chocolate on my hands!). Three, between the almond milk not being stark white and a little too much vanilla, there wasn't all that much contrast in my icing.

Taste wise, though...they were sufficiently sweet, with just a hint of the allspice, and, more than other breads I've done recently, the sourdough flavor was there in all it's glory.

Family tradition never called for hot cross buns...we usually have donuts for Easter breakfast. This recipe though is tempting. The whole family enjoyed them. So while it may not replace my love of donuts, it's definitely one to keep in the Rolodex.

Check out our other hot cross buns!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: Maple Cinnamon Chip Soda Bread

(I apologize for being late, but my computer has been in repair!)

A few years ago, my aunt was visiting right around St. Patrick's Day and brought a homemade Irish Soda Bread. It gave me the idea: Maybe I could replace the buttermilk with sourdough starter. It's an idea that never came to fruition because of one simple fact: I don't particularly care for it.

Don't get me wrong – Irish Soda Bread is what it is: a crumbly chemically-leavened bread. But I have a massive sweet tooth, and there was just not enough of that in any sample I tried (something I just learned recently is that this is because traditional Irish Soda Bread does not include raisins and is actually served with soup). But I try my best to keep up with Sourdough Surprises. So, it was finally time to make a Sourdough soda bread.

The only sample recipe I could find was King Arthur Flour's Seeded Soda Bread. I wanted to try my best to make something sweeter. So I just used it as a guideline and made my own from there. With a bag of cinnamon chips, almost empty, begging to be used in my pantry, I thought they'd be the perfect mix in.

My recipe:
Maple Cinnamon Chip Sourdough Soda Bread
Adapted majorly from King Arthur Flour
Makes 1 loaf, about 8 servings

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Scant 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ripe sourdough starter
2 tblsp melted buttermilk
1 1/2 tblsp real maple syrup
1/4 cup + 1 tblsp milk
1/3 cup cinnamon chips

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
2) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, Harvest Grains Blend, baking soda, and salt.
3) In a separate bowl (or in a measuring cup), whisk together the starter, butter, honey, and milk. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The dough will be stiff; if it's too crumbly to squeeze together, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
4) Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it's holding together. Shape into ball and flatten slightly on a baking sheet. Cut a 1/2” deep cross in the loaf.
5) Bake for about 25 minutes, until they're golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the loaves from the oven, and brush their tops with melted butter, if desired.
I will say I enjoyed it more than typical Irish Soda Bread. It's still far from my favorite recipe. I will keep it in the Rolodex for the next time.

And now with my computer fixed, and a slower season at work...maybe I can get back to baking!
Check out our other Soda Breads!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: S'mores Monkey Bread

Oddly enough, my first encounter with “Monkey Bread” wasn't until I was a sophomore in college, when one of my speech classmates made it for her demonstration and brought in the obligatory sample. Of course I only got a bite, and I remember the buttery mess of the classroom as much as I remember the cinnamon doughnut-like taste. It's not something I ever made. After sitting out a month of Sourdough Surprises, they chose that as the February challenge. Biscuit dough thrown into a pan? I could do that.

In all actuality, I used my tried and true scone recipe (halved) for the bread. I had some miniature marshmallows I'd bought for a recipe I can't seem to get around to trying, some chocolate chips, some graham cracker crumbs...why not make one of my favorite dessert inspirations?

As I mentioned, the mess the monkey bread made was one of the more memorable things about it. So I chose to be inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Kirbie's Cravings, for the recipe. She simply rolled the dough in sugar rather than slathering it in a buttery mess and let the marshmallows create any stickyness.

So my recipe:
S'mores Monkey Bread

1 cup flour
1/2 tblsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 tblsp butter
2/3 cup sourdough starter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp sugar

  1. Sift the first 5 ingredients together. Cut in butter.
  2. Add sourdough starter and vanilla, kneading on a floured surface until dough is no longer sticky. Knead in chocolate chips
  3. Mix graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Divide dough into 12 equal parts and roll in crumb mixture. Place in a greased loaf pan. Top with marshmallows and remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Allow to cool before enjoying!

It's a good thing I snapped that photo right away. My family certainly enjoyed it. It had the same soft and chewy consistency that the scone had with all the s'mores goodness added. My only complaint? I only got two pieces!

I suppose it's something to keep in mind for next time...

Check out our other awesome monkey breads!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Popovers

If there is one thing I am not good at, it's timing. I tend to give anything a few extra minutes – it's okay if I show up early, or if I have to keep dinner warm before everyone is ready. For that reason, I never baked popovers before. They tend to collapse if they are not served immediately. But with Sourdough Surprises picking them for the December challenge, I had to try.

I didn't get too creative with this challenge. I simply made the suggested recipe:

Served with chili, they were wonderful despite this being my first attempt. Crispy on the outside, soft and almost custardy on the inside. Made in a muffin tin, it actually made 8 popovers. So I did save one for breakfast the next day with my yogurt. There was definitely a difference warm and cold, but the texture remained.

For that reason, I'm not scared of popovers anymore. In fact, while I was planning on baking peanut butter biscuits for Christmas breakfast, the taste and texture got me thinking...a little sugar, a little nutmeg...warm them up and you have an eggnog popover for breakfast!

Check out our other awesome popovers:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Mocha Hazelnut Cream Cheese Kolaches

Somehow, I've developed a talent for getting free stuff from the internet. This time it wasn't just a sample – it was a whole jar of Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread and a $2 off coupon for another jar. It's especially funny as I had an unopened jar in the pantry. So, it was time to find a recipe to use it. Sourdough Surprises picked kolaches – a filled Czech pastry – as their challenge for November. I needed a filling and I needed to use the spread. Hopefully it was a match made in heaven.

I did, unfortunately, pick a day to bake when a front was coming through (meaning extra humidity, the need for extra flour and not always the best results with yeast doughs) but I had to give it an old college try. I adapted the Homesick Texan recipe for sourdough, and used a cream cheese and mocha hazelnut mixture for the filling. (I also forgot to melt any butter for when they came out of the oven, so they didn't have a glossy finish).

The recipe:
Kolaches (adapted from TheHomesick Texan)
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt

In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk, sugar and one cup of flour. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.
Beat together eggs, melted butter and salt.
Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and blend.
Stir in about two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist.
Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface. Don't worry, it’s a joy to knead as the dough is smooth and highly malleable.
Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size—about an hour.
After dough has risen, punch it down and pull off egg-sized pieces. In your hands, roll pieces into balls and then flatten to about three inches in diameter. Brush with melted butter.
Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
After second rising, with your finger gently make an indention in the center of the dough (be careful not to flatten it too much) and fill with one tablespoon of filling.
Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes and enjoy!

Kolache filling
1/2 cup Jif Mocha Hazelnut spread
2 oz Neufachetel cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all three ingredients until fairly smooth.

The only negative I have to say is that they tasted a little chewy and dry...but so goes it (typically) when I bake on a humid day. The pastry was lightly sweet and the filling just rich enough.

I'll keep these in mind for a less humid day (if I get the time to bake on a less humid day.) Now to finish off that jar of Mocha Hazelnut spread...

Check out our other awesome Kolaches!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

I'll admit, it's been tough enough for me to stay in the kitchen lately with work. It's even tougher to keep blogging. I found this recipe a long time ago. I'd already tried the pie crusts a few times from the same site. But knowing someday, Sourdough Surprises was going to do muffins, I held on to it – because I haven't been making repeat recipes much either.

Of course, in my style, I didn't do it as written. I'm a hopeless chocoholic, and when I'm not baking much, I include it as much as possible. Plus, with a recipe that calls for exactly half a cup of oil, it was a good recipe to replace the oil with applesauce (fact: single serve applesauce cups are exactly half a cup)

The recipe:
Sourdough Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins
Adapted from Sourdough Recipes
Makes 12-18 muffins (I got 16)

1 cup white all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1 cup fresh sourdough starter

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing until dry ingredients are just combined.

Spray muffin tins with flour spray. Fill tins to 2/3 full. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until done.

Now, the original recipe calls for 30-35 minutes. My oven tends to bake cool, so even though oil free baked goods don't tend to take as long as those baked with fat, I put them in for 30 minutes. I thought they did come out slightly overdone.

Still, they were pretty good. Just enough chocolate, just enough crunch, and a pretty filling accompaniment to my breakfast yogurt. So lesson learned (check at 25 minutes), and if I ever get around to repeat recipes, this one is staying in the cookbook.

Check out our other awesome muffins and quick breads!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sourdough Surprises: Brown Sugar Spice Pancakes

Pancakes and waffles. Easy to make the batter and then...I'm a notoriously bad pancake flipper, and the last time I went to make waffles, with the batter prepared, the waffle maker wouldn't heat up. So, neither are things I have great luck with. Still, I knew there would come a day when Sourdough Surprises picked that for their monthly challenge.  It came as no surprise when that was picked for September.

Since the waffle incident, I have replaced the waffle maker, but having just made them (from a mix), I opted for pancakes...with my new toy:

I know As Seen on TV products normally aren't all they're made out to be, but my aunt has one and likes it, so for $18 (in free gift cards!) I decided it was worth a try.

I used my favorite pancake base, substituting brown sugar and adding a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice.

The pan has a little bit of a learning curve (you can't watch for bubbles, so you have to know your timing). A few got a little burnt on one side, and one that I flipped and opened the pan before it was cooked through got a little mushed. Still, I was quite happy with the results, and the pancakes were delicious.

With the right tools, I suppose I can fix even my biggest kitchen weaknesses. I just got another round of new who knows what's next!