Sunday, June 16, 2013

Monkey Bread: Why we should have more breakfast for dinner

June 1, 2013

Monkey Bread from Cook's Country

I usually have a bowl of cereal with milk and a glass of juice for breakfast. Later in the morning I'll have some fresh fruit; I call it second breakfast. Sometimes instead of cereal I'll have toasted English muffins (with butter, peanut butter, and jam) or toasted raisin bread (with butter and peanut butter). Variety is good. On occasion, when we have an early-morning event to attend, Diane and I will have breakfast at Starbucks. For me that means some tea and one of their pastries; they're not wonderful pastries but they're OK. On Christmas morning we always have cinnamon rolls, though not made from scratch.

I enjoy having fresh, scratch-made baked goods for breakfast–muffins, buns, rolls, doughnuts–but getting up early to make something just isn't practical, especially if it's a yeast bread. And I don't need the calories, at least not on a regular basis, but what harm can there be in the occasional doughnut?

But I can bake something that is normally associated with breakfast later in the day and see how well it keeps. I've been wanting to try this recipe for Monkey Bread and so I spent a Saturday afternoon doing just that. The origin of the curious name of this delicacy is unknown, but it's a sweet, sticky pull-apart loaf with a soft, rich dough. Being a yeast bread it takes some time to prepare as the dough needs to rise twice. In addition, making 64 balls of dough each of which is dipped in butter and then a cinnamon sugar mixture is time consuming, taking about half an hour. I found that the amount of melted butter and cinnamon/sugar specified in the recipe didn't cover all 64 balls of dough, but it was easy to prepare some more.

The payoff after waiting for dough to rise and the time it took to forming the loaf came when the bread was served. It was ready just in time for us to have it for dessert after dinner and it was very good. We ate it while it was still warm from the oven. It was crispy from the caramel, sweet and loaded with a lot of cinnamon flavor. The crumb was rich, buttery, soft, and sweet but with enough texture to provide just the right amount of chew. It was much better than anything that you could buy from a store or a coffee shop.

I thought about freezing some of the bread but it was disappearing so fast that I decided that wouldn't be necessary. It was never as good as when it was fresh but it was very convenient to snack on. Passing through the kitchen, it was hard to resist the temptation to pull off one little piece of bread to eat. And then a second. And a third.

The challenge still remains: how can a delicious fresh pastry or bread be prepared for breakfast? Since the solution is not getting up very early in the morning to bake, it must be changing the time that breakfast is served. Having breakfast for dinner is a long standing tradition of ours. I shall take advantage of this and include baked goods on my next breakfast for dinner menu. The leftovers? I can have those for breakfast all week long.

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