Getting the festive feeling, I decided to make something my mom used to make when I lived back at home - monkey bread! My mom used to make it with refrigerated biscuit dough, and it always tasted great, but I decided to try doing it from scratch and found the below recipe at the Baking Bites blog. Definitely take the short cut with the dough if you'd like, I think majority of the people do anyways.
Its definitely been well over a decade since I had this, and I was super excited to make this. The kiddos, however, had reservations about it at first. They were excited to help mama bake and asked what we were making - I told them some yummy monkey bread. Immediately, Thing One breaks down into tears and has a panic attack with heaving convulsions, wondering if we are actually cooking real monkeys, lol. Not only is she an eight year old vegetarian (and has been for two and a half years), but monkeys are her favorite animals...she's such a tree hugger and I love it. I assured her that there wasn't a single drop of monkeys in there, or bananas, or anything related to monkeys for that matter. According to Nancy Reagan, it is named as such because "when you make it, you have to monkey around with it." Just in case you were curious.
Regardless, once we got down to business, the kids had a blast rolling the dough balls and dipping it in the butter and sugar mix. And its every bit as good as I remember...except for the fact that I got distracted by my dogs and slightly overcooked it by 5 minutes or so, and the sugar mixture turned out a little darker and chewier than it should have been. That didn't stop anyone from devouring this monkey-free monkey bread, though - in fact, I had to keep turning the dang platter around to find a spot where someone didn't come up and sneak a piece so I could take a picture. This is a great recipe make during the holidays, and would be a fun breakfast item for Christmas morning. I just might have to make it again very soon...
Classic Monkey Bread
1/4 cup water, warm (100-110˚)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup milk, warm (100-110˚)
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Lightly grease a standard 10-in bundt pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (all mixing can be done by hand, as well), combine warm water and yeast. Let stand for 2 minutes, until yeast is slightly foamy.
3. Stir in 1 cup of the flour, along with the salt, sugar, vanilla, egg, 2 tbsp melted butter and warm milk. Mix well, until dough is fairly smooth. Put the dough hook attachment onto your mixer and gradually add in the remaining flour, mixing at medium speed until dough comes easily away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough hook and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar and spices. Place melted butter in a nearby bowl and get a fork out, as well.
5. Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and gently deflate so that dough is relatively flat (maybe 1/2-3/4 inch thick) Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut off small pieces of dough to form 1/2 to 1-inch balls (I prefer slightly smaller ones, personally). As you cut each piece of dough, roll it into a ball in the palms of your hands. Dunk each ball in butter, use the fork to remove it and transfer it to the sugar mixture to be thoroughly coated. Place all coated dough balls into prepared bundt pan.
6. Once all balls have been coated and places in the pan, cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let bread rise for 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 350˚ while the bread rises.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Bread will spring back when lightly pressed.
9. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving platter. Eat immediately (or reheat leftovers), as the bread is best served warm and gooey.