Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Buttery and Cheesy Sourdough Surprise

I recently joined Google+ and have been enjoying connecting with old friends and making new ones and hanging out in hang outs. In the process of adding new friends to my circles, I ran across a new baking group called Sourdough Surprises. They’ve been having fun using their sourdough starters with friends all over the world for the past several months, but I just found out about them. 

Since I’ve been focusing on sourdough this month, I decided it would be fun to join them. Their challenge for the month was to make sourdough brioche dough and then make babka using the brioche dough. I love sourdough and brioche so I figured you couldn’t go wrong with that combination.



It took me a little while to figure out how I was going to accomplish this, but I finally found my inspiration in the Classic Sourdoughs’ method for making cheesy sourdough brioche and Peter Reinhart’s method for shaping bapka in Artisan Breads Everyday

I utilized the Classic Sourdoughs’ method for activating the culture and creating the culture proof and referred to their ingredients for the Cheesy Brioche.  However, I used my own process for mixing and fermenting the dough. They only proofed the brioche dough once, after it had been shaped and placed in the brioche pan, and didn’t allow any time in the refrigerator (which I thought was rather odd for brioche) so I did my own thing and let it bulk ferment in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. After the bulk fermentation, I followed the process for shaping bapka in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday.

The Classic Sourdoughs’ method involves several different steps so I broke it up into two different posts. The first post focused on Activating the Sourdough Culture and Creating the Culture Proof.  This post focuses on making a delicious brioche dough using the culture.


Cheesy Sourdough Brioche/Bapka

Adapted from: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood and Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart

Makes: 2 Loaves


  • 2 cups (480 ml) culture from culture proof *
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (115 g) Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 4-5 cups (560 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 eggs (I used 6 large eggs, but I think medium would work better or only use 5)
  • 1 cup (240 g) butter
  • 1 egg yolk (for the egg wash)
  • 2 teaspoons water



* Begin by activating the culture and creating the culture proof. Then use the culture to make this bread. 

1) Mixing the Dough:

Place the 2 cups of culture in a large mixing bowl. 



Add the sugar, salt, cheese and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix well.



I mixed the dough by hand using a wooden spoon to begin with, then I switched to a Danish dough whisk. You can use a stand mixer if you prefer.

Mix the dough until it forms a sticky mass. Then mix in the eggs one at a time.



2) Kneading the Dough

At this point, you can turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead it, but my dough was so sticky that I kept it in the bowl.  Add 2 more cups of flour and knead until the dough is elastic, about 10 minutes. You want to make sure the gluten is sufficiently developed before you add the butter or the dough won’t be able to support it.  My dough was still quite sticky so I let it autolyse (rest) for about 45 minutes before adding the butter.  With that much better, it needed all the help it could get.

To add the butter, break off quarter-size pieces and work it into the dough using your hands and a dough scraper. I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour during this process because the dough was really soft and sticky due to the butter.



3) Bulk Fermentation

After I finished kneading the dough, I put it in a clean bowl, covered it with plastic and placed it in the refrigerator to ferment for a couple of hours.



4) Shaping the Bapka

After 2 1/2 hours, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and divided it into two balls.  I let the balls rest on the counter dusted with flour for a few minutes.



Then, I shaped each ball into a batard shape by spreading the dough out into a rough rectangle and bringing the edges up to meet the center and gently pinching the seam closed.



Next, I turned the dough seam side down and carefully rolled the dough out to form a long log.



Coil the log into a circular snail shape. The dough was still sticky so I was sprinkling flour as I was doing this.



Then you’ll want to stand the coil shape on its end so that it is perpendicular to the counter rather than lying flat.



Press down on the coil to compress it into a loaf shape then place it in a greased loaf pan.  I used 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” glass loaf pans.



5) Proofing the Loaves

Cover the loaves with plastic wrap or a towel and let them proof for 2 to 3 hours until the bapka fills the pan or has increased in size about 1 1/2 times.  By the time mine finished proofing, the nice coil shape was gone.  I didn’t coil it tightly enough because it was so sticky and kept sticking to my fingers.



6) Baking the Loaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk the egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of water until frothy.  Brush the loaves with the egg wash right before baking. Bake the loaves for 20 to 25 minutes, the rotate pans for even baking.  Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. 


7) Cooling the Loaves

Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool.  Cool before slicing and serving.


This bread has been YeastSpotted in the weekly bread roundup hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.


10) Slice and Enjoy

This Cheesy Sourdough Brioche/Bapka is buttery smooth and delicious.  I used gruyere cheese, which is the same color as the dough, so even though I rolled the dough into the babka shape (which was no easy feat with this sticky dough), you can’t see the spiral pattern very well.  In hindsight, I should’ve spread it with jam so you could’ve seen the coils, but I was having too much fun with the cheesy dough.


The good thing about this buttery and sticky dough is that it makes a great tasting loaf whether you call it babka or brioche.


I’m a little late to the party, but I really enjoyed baking with the Sourdough Surprises.


Happy Baking!


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