Day 12: Caramel Monkey Bread
So, you know how yesterday I said that the Salted Caramel sauce with Maple Bourbon was just about the most delicious thing I have ever eaten? That is still true, but it is also true that today’s recipe is almost as good as yesterday’s, and that is mostly because it includes yesterday’s sauce.
After I made the caramel sauce, I started thinking about all the things that it would go well with. Ice cream. Cake. Coffee. And then I thought of bread. Monkey bread. What if I used the caramel sauce with monkey bread? Now, normally I don’t love monkey bread. I find it too sticky, kinda how I feel about sticky buns as well. They are always good for a few bites, but after that, stuff starts sticking to my teeth and it loses its charm for me. But, with this awesome sauce, how could it be bad? So, I tried it.
Oh my goodness, it was amazing! It was soft and gooey, but not sticky. There was just enough sweetness to let you know you were not having a plain roll, but not so much that it felt like you were having a serving of candy with your breakfast.
I loved it. The boys loved it. The husband even loves it and he hates sticky things.
Do you want to hear the best news about this recipe? You can make it ahead of time. It can be made and assembled the day before and refrigerated to be popped into the oven when you wake up the next morning. Or, if you are really thinking ahead, you can make it several weeks ahead of time and freeze it. Yes, I said you could freeze it! Then, whenever you want to bake it, just take it out of the freezer, let it sit for a bit while the oven preheats, and then you bake it. It just needs an extra 15-20 minutes in the oven.
When I made this, I split the dough in half and made two loaf shaped breads so that I could bake one immediately and freeze one for later. If you want to feed more people, you can put all the dough in a bundt pan.
This is also a really fun thing to do with the kids. They loved helping out and it makes the tedious job of rolling little balls of dough in butter and sugar go by much more quickly.
It is so good that this monkey bread has been officially voted in to the standard Christmas list of baked goods. In order to make this very short list, everyone has to love it. Many breads have auditioned, but few make it. This group includes Pannetone, Pandoro, Snowflake Buns, and, now, Caramel Monkey Bread.
If you have taken my advice and made the caramel sauce from yesterday, I hope you will take my advice today and make this bread. If you are feeling really generous, you can make the sauce and the bread and give it away as a gift. That would just about make you a saint, I think!
If you do make it, be sure to put the pans on another baking pan to catch the drips. Otherwise, you will get a house full of smoke because that caramel sauce will definitely bubble up. Ask me how I know, haha. Also, when you eat it, be sure to scrape up that yummy sauce with each little pillow of dough! Yum.
With that, my Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts is done. I think I said that the deadline is midnight tonight to enter, but this post is a little late in the day, so I will extend the deadline to 6pm tomorrow, December 20, Eastern standard time. I will announce the winner tomorrow night. Leave me a comment to be entered. Tell me what you would love to get for Christmas this year.
Caramel Monkey Bread
makes one large bundt bread or two loaf pan breads
3 3/4 cups or 18.5 ounces all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
1 envelope of instant yeast or a scant tablespoon
1 cup hot water, not over 115 degrees
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2/3 cup of caramel sauce (see recipe here)
6 Tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup toasted pecans(optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, dry milk, and yeast.
Melt the butter in the hot water.
With the stand mixer on low speed, add the buttered water and eggs to the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Stop the mixer and cover the bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle on the salt and continue mixing the dough until it is smooth. If it does not clear the sides of the bowl after five minutes, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it does. Be sure to let the flour fully incorporate before adding more flour.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your house. Meanwhile, prepare your pans and filling.
Spray with oil or butter your bundt pan or two 8 1/2 by 4 inch loaf pans with oil. Pour the caramel into the bottom of your pan(s). If using the pecans, sprinkle half of them over the caramel in the pans.
Melt the butter in a small bowl. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl.
When the dough has risen, scrape it onto your counter. Divide it into 4 pieces and then cut each piece into 12-16 more pieces. Roll into little balls.
Dip each ball into the butter and then into the brown sugar mixture to coat. Drop the balls into the baking pans. Repeat with all the balls, evenly distributing them. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
Cover the pans and let them rise until just doubled, about an hour. If you are making them ahead of time, make sure they are tightly wrapped and then put it in the freezer or refrigerator after they are fully risen the second time.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If your pans are cold, just take them out, unwrap them and let them sit on the counter until the oven is preheated.
Cover the pans loosely with foil and place on a baking sheet. Don’t skip this step! The caramel will bubble up and drip out!
Bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes for unchilled dough. For chilled dough, bake for another 25 minutes. For frozen dough, bake for another 40 minutes. These are all estimates. If you want to check for sure if it is done, slip a knife into the dough between two of the balls and look inside. If it still looks doughy, bake a little longer.
Have a rimmed plate or platter ready for the bread when it comes out of the oven. When the bread is done, take it out and turn it over onto your serving plate within a few minutes. Be careful as the caramel sauce is very hot! Try not to burn your fingers when you eat it. This is best served warm and eaten within a day.