Sunday, February 08, 2009

Blueberry Monkey Bread

Monkeys! Who doesn't love monkeys? They can fly spaceships, run hotels, play professional baseball, even catapult a B-List actor to the presidency! So what could be better than monkey bread?

One of my favorite ways to eat any kind of bread is to just pull off a chunk with my hands and go to town. Since monkey bread is simply a loaf comprised of bite-sized rolls, it's the ideal treat for the bread-loving savage. This particular recipe was inspired by the Fluffy Blueberry Cardamom Monkey Bread at Bake My Day and James Beard's recipe in his classic book, Beard on Bread. It's a sweet and spicy twist on such breakfast classics as the blueberry muffin or the blueberry pancake.

Blueberry Monkey Bread
  • 2 cups milk, luke warm
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 10 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let proof, 5 minutes. Combine the 2 tbs.sugar, 2 tbs. butter, egg, zest, cardamom, salt and 1 cup of the flour in a bowl. Add the milk/yeast mixture and stir with a spatula until smooth. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir again to a smooth paste. Add another cup of flour and mix to incorporate, adding more of the flour as you think necessary. It should be a soft dough, but not so sticky that it adheres to the side of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead by hand, just a couple of times. For bulkrise, place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Return to a floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Let it rest for another 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, butter two loaf pans.

In a small saucepan, melt one stick of butter with the blueberries, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the cinnamon. To shape, divide the dough into ping-pong ball-sized balls by rolling them in your hands. I dusted my fingers with a tiny bit of flour when the dough got too sticky to mold. Roll the balls in the butter mixture (I found a slotted spoon quite helpful) and line each pan with them, arranging in loose layers. Pour what is left of the butter mixture over the top of the loaves. Cover loosely with a foil tent and let the dough rise to the top of the loaf pans, about a half hour. Place both pans in a preheated 375F oven and bake for 40 minutes, until golden.

Makes two loaves.