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monkey bread

i keep a list in one of my recipe files called "weekend baking". i put recipes on that list that i know will be "projects" - meaning they will take longer than the average recipe.

i signed up for a online membership to Cook's Illustrated about two years ago. it was one of my favorite food related purchases. with the membership you gain access to the wealth of knowledge that is America's Test Kitchen. their recipes are wonderful starting points - they do all the hard work for you. my only complain about some of their recipes is they sometimes need a little something to make them extra special - but sometimes you get recipes like this monkey bread that are perfect the way they are.

i wasn't sure that to think of monkey bread - honestly i had never of it before and because there were no photographs with the recipe i wasn't sure what to expect. it is one of my favorite things i have ever made! i have since seen other monkey bread recipes that use pre-made dough - don't do this! spend the time to make this dough. it is buttery and perfect. i don't think i even need to address rolling the dough in cinnamon, sugar and butter as that is never a bad thing and the simple glaze is the perfect "frosting" for the bread. it is amazing - you need to make this monkey bread.

monkey bread

monkey bread
from Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients

Dough
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk , warm (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water , warm (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package rapid-rise yeast (or instant)
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
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

monkey bread monkey bread
monkey bread monkey bread

1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

2. In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook, (see below for instructions without a mixer.) 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. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

3. For the sugar coating: While dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.

monkey bread

4. To form the bread: Gently remove dough from bowl, and pat into rough 8-inch square. Using bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

5. Roll each dough piece into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

monkey bread

6. Cover Bundt 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.

monkey bread

7. Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap 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, about 10 minutes.

monkey bread

8. For the glaze: While bread cools, whisk confectioners' sugar and milk in small bowl until lumps are gone. Using whisk, drizzle glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

note: The dough should be sticky, but if you find it's too wet and not coming together in the mixer, add 2 tablespoons more flour and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Make sure to use light brown sugar in the sugar mix; dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor that can be overwhelming. After baking, don't let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stick to the pan and come out in pieces. Monkey bread is at its best when served warm.

Monkey Bread without a Mixer:
In step 2, 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.




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