Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monkeying around

I am smitten with the aroma of things baking. The heady perfume of cinnamon and cardamom permeating the kitchen, the extravagant richness of caramelizing butter and sugar rolling out of the oven as I open the door to check and see if what I am making is finally done.

I don't do it nearly often enough at home anymore but I did manage to make Monkey bread last weekend.

Making it reminds me how much I enjoy baking things like this: Sticky buns, pancakes, waffles, fresh Croissants (drooling just a teensy bit here), etc.

It also reminds me that I
really do need to stop being so lazy and start doing it more often. Thus the Monkey Bread frenzy.

How can one go wrong with all of those toasted Pecans? and the sugary, buttery, caramel glaze (okay, so it wasn't as caramelized as it should have been but why quibble? It's still darn tasty :)

The pan I used is a mini Bundt pan (I love this thing almost as much as my Dutch Oven) and I found it at Goodwill for $3!!!

I have found a few others there as well so I now have like six of them plus two smaller ones.

Seriously, how can people get rid of this size pan? It's perfect for so many reasons. I never even knew that this size existed. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate my 12 cup version too (which I've also seen at Goodwill for around $3-what a steal!) but you have to have about 20 people over to your place to help you eat whatever you bake in it. The mini is much more manageable for a few people, ahem or just one if you are really, really hungry.

If you are ever looking for a pan, pot, or what have you, check out your local thrift stores especially when you live in a larger area like Portland. You can find so many treasures for such a minimal price and some really really weird stuff too.

Well, here's the recipe that I tend to play around with.

The day before:

Basic dough.
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 Tbsp Unsalted butter, very soft
3 large Eggs
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
1 pkg dry yeast (can use rapid rise yeast or plain dry yeast**
1/2 tsp Salt

Monkey coat. make this the same day that you will be baking.
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
misc. spices- I play around here, sometimes rosemary, sometimes smoked chipotle powder or smoked spanish paprika-depends on what I am in the mood for.
1 batch of the basic dough
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

**If using plain dry yeast, warm up 1/2 cup of the buttermilk to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, add yeast and let it activate for 5 min. while getting the other stuff together.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together. In a large mixer bowl (for a stand mixer) and using a dough hook attachment, combine on low speed, 4 cups of the flour, sugar, the yeast, and salt. Add the buttermilk mix and butter, then mix until the dough comes together-about 2 min.

Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough until it's smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticking to the bowl, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup until it no longer sticks to the bowl.
Afterwards you may want to pull the dough out and knead by hand for a few moments, then place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

At this point I usually put the dough in the fridge and let it sit overnight. It will still raise very slowly and it develops more flavour as well. Before you use the dough the following day, let it warm up at least 30 min.
***If not refrigerating then let dough rise until doubled in size and continue with the recipe***

The following day
heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bundt pan.

Melt the butter. Mix the Monkey coat together (You make have to make a second batch of the mix and butter).
Roll the dough into little balls, keeping the rest of the dough covered. Roll the balls into the melted butter, then into the Monkey coat. Place the balls into the bundt pan. Sprinkle remaining butter and Monkey coat over the top of the bundts, cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in size.
Bake until done, golden brown and the caramel is beginning to bubble around the edges.
Approximately 30 to 40 min.

p.s. Tomorrow morning, it's pancakes!!!!!

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