Monday, May 9, 2011

Monkey Bread recipe

Vegan style.
No, not Vegas,
Vegan-and it's really good too.

Really! I would not lie to you...
(okay, so that time in Paris maybe wasn't a complete account of the truth but that's a completely different matter).

Hey, don't walk away! I know, I know...
You're thinking how can this be possible?
Delicious and vegan in the same sentence, much less in one recipe?
Vegan is synonymous with all that is not tasty. Right?
Sure, main courses, salads and the like can be vegan and relatively edible but baked items? Desserts? Not possible.
" You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Well... hate to burst that bubble but some of those desserts and baked goods can be just as good as their non vegan counterparts and no extra mysterious magic or artificial ingredients are required.

Granted, when it comes to baked goods, especially desserts-one does have to let go of some preconceived notions of what you expect the desserts to be like. For example, the vegan "whipped cream" filling in the vegan banana cake will not taste like the regular banana cake using real whipped cream-doesn't make it better or worse, just different, and once your mind opens to the possibilities then your imagination can run wild.

Really I promise, it is possible. Our vegan chocolate cake with vegan peanut butter frosting is soooooooo good and our baker has been making some vegan scones (assorted flavors) that are definitely worth trying.

Yes, yes, I admit there are many vegan desserts and baked goods out there which claim to be "good" (and I have sampled a fair selection of them) but many of these leave you wondering if:
a: You have just done a trek through the Sahara desert
b: If the person who made the dessert had any concept of what "delicious", much less "edible" meant when making the dessert/baked good.

I tasted a vegan chocolate frosting once that tasted like a burned marshmallow, I mean REALLY burned. Not good! Not good at all.

Anyhow, here's the recipe-hope that you enjoy.
I made this side by side with the basic sweet dough from America's Test Kitchen which is my overall favorite base dough. I still love that one but I think the vegan is a little more tender and lighter in texture and flavour.

1 package active dry yeast (or appropriate amount of Rapid rise or fresh).
3 cups Wheat flour ( I use 2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose and whole wheat pastry for the remainder)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon (sometimes I up it a little, depends on my mood)
*1/4 tsp clove
*1/4 tsp ginger
*1/4 tsp nutmeg
*1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
1 cup almond milk (other nut, soy, or hemp milk can be used as well)
**1 to 3 tsp vegetable oil

*These spices are optional to add.
**Because a regular sweet dough tends to have fat from butter and/or buttermilk/milk which helps tenderize the dough, a little vegetable oil will help do this with the vegan dough. The amount you need varies because it depends on how dry the whole wheat flour is-sometimes you need a little more, sometimes less. You can add a little more of the "milk" if the dough is dry as well.

*1/2 to 1 cup vegan margarine. Unsalted Saffola or Earth balance margarines work well.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon (adjust quantity to taste)
1 cup pecans (or other nut of choice)
1 cup raisins (optional-I know some people like raisins cooked in things, I don't. By themselves fine, baked in stuff...abomination of nature (but that's just my opinion)).

*I find that I don't need as much so I usually lean towards the 1/2 cup.

Oven 350 degrees
Bundt pan: Sprayed with a non stick pan spray
Total Time: Depends. I'll explain why in the instructions.
Baking time: Approximately 25 to 30 min. (Again, depends on your oven, how warm the dough is going into the oven, etc.)

Warm almond milk to lukewarm (approximately 110 degrees), add yeast and let sit for 5 min.
While the yeast is re hydrating, place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir to combine. Attach a dough hook, pour in the yeast mixture, add the oil and turn mixer on to a low/medium speed. Let the mixer run for 5 to 7 min to knead.
Add a little flour if the dough is too sticky to keep it from sticking to the mixer bowl or, if it's a little too dry then add just enough liquid until everything combines as it mixes.
Pull dough out and place in a greased bowl.

Now, when I make this dough, at this stage I cover it with plastic wrap and immediately put it into the refrigerator to rest overnight-the dough will slowly continue to rise overnight (this process is call retarding the dough) and become more flavourful.
I finish making this recipe in the morning, pulling the dough out of the fridge first thing in the morning and letting it come up to room temp. The warmer the ambient room temperature, the faster the dough will warm up.

While it's warming up, I make the recipe for the coating. I melt the margarine, mix it with the other ingredients, and set aside until needed.

When the dough has warmed up, roll it into small balls, approximately 1 to 2 in in diameter, then roll them in the coating. Place the balls into the Bundt pan while sprinkling pecans over the dough.
Pour any remaining coating mixture over the dough in the Bundt pan, then set in a warm spot and let the dough rise until approximately doubled in size.
Put the dough into oven and bake until done.

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