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May 2, 2014

Ginger-Monkey Bread!

Monkey (Ginger)Bread, Easter 2014

Have you ever attempted a recipe that you knew would come out better if you could bake it with your mom?  I stumbled upon this monkey bread recipe when it was published in 2010 by Food52.  The gingerbread twist was so creative and seemed like such a festive way to celebrate.   It took two years for me to get up the gumption to try to make it in my own home kitchen.  I was spending one of the first of many holidays alone in Los Angeles, and decided to go all out to treat myself.  As usual, I was behind in my baking, but this time I had a hard deadline:  it was Thanksgiving, and since I was alone I had agreed to serve meals to the homeless for a portion of the day, so I had to leave the house for about six hours.  I decided it would have to wait to bake till after my commitment with Gobble Gobble Give, so I left my beautiful bread to rise while I was gone.  You know the punchline:  I came home to a yeast failure.  Though it had failed to rise, I cooked the bread anyway, but the sugary, rock-hard lumps were too dense to eat.

This year, I celebrated Easter at my folks' home, so I took advantage of the opportunity to cook with my mom by pulling out this recipe.  I don't know if it was cooking in a bigger, nicer kitchen, not leaving home till the process was complete, or simply my mom's love put into the baking, but we rocked Monkey Bread!  Between the three of us, it was devoured in a day and a half, with a large volume of coffee.  I was flying high on sugar and caffeine as I boarded the plane to come home, but the gingerbread sure made it feel like a holiday, and I will always remember baking with my mom.

Monkey (Ginger)Bread 
by arielleclementine
at Food52

Serves 8
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and a pinch of sugar with the warm water. Set aside to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons butter, milk, and molasses and heat until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool briefly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg with a whisk or spoon.
  4. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to low speed. Slowly add the molasses mixture and then the yeast mixture. After the dough comes together mix for 7 minutes, or until smooth. The dough will be sticky (it should stick to the bottom of the bowl), but if it seems too wet add up to 1/4 cup additional flour, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead by hand for an additional minute to form a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  6. Butter the bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Put the melted stick of butter in one small bowl, and the brown sugar in another.
  7. When the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Cut dough into 64 pieces and roll the pieces into balls. One at a time, dip the balls in butter, then roll in brown sugar, and place in the bundt pan, making all attempts to distribute the balls evenly.
  8. Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for 1 more hour. (Or you could be a gambler and refrigerate the dough overnight, and then let it come to room temperature in the morning just before baking for breakfast). The balls should be puffy and about an inch below the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the monkey bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes (but no longer!). Invert onto a cake stand and cool for another 5-10 minutes. Devour!

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