There’s something very homey and comforting about the sight of a hot pan of soft, pillowy pull-apart rolls on the table, still steaming from the oven. This dough is a dream to work with, making it a great recipe for bakers of all ages.
For stiff levain:
25 grams mature liquid levain
50 grams water
100 grams bread flour
182 grams King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
178 grams King Arthur Flour bread flour
40 grams stone ground corn flour
200 grams whole milk
140 grams stiff levain, just before its peak
40 grams honey
2 eggs (one for dough, one for egg wash)
8 grams salt
90 grams butter, at room temperature
The night before you want to build your dough, mix together liquid levain, water, and flour until no dry flour or lumps remain. If you’re not accustomed to mixing your levain with your hands, stiff levain is far easier to mix with your fingers than it is with a fork or spoon, so roll up your sleeves and dive in! Once it’s fully mixed, cover the bowl and set aside on the counter to mature overnight.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flours, milk, stiff levain, honey, and one egg until no dry flour or lumps remain. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
Turn the mixer on to medium low and add the salt, then slowly add the butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, waiting until each addition of butter is mostly absorbed into the dough before adding more. Once the butter is fully mixed in, turn the mixer up a notch and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly and you can pull a windowpane that, when you tear a hole in it, has clean, smooth edges around the hole you tear.
This can take several minutes of mixing, so have patience, and keep an eye on your mixer to be sure it isn’t slowly rattling itself across your countertop to take a tumble off the edge.
Remove the bowl from the mixer base and let rest on the counter for 4 hours, covered, or until you see signs of significant fermentation. (We moved our dough into a glass container for photography purposes, but you don’t have to do that unless you want to be able to view the dough from the bottom through the glass to keep an eye on fermentation). Move the bowl to the fridge and allow to rest there overnight.
Cut a piece of parchment to line the baking surface of your Challenger Bread Pan. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about half an hour, then divide the dough into nine even pieces. The easiest way to do this is to weigh the whole lump of dough, then divide that number by 9 and then cut your dough accordingly. Ours weighed 96 grams each. Shape each piece into a round, then place them into the prepped pan base.
Cover loosely (you can just use the lid of the pan here, if you’d like, or gently cover with a kitchen towel) and let proof for 4 hours.
30 minutes before baking, place the lid to your Challenger Bread Pan in the oven and preheat the oven at 350°F / 175°C. While the oven preheats, beat one egg with a splash of water and, using a silicone pastry brush, brush the egg wash evenly over the proofed rolls. Once the oven has preheated for a full 30 minutes, place the heated pan lid over the rolls and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
If you can resist eating a whole pan of these while they’re still steaming as you break them apart and you have leftovers (or you want to make them ahead of time), store them in a sealed zip-top bag at room temperature for a few days.
Nicole Muvundamina is a freelance baking instructor and recipe developer specializing in sourdough and freshly milled whole grain baking. Armed with a tabletop stone mill and a pantry overflowing with grains, she is on a mission to introduce people to the fantastic flavors and characteristics that come along with fresh, whole flour. To see what grain-based tomfoolery she is getting herself into each day, follow her on instagram at @nmuvu.