Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monkey Bread dreams

When I was in 6th grade, we rotated through various "exploratory" classes, such as home economics, agriculture, tech shop, drama, etc., for six weeks at a time to help us identify possible interests or future trades. All fall semester I had been looking forward to Home Ec because I saw all my friends making Monkey Bread during their six-week rotation. I remember smelling Monkey Bread wafting from Mrs. Lambert's Home Ec suite of rooms as I sat across the hall in computer class, and then my friends proudly guarding their final product so that the rest of us wouldn't ruin it before they got to take it home and show their moms.

Finally, December came, and I left my agriculture rotation and moved into Home Ec. Woo hoo! And wouldn't you know it, the week we were supposed to bake Monkey Bread, we got the biggest snow storm in five years and missed an entire week of school. We never got that time back in Home Ec, and my shot at a batch of Monkey Bread of my very own was lost.

Until this Christmas! My mom, never forgetting my disappointment and subsequent longing for Monkey Bread, bought me a Monkey Bread baking mold so I could make my own. I tackled it tonight.

Please note, the baking mold came with two recipes: one for the "Working Woman", which was meant to be quicker and simpler, and the "Gourmet Chef's" recipe. I had all the ingredients for the latter, so I thought I was up to the challenge.

Well. After four hours of mixing, rising, kneading, rising, rolling, rising, and finally baking, I finally got to taste my very own Monkey Bread. While my final product looks nothing like the delectable photo on the box, it does taste good. Simply put, Monkey Bread is sweetened bread dough rolled into 1/2 inch balls, stacked and caramelized with brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. You cook the stacked dough balls in a sort of bundt cake pan, so it should form a tower that you can invert onto a plate when it's done baking. Mine just fell apart when I tipped the mold upside down to dump out the dough.

Next time I'll use the "Working Woman's" recipe, which calls for refrigerated biscuits instead of made-from-scratch dough and should save me about three hours. But today, with nothing but a collection of Gregory Peck classics and the smell of 6th grade memories, I owed it to my 11-year old self to start at the beginning.

Working Woman's Recipe (from Tumbleweed Pottery):

  • 4 cans of 8 buttermilk refrigerated biscuits
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 1.5 sticks butter, melted
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

On low heat mix butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts together until sugar is dissolved. Spray Monkey Bread Pan (or 9-inch tube cake pan) with non-stick cooking spray. Quarter biscuits and dip in sugar mixture until well coated. Place biscuits in pan and pour remaining sugar mixture over biscuits. Place in cold oven and turn to 350 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. After removing from oven, carefully release edges and center with a knife. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm.

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