|Monkey Bread after the second rise, ready to go into the oven.|
My first cookbook, The Urban Vegan, included a recipe for Deconstructed Monkey Bread. I created it because, although I love all the flavors of Monkey Bread [cinnamon, sugar, sticky caramel], I don't always have time to wait around for the yeast to rise, and frankly, sometimes, I just can't always be bothered. But yesterday's untimely snowstorm inspired some extreme kitchen lingering. So I set out to further "healthify" and veganize a traditional yeasted Monkey Bread recipe that I spotted in Cooking Light. While this baked, my loft smelled much more fragrant than a candle shop. I'm sure the neighbors were jealous. Scroll down for the recipe...
|Monkey Bread is perfect for breakfast with coffee or tea. I like it warmed with extra Earth Balance [I know, I know]|
Working with Yeast for Neophytes
If you've never worked with yeast before, understanding the basic science behind the rising process is an important foundation. Once you "get" how yeast works, you'll be less apt to mess up the process.
Yeast is a living organism. It's dormant in packages and jars, much like seeds in a packet. Like seeds, yeast needs nourishment, moisture, and warmth to grow. So think of your yeast as a little pet that needs to be nurtured. The first step is to add warm liquid to the yeast to activate it or "wake it up." This is the most important step: If the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast. Too cool, and the yeast won't wake up. Many recipes list optimal "wake up" temperatures between 110-125 degrees, but I don't own a thermometer and have never used one. I just use the "feeding the baby" wrist temperature rule. You want the liquid very warm, but not so warm that it would scald a baby's--or an adult's mouth. If it feels neutral but warm on your wrist, it's probably okay.
The yeast also needs food, which is nearly always some form of sugar [In this recipe's case, it's maple syrup]. Once the yeast is warm and starts consuming the sugar, it emits carbon dioxide [yeast farts?!], which – you guessed it – causes your baked goods to rise to light and lovely new heights.
- 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 T Earth Balance, melted
- 3/4 cup neutral, non-dairy milk--very warm*
- 3 T orange juice, very warm*
- 3 T maple syrup
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 2 T Earth Balance, melted
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 6 T powdered sugar
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- 1 T non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp orange zest [optional]
Makes 1 bundt pan of Monkey Bread, about 12 substantial servings
- Spray a large bowl and a bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer's mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast, and using dough hook, stir briefly to mix.
- In a glass bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, heat the Earth Balance, milk, orange juice and maple syrup until very warm.
- With mixer running, slowly add the warm liquid. Mix on medium until spring and smooth, about 5 minutes or so. Gather dough into a ball, roll in the bowl to coat with cooking spray, then cover with a tea towel or aluminum foil and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise– about 1 hour.
- Mix cinnamon coating ingredients in a shallow dish.
- Mix "glue" ingredients in a shallow dish.
- Punch down dough and divide into 8 balls. [Cover the balls you're not working with so they don't dry out.] Roll each ball into an 8-inch log and cut into 3 pieces. Roll each one into a ball. Dip the ball in the "glue," then roll it in the sugar, then toss it in the oiled bundt pan. Continue this way until you use up all the dough,
- Again, cover the bundt pan with foil or a tea towel, and let it rise somewhere warm and draft-free until doubled in bulk, about an hour. About 15 minutes before the yeast has crescendoed, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. [Enjoy the aroma!]
- While the bread is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients.
- Let the bread cool for about 5 minutes, then flip it out onto a large plate. [You can also just leave it in the bundt pan, which doesn't look as pretty, but I find much easier to store]
- Drizzle with glaze and enjoy!