That morning I dropped off my children at school. Came back home to get the bread dough ready for rising. Had my run. Washed up. Rolled out the dough, spread the filling, stacked and stuffed in the pan. Another rise. Some housework. Baked the bread. Blogging and feed-reading a little while surrounded by the bread aroma. What a wonderful morning!
Have you ever had monkey bread before? You probably have eaten it and love it, or have no idea what I am talking about.
What? Monkey? Monkey bread? I have no idea about the name neither. But monkey bread is actually a sweet, sticky, gooey bread made from tons of little dough balls rolled in cinnamon sugar and baked with caramel in a bundt pan or tube pan. It can be your breakfast, snack, dessert…or something that you will pull a small piece and pop it your mouth ALL DAY LONG because it’s what happens in my house.
I am sure you have your favourite bread dough recipe. Go ahead and use that! Or try mine. When it comes to melted butter, cinnamon sugar and tons of caramel, I sense that most of the bread dough recipes would work. And throw in your favourite nuts too. Again, I sense that any nuts would work!
Ingredients (serves 10): Dough
6 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract Caramel Walnuts
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts Cinnamon Sugar Coating
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Grease a tube pan or bundt pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine water, 1 teaspoon sugar, yeast and 1/4 cup flour. Stir well to combine. Cover with tea towel, and set aside to proof for 15 minutes.
Combine the yeast mixture with sour cream, butter, egg, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 1/2 cup flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft and smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with tea towel, and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
While dough is rising, prepare the caramel sauce by combining sugar and water in a heavy saucepan set over low heat, cook until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the cream slowly. Be careful as it will splatter. Whisk to combine and put back on the stove. Let it come to a boil again over low heat and cook 10 to 15 minutes until you reach a nice creamy consistency.
Pour half of the caramel sauce into the pan. Sprinkle half of the walnuts on it. Set aside.
Gently deflate the dough. Shape it into 40 balls.
Combine cinnamon and sugar to make cinnamon sugar. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar. Layer 20 balls in tube pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
Top with remaining caramel and walnuts. Continue with the remaining dough balls. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Uncover pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm. (Do not let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stick to the pan and come out in pieces)
I never skip breakfast. Maybe that’s the reason I will skip lunch sometimes when I am really busy. People wonder how it is possible that you are too busy for lunch when you are working from home. You have the flexibility to arrange schedules, you have no one to boss around, you can eat whenever you want. ALL TRUE! But it’s also true that when kids are not around you will want to accomplish as much as you can. Between client orders and website updates, there are deliveries, laundry, photo shoots, baking, cooking, vacuuming, grocery shopping… And everyday from school drop-off to pick-up, I only have five hours to tackle all these. Not to mention early dismissal days and my favourite, Pro-D Days when it’s really hard to be productive! I am literally in a motorbike mode everyday.
Over the past Christmas, I received a bread maker as one of my presents. I was kind of sceptical of using it at the beginning because I’d been making bread manually for years, why do I need a bulky machine that I have to find space to store? Until I started using it, and realized how powerful that machine is! You literally just turn on the machine, put in all the ingredients, close the lid, wait a few hours, and a big loaf of fresh bread is ready! Magical! Of course if you even consider measuring your ingredients is too much work, I don’t know what to say. You know putting on your shoes, walking or driving to a store to buy bread seems even more tiring.
My son had his first taste of the very popular Ikea cinnamon rolls the other day. Normally when he tries new food, especially something unconventional (I know cinnamon rolls are nothing unconventional, but according to my son, cinnamon sounds very alien to him!), he’s pretty conservative. However, he liked it! He loved it! And I know it’s not because of its sweetness (he’s pretty picky on sweet stuff), but because of the perfect combination of the spice, the gooey filling and the icing/glaze.