I’ve had a sourdough starter in my refrigerator for months now, leftover from a bread-baking workshop I assisted in the fall. Every week on Friday I feed it flour and water and then put it away. It’s a habit. Sometimes habits create blind spots and make us forget about doing obvious things, such as actually making some sourdough bread. On Friday I was going through the motions, feeding my starter when I swear the thing looked at me and said “Are you ever going to bake me?!” Oh… right.
My starter came from King Arthur Flour, so I decided to see what new and unusual sourdough recipes they had so I could try something new. I came upon a recipe for buttery sourdough buns, which were clearly the right answer. I made them on Friday but found them to be slightly dry and lacking in salt. I made them again last night with a few tweaks and they were perfection. They’re soft but the swirl layers add a touch of crunch. The dough has just the right amount of sour (disclaimer: I like my sourdough to be noticeably sour. If that’s not your thing cut the quantity of starter down to 1/2 cup). There’s a touch of cocoa powder in the swirls, but it’s just for color. You could swap this out with paprika, which is how the recipe is originally written. I appreciate that these buns contain standard yeast in addition to the starter. Often times sourdough bread can be a multi-day process since the natural yeasts take longer to rise. It’s a time commitment which is why I probably don’t make sourdough regularly. But this recipe provides all of the rewards without the long wait.
- 2/3 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed (I used unfed)
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (for color)
- Place the sourdough starter in the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook attachment.
- In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Add the dry ingredients, egg, butter and lukewarm water to the stand mixer and turn it on low speed. After a minute or two increase the speed to medium.
- Allow the mixture to kneed for several minutes until a smooth dough has formed.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased container and cover it with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, preferably in a warm, dark place (I use the attic or the laundry room on top of the dryer).
- Once the dough has roughly doubled in size, turn it out onto a clean, lightly greased work area. Gently punch down the dough and then roll it into a large rectangle.
- Combine the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of melted butter and brush it evenly onto the dough.
- Roll the long side of the rectangle evenly and tightly until you have one log. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide the log in half. Continue dividing evenly until there are 16 pieces.
- Place the buns swirl-side up into two greased cake pans, 8 buns per pan.
- Cover and allow to rise for an additional 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brush the buns with most of the remaining butter and allow them to bake for 22-25 minutes.
- Brush with the remaining butter and carefully turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve hot or warm.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour