monkey bread!

On Saturday we went to visit the newest addition to our crew, and I brought him (and his mom and dad) some monkey bread. He happened to be dressed in a monkey onesie, dressed for the occasion!

I’d never had or made monkey bread, and ever since I heard of it, I knew it had to be made one of these days. I used the recipe from my Baked:Explorations cookbook, and like everything else I’ve tried from that book, it didn’t disappoint!

I have had trouble in the past with my yeast recipes rising properly, and I finally figured out that I must have been heating the milk to too high of a temperature for the yeast. Below are a couple of pictures of my properly rising dough after I actually used a thermometer in the milk heating process. What a difference!

Moral of the story, don’t just guess that your milk is “a little hotter than room temp.” Use a thermometer for a much better yeast rising turnout! And now for the recipe…

Monkey Bread

For the Bubble Bread
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cinnamon-sugar coating
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the Monkey Bubble Bread
In a small saucepan, warm your milk to slightly above room temperature, then remove it from the heat, add yeast and whisk to dissolve. (Do not warm it beyond 110 degrees F or you will kill the yeast).

In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar and salt until combined.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until combined.

Keeping the mixer on low, slowly stream in the milk until combined. Add the melted butter and mix until the dough comes together. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky, but not sticky, 8-10 minutes. The dough should mound together and easily come off the bottom of the mixing bowl. (If the dough is too wet, add some flour. If it is too dry, add a tiny bit of water.)

Spray the bottom and sides of a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to make sure it is completely covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Remove it from the bowl and pat it into a rough circle approximately 8 inches diameter. Use a bench knife or serrated knofe to cut dough into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 ounce each)-alternatively, use your hands to pinch apart the dough. Roll the pieces into balls (they don’t have to be perfectly round). Place the balls on the sheet pan (you will get about 60 pieces in all). Cover the balls lightly with plastic wrap.

Make the Cinnamon Sugar Coating
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a separate bowl.

Assemble the Bread
Generously spray a 10 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough balls and dip one ball in the melted butter. Let the excess butter drip back in to the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture and place it in the Bundt pan. Continue this process with each ball, until you have several layers, arranging them as if you are building a brick wall.

Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap. Set it in a warm area of the house for about 1 hour, or until the dough balls have doubled in size and appear puffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic and bake the Bundt until the top layer is a deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.

Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm. Should you have any leftovers (this is rare), simply reheat them in a 300-degree oven until warm to the touch.

This stuff is seriously good. Make it when you can bring it somewhere to share…cause you don’t wanna eat it all yourself! It also makes your kitchen smell ridiculous. In the cab on the way to my friend’s house, our cab driver told us how good it smelled multiple times. I wanted to give him some, but I felt weird picking off a couple sticky balls to hand to him. Best shared with friends and family…who can do their own ball picking. :)

grasshopper bars

I made these for my friend Annie who just had her baby, and loves loves loves anything chocolate and mint. When I first got my Baked:Explorations cookbook, I saw this recipe and knew I had to eventually make it for her. These taste like giant Andes mints. Seriously awesome. Do it.

Baked Grasshopper Bars

ingredients:

For the brownie base:
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
  • 5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the buttercream:
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons creme de menthe
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes 

directions:

  1. To make the brownie base: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder. 
  3. Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature. 
  4. Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. 
  5. Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the creme de menthe filling. 
  7. To make the buttercream: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  8. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy. 
  9. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency.

  10. If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.
  11. To make the chocolate glaze: In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat. 
  12. Pour the mixture over the chilled creme de menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens. 
  13. Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately. 

olive oil orange bundt cake

This is a really great spring cake, good for any time of the day! It’s from my Baked cookbook (thanks tumblr buddy!!) and it only makes me want to make every other recipe in that book. Awesome.

We had a busy weekend of painting, cleaning and putting together Ikea furniture. I actually love putting together Ikea furniture. I know, strange. My parents came down to drop of their dog so that we could dog sit while they visit my sister in Florida. For dinner, I made the Sunday Sauce and Braciola from my Frankie’s Spuntino Handbook (also thanks tumblr buddy!). It was a perfect Sunday afternoon meal. On to the recipe!

olive oil orange bundt cake, from the Baked cookbook

ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality!)
  • freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted for dusting

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a 10 inch bundt pan with cooking spray (or butter and four).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and light. Slowly pour in the sugar and beat until it is completely incorporated. Add the yogurt and olive oil and mix thoroughly until combined. Add the orange zest and vanilla, and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat until just combined.
  5. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Scoop one cup of egg whites into the batter, and fold in gently using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until they are almost completely combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes (the cake took about 60-70 minutes to finish for me, but my oven is not the best), or until a sharp knife comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto rack.
  8. The cake can be stored at room temp, covered tightly, for up to 3 days.

*Note: I didn’t use a glaze on this cake and it was great, but if you want to make one go for it! You can use 1/4 cup fresh OJ from your zested oranges, whisked into 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle the glaze on the cake and let is set before serving.

This is a great cake, made with healthy fat instead of butter. I even used fat free yogurt, because that’s what I had in the fridge, and it turned out great! Of course there’s still sugar in there, but you can’t take out all the good stuff!

Oh, and one more thing…

I don’t wanna turn this into a baby blog…but just wanted to update those of you who care on the progress! I can’t wait for July, and to have a little helper in the kitchen!