Caramel Monkey Bread
rolls from here, icing from here
3 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface (I used one cup whole wheat pastry)
2 teaspoons salt
Brown Sugar Coating:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar (try reducing to 2/3 or 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1. Butter a Bundt pan (a non-stick pan works best) with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Use a pastry brush to really help get inside all of those nooks and crannies. Set aside.
2. In a large liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk, water, 2 Tbs. melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix the flour and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the milk mixture. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. If you think the dough is too wet (i.e. having a hard time forming a cohesive mass), add 2 tablespoons flour at a time and mix until the dough comes together (it should still be on the sticky side, just not overly wet). I had to add about an extra 2/3 cup flour because of my humid climate. Coat a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat lightly with the cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1-2 hours (alternately, you can preheat the oven to 200 degrees, turning it off once it reaches 200 degrees and place the covered bowl in the oven to speed up the rising time).
3. For the sugar coating, while the dough is rising, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place the melted butter in a second bowl or shallow pie plate. Set aside.
4. To form the bread, gently remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 64 pieces. I found it easiest to divide the huge mass into 4 pieces, and then make 16 out of each 4th. See, you DO use math in the real world!!! I just got a bench scraper, BTW, and LOVE it!
5. Roll each dough piece into a ball (it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it into a rough ball-shape). Working one at a time, dip the balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl or pie plate. Roll the dipped dough ball in the brown sugar mixture, then layer the balls in the Bundt pan, staggering the seams where the dough balls meet as you build layers. You may need a little extra sugar/cinnamon mixture.
6. Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and let the monkey bread rise until puffy and they have risen 1-2 inches from the top of the pan, 1-2 hours (again, you can use the warm oven approach to speed this up).
7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (remove the pan from the oven if you placed it there to rise). Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cover with foil at the end if browning too quickly. Cool the monkey bread in the pan for 5 minutes (any longer and the bread will be too sticky and hard to remove!), then turn out on a platter or large plate and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
8. While rolls are cooling, prepare the caramel icing: Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir until combined. Continue cooking over low heat for another 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Add the heavy whipping cream and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Whisk in the powdered sugar until nice and smooth. Pour most of the icing over the monkey bread. Reserve some for dipping, if desired.
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