We bought our house for two important reasons – the master bedroom is on an entirely different floor from the kid’s bedrooms, and the kitchen is huge. Actually, the fact that the kitchen is huge plays a slightly more significant role than our bedroom being separate from the kid’s rooms. But only slightly.
Me being the pack-rat that I am the huge kitchen presents something of a problem, because the larger it is and the more counter/cabinet space it has, the more crap that I’ll never, ever use in a million years can be crammed into it. And I am a kitchen gadget/arcane ingredient JUNKIE.
I have spices in my cabinet that have only been used once, and are most likely no longer potent, because I can’t bear to throw them away. I have some sort of ginger/citrus tea goop in my pantry that’s never been opened because the sweet little old lady who runs the Asian market I frequent gave me a sample of it, and I bought it because 1) she convinced me it was THE cure for the common cold and 2) I’m a sucker for sweet little old ladies. (There’s one little old lady at my neighborhood grocery store who’s job it is to hand out samples and coupons for the most useless crap they sell; she goes out of her way to hunt me down because she knows I’ll buy whatever she is pushing – all she has to do is mention her bursitis and I develop the spine of a dying jellyfish.)
However, my OCD tendencies won’t let me go more than six months before I just can’t stand the sight of the jumbled mess that is my pantry and freezers, and I wake up one morning with the burning, driving desire to JUST GET RID OF IT ALL. This presents something of a problem because that jumbled mess represents hundreds of dollars of still edible yumminess. And while I may be an arcane ingredient junkie, Beloved is a “waste not, want not” junkie, so I have to find something to do with it all.
Today was one of those days. And needless to say, our menu for the next couple of weeks is going to be interesting…I have NO idea what I’m going to do with that jar of habanero-spiced pickled beets that was such good buy 9 months ago; as far as I know, there is no existing recipe for Mexican Borscht.
But enough of that; I had a request for Monkey Bread for the Sunday Brunch recipe. Here it is, or at least the most recent incarnation of it – I’ve found that as my bread-making skills become more honed, the more I tweak my bread recipes. At any rate, it’s pretty darn good, as The Young One will be more than happy to attest to. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for you.
1 1/4 cups warm water – about 85 – 110 F
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1 packet (1/4 ounce) OR 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cups (at least) brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with vegetable spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the ingredients for the dough in the order they’re listed, starting with the water and ending with the yeast. If mixing by hand, stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well mixed. If using a stand mixer, mix together on low speed with the paddle attachment until well mixed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (such as the counter) and knead briefly; shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Unwrap the dough; sprinkle more flour on the counter, and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour a half-tablespoon at a time if the dough is sticking to the counter and your hands (it should, however, be tacky – just not sticky). After kneading, place it in a glass mixing bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Turn the dough to cover it in oil, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Prepare the sugar coating: melt the butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
When the dough is doubled in bulk, turn it out onto the counter, and deflate it slightly by flattening it with your hands. Tear off a piece approximately 1 inch in diameter and roll into a ball, keeping the bulk of the dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Dip the ball of dough into the butter, then roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place the sugar-covered ball of dough into the Bundt pan; repeat until all the dough has been coated and placed into the pan, stacked on top of each other. Don’t worry if the balls of dough aren’t exactly the same size – that’s part of the fun.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; invert onto a serving plate and cool for 10 more minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over the bread. Pull off pieces of the bread to eat. Nom nom nom nom nom.
Note: Most bread recipes call for bread flour exclusively. However, I’ve found that a mixture of bread flour and regular all-purpose flour makes for a lighter, fluffier bread in this instance.