It's funny how foods can take you back to a certain time and place, even bring back the way you were feeling when you ate a certain dish.
I recently started thinking about Monkey Bread, that gooey, buttery, sugary pull-apart breakfast confection. In junior high and high school, a close friend's mom would make it for us for breakfast after sleepover parties. I remember feeling tired and happy while eating it in their cozy kitchen.
I haven't had it since, but I needed a dish to bring for a newsroom holiday brunch. Monkey bread would be it, I decided.
Many monkey bread recipes call for using refrigerated biscuit dough as the bread component, but as I've mentioned before, I love the transformative qualities of starting from scratch. It's amazing to me that you can start with flour, sugar, butter and yeast and end up with a delicious, memory-laden food.
I used this recipe from Randomosity and the Girl - looks like she found and adapted it from allrecipes.com. I chose it specifically because it doesn't include milk. Making the dough in the bread machine makes it the easiest part of the process. It comes out silky and smelling like cinnamon, like a soft little cloud of future monkey bread.
After you knead it a bit, you cut it up and dip it in butter and brown sugar melted together. This is a lot of work, but it smells delicious. That helps. I have a new appreciation for my friend's mom, who made it for us all those mornings after we surely kept her awake until all hours of the morning.
I assembled it Tuesday night to serve Wednesday, because I knew there was no way I'd be able to put the whole thing together in the morning. I think this caused the dough to absorb some of the melted butter, so the texture after baking was a little funny.
The blogger from whom I found the recipe made the dough in her bread machine overnight and assembled it in the morning. I'm guessing that's the way to go.
It was still delicious, though, soft and sugary and full of memories.
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup water
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
In your bread machine's pan, place yeast, flour, ground cinnamon, salt, white sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and water in the order that is recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle and press start.
When dough is complete, place dough on floured surface and knead 10 to 12 times.
In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt one cup of butter, stir in brown sugar. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
Cut dough in 1-inch chunks. Drop one chunk at a time into the butter sugar mixture. Thoroughly coat dough pieces, then layer them loosely in a greased Bundt or tube pan, staggering layers.
Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until dough is just over the top of the pan, 15 to 20 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or till golden brown.
Remove from oven, place a plate face down in top of the pan and, using oven mitts to hold plate on pan, turn over both until bread slides out onto plate. Serve warm.
Photo from this Flickr page.