Monday, 10 December 2012

Baking Sunday: Cinnamon Monkey Bread for Domestic Sluttery's Pudding Club

Cinnamon is a very Christmassy spice, isn't it? Add it to mulled wine, spiced biscuits, chocolate cake and it gives an instant festive kick to things. I was considering this when I first heard the Domestic Sluts Pudding Club theme for December was going to be cinnamon and had grand thoughts of festive baking.  Quite how I ended up making this monkey bread bundt, I'm not quite sure really - it's not that Christmassy at all. But it is a bread of yummy goodness with brown sugar caramel and a double hit of cinnamon so I reckon it's still worth writing about. 

I like big bundts and I cannot lie

When I discovered we were having guests staying for Christmas I immediately started planning our Christmas meals (as you do). Obviously festive food is the most indulgent food you can think of and I remembered some buttery cinnamon dough balls I had for breakfast in a diner in America once (home of the most indulgent foods you can think of). A sudden thought struck me - what if there were many of these dough balls in one delicious loaf? Well, the Americans had already got there before me with this delicious treat known as Monkey Bread. It's slightly different to the doughnut like treats I had in that American diner which were dusted dry with powdered sugar and cinnamon but held together with a buttery brown sugar caramel with a very liberal sprinkling of cinnamon. I've also added a cinnamon glaze because really, you can't have a bundt cake and not have a glaze too. I can't wait to make this again at Christmas and it can totally be made ahead too - instructions are in the recipe. Like all great comfort foods, it's best enjoyed still warm the oven and just about falling apart.  This is a Christmas breakfast tradition in the making!

Cinnamon Monkey Bread

Butter for greasing
30ml melted butter
235ml warmed milk
80ml warmed water
55g granulated sugar
1 sachet of instant yeast
350g plain flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

Brown Sugar Coating
200g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
120ml melted butter

Cinnamon Glaze
100g icing sugar, plus extra if required
1 tablespoons milk, plus extra if required
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Ensure there is an oven rack in a medium-low position and heat oven to 100°C. Turn the oven off once it reaches this temperature.
2. In a large measuring jug, mix together the warm milk and water and the melted butter. (Note: An easy way to do this is to melt the butter in the microwave on low for 1 minute, then add the water and milk and have another 30 seconds in the microwave to warm up). Stir in the sugar and the yeast and leave for 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
3. Mix together the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and slowly add the milk mixture to the well and stir until mixed.  If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix until smooth for around 6-7 minutes.  Otherwise turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth for around 10 minutes.  Add some additional flour if the mix is too wet.  Form into a smooth round ball.  
4.  Lightly coat a large bowl with a tablespoon of oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and coat surface of dough with more oil.  Cover the bowl is plastic wrap and place in the warm oven until it doubles in size, for around 1 hour. 
5.  While the dough is proofing, make preparations for the brown sugar coating.  Place the melted butter in one bowl and mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second bowl.
6.  Once the dough has risen, flip the dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into a flat square.  Break off a small piece and roll into a small ball of dough.  Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl.  Roll in brown sugar mixture and then layer balls in Bundt pan.  You can use your hands or a fork - either way, it will get messy.  Don't worry about it not having much volume, it will rise again.
7.  Cover the tin tightly with cling film and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen to nearly the top of the pan, for around 1 hour.
8.  Remove the tin from oven and heat oven to 170°C.  Remove the cling film from the tin and  bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, around 30 minutes.   9.  Cool in the tin  for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
10.  While the cake cools, make the glaze.  Beat together the sifted icing sugar, cinnamon and milk together until smooth.  The glaze should be quite runny but have a bit of substance to it, add more milk if required. 
11.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, letting it run over the top and sides of the cake.  Best served warm with a cup of coffee.