Pull-aparts are essentially a Sourdough Cinnamon Roll recipe, but the rolls are quartered, rolled in butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then baked in a fluted pan. Popularized in the 1950s, pull-aparts have been a dutch oven staple at many Scout Camps but known as monkey bread there. Being basically a finger food, Scouts pick apart the bread like a monkey giving this treat the dubious moniker “monkey bread.”
The recipe probably came to America as a Hungarian bread known as a golden dumpling. It can be far nicer than a bunch of hungry boys grabbing for pieces from a cast iron pot. To be sure, this is not just for camp, since Nancy Reagan served it in the White House for Christmas one year. But it works at brunch, like a desert, and is surely good as a “breakfast bread” too.
This recipe would make 24 large cinnamon rolls—essentially this is a Sourdough Cinnamon Roll recipe, but that is the magic of pull-aparts, they are just rolls quartered, rolled in butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then baked in a fluted pan.
The recipe is an old pioneer one I took from the Junior League Of Salt Lake City’s Heritage Cookbook, its secret ingredient is mashed potatoes. I have shared it several times in other blogs but will use it today for the base of a new challenge, a Cinnabon Break-apart. That same neighbor’s wife made one of these in their trailer while camping on the beach over the holidays. He has thrown the gantlet down and challenged me to beat her recipe, (but personally, I just think he wants more of my cinnamon rolls).
The base for this recipe, like many other Sourdough Saturday rolls, is a brioche dough enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. When these ingredients are added to sourdough they yield a tender crumb and rich yellow color. It’s best to make this brioche dough is in a stand mixer since the butter will be added a tablespoon at a time following the initial autolyze period, plus there is a long mix time that would make this pretty hard to do by hand. Of course, there will still be several stretch-and-folds to buildup the gluten after it is mixed.
SOURDOUGH CINNAMON PULL-APART RECIPE
- 1 1/4 cups (380 g) Butter
- 1 3/4 cups (400g) Sourdough starter
- 6-7 eggs (375g)
- 1 cup (260 g) Whole Milk
- 1 cup (250 g) Mashed Potatoes
- 1/3 cup (100 g) White Sugar
- 7 1/2 cups (450g) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbl (20 g) Salt
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup soft butter
- Cut butter into one tablespoon slices and warm to room temperature while mixing the other ingredients.
- Whisk the starter, eggs, whole milk, mashed potatoes, and sugar together until incorporated.
- In your stand mixer, combine the flour and salt. With the dough hook attached mix in the above mixture. Mix for 3 minutes, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- After the rest turn your mixer to medium speed, mixing for about 5-6 minutes until the dough comes together.
- Then add the butter one tablespoon at a time, waiting until the previous is mixed in before adding the next. Continue until all the butter is incorporated, this could take another 8-10 minutes on medium mix speed.
- Transfer the dough to a bulk container and allow to ferment for 2 hours at room temperature. During the ferment, every 30 minutes stretch and fold the dough.
- Next, place the dough into the fridge for 2–4 hours, or even overnight if you like.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle.
- Spread the butter on top of the dough and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Roll the dough into a log. Slice it into 24 rolls; then quarter each
- Grease a fluted pan
- Place the quartered rolls in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow rising until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F but turn it down to 350°F (175°C) just before baking
- Bake the dough for 35-45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 200°F (95°C)
- When done, invert the plan on a platter and serve warm or drizzle with icing.
NOTES ON THE SOURDOUGH STARTER
My first attempt at sourdough cinnamon rolls was on odd contrast between the sharp, tangy taste of a long-preferment and the sweetness of the rolls. But since then I learned that if you keep your starter fresh and active, (fed once every four hours the day of use), it will ensure the tanginess from the acidity will be kept low. But your starter should be “mature” which means it will be just about to its peak height and not yet fallen. That way the acidity will not be transferred to the final dough.
Popularized in the 1950s, pull-aparts have been a dutch oven staple at many Scout Camps but known there as monkey bread. Being basically a finger food, Scouts pick apart the bread like a monkey giving this treat the dubious moniker “monkey bread.”
The recipe probably came to America as a Hungarian bread known as a golden dumpling. It can be far nicer than a bunch of hungry boys grabbing for pieces from a cast iron pot. Pull-aparts not just for camp, since Nancy Reagan served it in the White House for Christmas one year. But it works at brunch, like a desert, and is surely good as a “breakfast bread” too.
In the comment section below we would love to hear about your experience using enriched sourdough.