|Monkey Bread - it doesn't stay whole for long.|
It's a funny name, and it's a fun loaf of bread. I don't know what it is about pull-apart loaves, but they invite nibbling. People who would normally eat one slice of bread often find themselves unable to resist pulling off just one more little bit. And then one more. And then this little piece is dangling ... this bread simply doesn't last long.
While I normally suggest that you don't slice a loaf of bread until it's completely cooled, the monkey bread doesn't want you to wait. Go ahead and serve it warm.
When most people think of monkey bread, they think of the cinnamon-sugar version, but there's no reason why you can't make a herby, savory version that's perfect for lunch, brunch, or dinner. The flavors I chose for this one were garlic, paprika, rosemary and thyme. If you now have a song stuck in your head, don't blame me. And if you don't like the combination of flavors I chose, use whatever you like.
I baked mine in a square glass baking dish, mostly because I had just pulled it out of the dishwasher and it was convenient, but you could bake it in a loaf pan, cake pan, or any fancy-shaped baking dish you have. If you're feeling artistic, you could arrange the dough balls in a pattern, or just leave it random and rustic. I used a little bit of white wheat flour in this recipe, with mostly all-purpose white flour. Feel free to adjust that ratio any way you'd like.
I gave directions for kneading this with a stand mixer, but because of the long initial rest the gluten is well on its way to being developed before the kneading starts, so this would be a good candidate for learning how to hand knead. It won't take long at all.
The instruction for making the herbed butter is written for a food processor or other similar device, but you can certainly do this step by hand. I used dry herbs because I like the results for baked toppings, but you can use fresh. Just keep in mind that dried herbs are usually about 3 times as strong as fresh (assuming that your dried herbs haven't been in the spice cabinet for ten years) so you'll need more fresh herbs for the same amount of flavor.
Savory Monkey Bread
|Just one more little nibble....|
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
2 cups (9 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted room temperature butter (divided)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the milk, sugar, yeast, and all purpose flour. Mix thoroughly, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour.
Add the white whole wheat flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the salt and 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter and continue kneading until all of the butter has been incorporated and the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball and drizzle it with a little bit of oil to coat, then put it back into the bowl (or a clean one, if you prefer). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled, about an hour - probably less, so check it at about 40 minutes to see how it's doing.
Meanwhile, put the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and paprika (and optional salt, if using) in the the bowl of your food processor or any other small chopping device, and pulse until the garlic has been chopped to small bits and the herbs are well mixed. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter to the herbs and blend until it is thoroughly combined. Set this mixture aside until you need it. There's no need to refrigerate since you want it easily spreadable.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If you want a little extra insurance that your bread won't stick to the pan you're using, spray it with a little baking spray. This shouldn't be necessary, but it's up to you.
When the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the pan, knead it a bit, then divide it into at least 32 pieces. You can divide all of them again for even smaller bits, or divide some of them so you've got some smaller and some larger pieces.
Roll each of the pieces of dough into a ball the way you would for making rolls. They don't have to be perfect, but they behave better when rising and baking if you've formed nice tight balls rather than leaving them with exposed cuts.
Dip, roll, brush or slather the herbed butter on each of the balls before you put them into your chosen baking dish. I left the bottoms of mine uncoated, but that's up to you. Arrange them loosely in the pan - you don't want a tight fit - and pile them on top of each other in whatever pattern suits you. If there's any herbed butter left after coating all the dough, you can save it for another purpose or just coat the top layer a little thicker.
|I coated mine mostly on top.|
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to double, about 30 minutes.
|See how big and puffy they are?|
Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes, until the loaf is deep golden brown. Serve hot, warm, or cooled.