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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time


I posted once about monkey bread previously, just a couple weeks shy of three years ago. A lot has changed in the past three years: Nicole gave me a bundt pan so my monkey bread now looks like a huge, glorious donut when I bake it, I’ve gotten food poisoning at least three times, and I’ve corrected my horrible posture slightly with a rigorous yoga routine. Despite all these exciting changes (the ones listed are the most important in my life, of course), one thing has remained constant. Nick threw his annual Oscar watching party last night.
Forgive me for a second while I become one of those insanely annoying people obsessed with lasts: the last time I’ll be able to walk outside in the wintertime wearing just a windbreaker (for 3 years at least), the last time I’ll have free nights and weekends, the last time I’ll brush my teeth at 10:34 PM in this house on the third day of the third month while the rain patters lightly against the window. Just kidding, I really hate those kinds of people. Nonetheless, it will be pretty sad being away from Nick & all my other friends during the Oscars next year for the first time in five years. FIVE YEARS.
Luckily, Nick’s party this year was a potluck, so the abundance of food surrounding me helped me drown my sorrows. Even when I got dead last in the Oscars fantasy draft, my stomach was full of hot wings, guacamole, and meat muffins (whatever those are), so I wasn’t too fazed. My addition to the part was, you guessed it, monkey bread, this time complete with some chopped pecans.
Monkey bread is one of the best treats to bring to a gathering with a lot of people, and it’s best served fresh out of the oven. If you make it at home for just yourself and another person or two, you’re put in a horrible position because you WILL end up eating the whole thing. No, a gluttonous treat like this should be ripped apart while still steaming, burning your ravenous friends’ fingers and mouths as they try to scarf down more pieces than the next guy. Monkey bread is a surefire crowd pleaser; I even had a friend eat a chunk of the raw dough while it was still rising, and despite her concerns about salmonella (unwarranted since it had no eggs in it), she enjoyed that as well.
Next March, wherever I end up, I know there’s a decent chance I will be sitting alone, bundled up in several layers of clothing, eating a whole mound of monkey bread by myself and wishing I was in California at Nick’s house. Then again, let’s all hope I will have made some new friends by then…

Cinnamon Pecan Monkey Bread (from scratch)

Ingredients:

For the dough
  • 1 envelope dry active yeast
  • 3/4 c. granulate sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 3 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
For the cinnamon coating
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

  1. Mix milk, water, sugar, and 2 tbsp. butter in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.  Heat until edges just begin to bubble, then pour into a small bowl.  Add yeast, mix gently, and wait 5-10 minutes until the yeast blooms and the mixture turns foamy.
  2. Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Slowly add yeast mixture to flour.  Once the ingredients are incorporated, mix on medium speed for about 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl, and place dough in bowl, turning once to coat in oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Take dough out and press it into a roughly 8″x8″ square on a lightly floured surface.  Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 64 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball. Dip in butter and then roll in the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place dough balls in a well greased bundt pan (or whatever pan you have).  As you fill the pan, occasionally toss in some pecans so they’re spread evenly throughout. 
  5. Let dough rise for another hour or so, until doubled.  Putting it on top of a preheated oven or inside an oven at a very low temperature can speed this process up.
  6. Heat oven to 350 and bake for about 25 minutes until everything is golden brown and bubbly.  Turn out onto a plate (CAREFULLY!), and enjoy as soon as you can grab a piece without burning yourself.
  7. Fight savagely with others to eat as much as possible.

Note: This dough can be “made ahead,” sort of, if you want to bake this at, say, a friend’s house after going to see a 2 hour movie beforehand.  Follow steps 1-4, and then cover the pan with plastic wrap and toss into a refrigerator/cooler/etc.  Remove the pan about an hour before you want to bake it (again, this is where the warm stovetop can help with the second rise), and then follow the rest of the steps.

Photo taken with my phone...

Photo of the finished product taken with my phone…

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