Sunday, March 27, 2011

monkey bread

So I started off the weekend with a classic from work---monkey bread. I've had it on the boardwalk down in Ocean City, but it doesn't compare to the version Chef makes at work. What could be better than buttery brioche poached on the bottom in a rich toffee sauce and dusted on top with cinnamon sugar? It's labor intensive to make but none of the steps are difficult, which is a plus. Brioche (as I've learned since I make it every day at work) is actually quite easy to make. I used a version of Chef's recipe that was featured on Martha Stewart radio a few months ago.

The dough comes together in two steps.

Step one: mix together all the ingredients except the butter with the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. I put the flour and sugar together in the bowl, then put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl (SALT KILLS YEAST. I feel as if this should be a bumper sticker.) and pour the milk and eggs right on top. Mix with paddle until the the dough comes together, then switch to the dough hook and continue to knead until the dough is smooth.

Step two: gradually add small chunks of the softened butter. Don't panic----it will take close to 20 minutes to get all the butter in and for the dough to come together and form a satiny smooth ball (take a gander at the picture below so you know what you're looking for).

I let the dough rest for four hours. Meanwhile, I made the toffee sauce for the bottom of the pan. Again, super easy. Everything goes in a pot except the second addition of cream and the lemon juice (the lemon juice will curdle the cream if you add it right away). Whisk the mixture together and bring to a boil. Add the rest of cream and lemon juice then bring back to a boil. Pour it into the bottom of your pan and let it cool down a bit.

I divided the dough into 20 pieces that are 30 grams each. The recipe makes the perfect amount, though, so that you can divide it by eye into 20 pieces without weighing them out. I dipped them in butter then in cinnamon sugar and placed them in the pan.

I let it proof for an hour. I had the oven on all day, so they proofed ridiculously fast. Chef says that you can also let them proof overnight at room temp then bake them off first thing in the morning. Below you can see how large the balls will get once they are proofed.

The recipe says to bake them at 350 for 40 minutes. Let me tell you that this was way too long and the the tops of my monkey bread got a bit too crispy. They should be finished baking in 25-30 minutes at the most.

I know that this seems like it would take a long time, but believe me, it's definitely worth it. People at work go nuts for this stuff and start circling like vultures as soon as we pull the trays from the oven. I always limit myself to just one, though, because they're so addictive. Well, at least just one to start...

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