celebratory monkey bread
April 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
So I’d like to preface this post by apologizing, as it’s been a rather long while since I last updated. In the past week life’s been quite a mess of college acceptances, rejections, tears, and finally some laughter. If applying to colleges was a sport, I’d have a pretty bad record, but the two schools I managed to get accepted to were my two top choices where I intended to study either food science or food studies. (Shocker, I know.)
Anyways, that’s boring stuff compared to the recipe I’m going to share with you guys today. It’s great fun to eat, and only a little time consuming to make, but well worth the effort. I think most people in the states have eaten or heard of this ‘cake’. It’s not really a cake, per se, more of a pull apart loaf than anything, but since it’s sweet I guess we can call it a cake.
The name of monkey bread is quite fitting, as it’s a great snack to make for little monkeys, er, kids, you might have in your house because it’s finger food taken up half a notch. On description alone, it doesn’t seem to be anything too special. Balls of dough dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar hardly takes anyone’s breath away, but when you pluck a few of those suckers and throw them into your mouth, it’s amazing!
I’m going to be lazy and let the food do it’s own talking. And please don’t be deterred by the somewhat complicated assembly of this dessert, it’s very much worth it.
from smitten kitchen
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons softened, 2 tablespoons melted)
1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar (CI advises against dark brown, which they feel imparts too strong of a molasses taste; I suspect it wouldn’t bother me)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), mleted
Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200°F. When oven reaches 200, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.
Make dough: In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.
To proceed with a stand mixer, mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. (The dough should be sticky but if it is too wet to come together into anything cohesive, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.
To proceed by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball and proceed as directed.
Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
Make brown sugar coating: Place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one.
Form the bread: Flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces. I found it helpful to immediately separate them from the rest of the “grid” or they quickly reformed a big doughy square in 64 parts.
Roll each piece of dough into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. (I found a fork to be helpful for this process.) Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in pan, staggering seams (something I didn’t do, but should have) where dough balls meet as you build layers.
Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.
Bake bread: Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. (The reason for the “might” is that CI says that it should, but mine did not bubble, leading me to bake mine for an extra 5 to 10 minutes, during which it still did not bubble but go the dark crust you see in the photos. Next time, I’d take it out sooner.) Cool in pan for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
My note: You can make this cream cheese glaze, too, but I prefer this bread without it.
Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla and this is where you can kick me because I completely forgot I was a food blogger for a minute there and know I added a touch more milk and sugar but did not write down how much. I have some nerve! Just taste and adjust — you’re looking for something that tastes equally tangy and sweet, and texturally thin enough to drape over the bread but thick enough that it will not just roll off completely.