Recently my friend Wendy asked me for ideas on a recipe for a cinnamon-type bread. This was for her son Callum, who loves cinnamon flavoured bread, and was eager to make some.
I had come across a recipe several months back called Monkey Bread. According to Wikipedia it is virtually unknown outside America, so that was enough for me to want to try it! The monkey bread is comprised of little pieces of sweet bread dough, coated in cinnamon sugar and then placed in a ring mould, and when it is ready the idea is that everyone picks at the little pieces of bread. Apparently the origins of its name are unknown, but it’s possibly something to do with its resemblance to the monkey puzzle tree.
I looked up a recipe and found one at The Pink Whisk blog, which is by Ruth Clemens who was a finalist on the first series of BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’. I have adapted a couple of things from Ruth’s version. You will need to get one of those ring moulds (bundt or kugelhopf pan). It looks difficult, but it’s really not!
500g Strong White Bread Flour
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
55g Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoon Golden Syrup
15g Dried Fast Acting Yeast
2 tablespoon Milk
150ml Milk (approx)
Cinnamon Sugar Ingredients:
100g Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
150g Unsalted Butter
100g Dark Brown Sugar
In a small bowl, warm the milk in the microwave, until it’s lukewarm. Add the yeast, stirring it together. Leave to the side for now.
In a large bowl place the flour, cinnamon and salt. I don’t sift, I just take a whisk and stir it about for 30 seconds, which incorporates air, gets rid of lumps and is less messy than sifting. Then take the butter and rub it through the flour mix with your fingers until no lumps of butter are visible or can be felt. Next, add the eggs, syrup and yeast mix. Add a splash of the milk too and begin to mix (by hand – it’s more fun that way). If it appears too dry keep adding milk until no dry ingredients are visible and the dough becomes one mass. Next take it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes. Whatever technique you have for kneading is fine - just vent your frustrations!!
The dough should appear smooth and flexible now. Place this in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl in a warm spot for an hour and a half. No peeking!
Whilst this is happening, make the sugar coating by stirring the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Also get your ring mould ready, which doesn’t require greasing.
After the hour and a half, remove the towel and your dough should have risen. Punch it back and tip it onto the work surface into a rough log shape. This is where you can now chop the dough up, I sliced the log breadth wise about half an inch thick, then each slice into three or four pieces.
Take each of these individual pieces, dunk it in the sugar coating liberally and throw into your mould. Do this for each piece until the mould is full, cover with the tea towel and leave for another hour in that cosy spot.
During this time, pre-heat the oven to about 180oC (mine’s is fan assisted – alter yours accordingly if necessary). Also towards the end of the hour heat the 150g butter in a saucepan along with the dark brown sugar until it is all melted together. When the hour is up, remove the tea towel and carefully pour the sugar/butter mix over the dough in the mould. Pop this in your oven for 40 – 45 minutes – and if the top looks like it is burning slightly during baking, pop foil over the top.
Once the time is up, remove it from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. It is like molten lava so be VERY careful. Then using your plate of choice, invert the mould onto the plate and it should plop out (if not, tease with a knife).
I would wait another wee while until the syrup has cooled before trying to tear at it. But when you do try – on boy is it worth the wait!! It is sugary, cinnamony, buttery, just lovely. I took this into work and everyone loved it. Including Wendy who took some home for her son. She said she might try adding raisins when she makes it. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!