The Sweet Hereafter

Mmmmmmonkey Bread!

What better childhood memory than one that’s fragrant with cinnamon, sugar, and freshly baked bread?

My friend Michele remembers how her mom used to bake bread every Monday. “She’d make enough bread for the whole week. And she’d use the same dough to make cinnamon buns for dessert.”

Imagine coming home to a warm house filled with the aroma of baking bread. Is there anything more wholesome, more comforting – and more nostalgic? Certainly the days when moms regularly made their own bread are all but gone. But it’s good to know that the recipes are still there for us to pull out and dust off whenever we want to take the time to bake bread at home.

Here’s an old-fashioned treat that kids will love. It’s easy enough that they can help you do it. You don’t need any special equipment for it other than a bundt pan. Make it a real family event – perhaps some snowy afternoon this winter. While waiting for the dough to rise, play board games or read books….then watch their faces light up as you pull out the finished product and turn it out onto a plate.

MONKEY BREAD
adapted from a recipe from cooks.com

For the dough:
3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages instant yeast (1 package = about 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1/4 ounce)
If you are confused about yeast, you might find this article helpful.
2 eggs
4 cups sifted flour

For the glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a microwaveable bowl or measuring cup, heat the milk for about 90 seconds on high. Add the butter, sugar, and salt and mix well. Cool to lukewarm.

Warm up a large bowl by running hot water over it. Measure in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast evenly over the surface of the water and stir together until dissolved.

Add the milk mixture, the eggs, and 2 cups of the flour.

Mix until smooth with a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon.

Stir in the remaining 2 cups flour. At this point I like to roll up my sleeves and use my hands to mix and knead the dough until it comes together in a large ball.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set in a warm place. Allow to rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Mix well and add the chopped walnuts.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Punch the dough down. Pinch off small pieces and roll into them into 1 1/2 inch balls. Dip the balls into the melted butter and sugar mixture.

Arrange the balls in layers in a buttered bundt pan.

Allow to rise again, covered, in a warm place for another half an hour.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until done. Remove from pan while still warm.

Serve with hot chocolate or ice cream!

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