Monkey Bread

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for?  Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say anything.  In the States, we take everything for granted.  I don’t even mean material things either.  As I go through my list of things I’m thankful for (my family, my family away from family, my relationship with God, this blog and the joy it brings me, seeing people’s lives change before my eyes, the lessons I’m learning about relationships) I realize that very few of them are material!  What are you thankful for?  Think hard now!  Don’t tell me something like… my car.  Pshh.  What are you really thankful for that if you didn’t have you would be a different person or seriously altered?

Now, secondly, aren’t traditions lovely?  When I have a family I want to make lots of traditions for my kids. I wanna have pancakes on weekends, birthday donuts, birthday week, cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, hot chocolate at midnight on Christmas eve, fireworks on Christmas Eve!  There’s something special about having that connection with a particular time of year.  Oh I LOVE traditions.  My parents didn’t do a whole lot of traditions for Thanksgiving or Christmas, which I think is sad.  And the things that we did used to do all the time we don’t do anymore… because my mom is getting more relaxed.  “Come on Mom!  Let’s make some Christmas cookies.”  “No Trev, it’s too much work.”  Pooooo!

In Chad and Amanda’s family it was a tradition to make Monkey Bread for Thanksgiving breakfast.  It’s now my future family tradition as well.

What are some of your holiday or yearly traditions?  I need to know!  My future family depends upon it!

Monkey Bread

Dough
1/2 pound mashed potato (russet)
1 cup warm milk (110F)
1/3 cup warm water (110 F)
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (or 1 packet) yeast
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt

Sugar coat
1 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cup butter

Sauce
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

How this baby is done

Grease a bundt cake pan and set aside.

Melt your butter for the dough in the microwave.  Put in a mixing bowl the warm water (110 F) and dissolve the yeast.  Let sit 5 minutes or until foamy.  If you’re yeast didn’t foam you may have killed it with too hot of water, or your yeast is dead (to learn more about yeast go here).  Then mix in the warm milk, melted butter, mashed potato, and 1/4 cup sugar.  I add potato because it gives it an incredible moist factor!  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and salt and then slowly mix in the milk mixture into the flour mixture.  If the dough isn’t coming together mix in 2 to 4 tbsp more of flour.  Turn out onto a floured surface and work in a little bit more flour. Form the dough into a ball and put into a greased dish.  Cover and place in a warm area.  I turned on the oven on 400 F for a few minutes and then turned it off and put my dough in there.  Let rise for 50-60 minutes so it’s double in size.

Take your dough out of the greased  bowl and cut into four pieces.  Then cut those pieces into 16 pieces each (you should have 64 pieces).  Melt the 1 3/4 cup butter in a bowl in the microwave.  In a separate bowl mix together the 1 cup sugar and cinnamon so it’s equally distributed.  Then roll the dough pieces into little balls, dip them in the butter and then roll them in the sugar mix you made.  Then, put these into the bundt pan and let rise another 50-60 minutes.  They may rise almost over the pan.

While the dough is rising again, get the sauce ready.  Melt the two sticks of butter and then add the 1/2 cup brown sugar and work that together over medium high heat until they become one.  When the dough is done rising, pour this magic juice evenly over the dough.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Then get that bread in there.  Let bake for 30-40 minutes or until nice and brown on top.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes and then plop that baby on out onto your serving platter.

Whip up real quick that glaze with a whisk.  Just whisk together the milk and powdered sugar til there aren’t any lumps.  I also added a 3/4 tsp of vanilla to this.  That gave it a little extra flavor.  Yumm!  Then drizzle this over your monkey bread.

You’re supposed to serve this warm and gooey.  I’d have to agree that is the best way to serve this.  Good luck!  And don’t forget to let me know what your family traditions are! Aaaand don’t forget to LIKE me on Facebook.  www.facebook.com/thkblog

https://thehandicappedkitchen.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/alive-or-dead-how-to-proof-your-yeast/

Moravian Sugar Cake… but it’s really bread

When I moved out into my own apartment, the very first opportunity I got, I went to the Humane Society and adopted a cat.  He was perfect.  He was black and white, the classic tuxedo kitty look.  I named him Chopin after my favorite piano genius.  And I loved him very much.

All you apartment renters out there know that pets+apartments don’t always mix.  There are extra fees and papers to sign and I’m thinking, I just want a friend!  So, I decided to hide him from my apartment manager.

At the Humane Society I had to fill out paper work… a ton of it.  I understand why, but at the same time I was looking around the small place and thinking, you have cats hanging off your ceiling fan is this really humane.  The paperwork asked for my apartment’s contact number and I faked it.  The lady behind the counter asked me if I had written permission from my apartment to have a cat.  “Yup,” I said, “The manager is really relaxed and told me he really didn’t care.”  Then, horror of horrors, she looked at my paperwork and saw the contact number and asked if she could call it.  I didn’t know who she was going to call or if she was going to get a hold of anybody!

My friend, Jordan, was there with me and when the lady turned her back she started freaking out.  She called the number and it rang and she left a message saying something like, “This is Sheryl from the K*** County Humane Society and I have Trevor here who wants to adopt a cat.  If you have any questions please call us back, bla bla bla.”  Then, she hung up and turned to me and said, “I’ll let you go with the cat, but if I find out anything funny about this, I’m coming for the cat.”

Out in the car Jordan and I busted up laughing thinking about the sap who would get to listen to that message!  Who’s Trevor and why do I care that he’s adopting a cat?!

*Sigh* I just love pets.  They are such great companions.  And I’m excited to say after much bloodshed and violent warfare the family has somewhat reluctantly agree to get a dog!  Have we gotten one yet?  Nope, but we’ve got our eyes peeled.

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This is a bread that my mom used to make when we were kids.  I asked her for the recipe about four months ago, but I never got a response.  Finally, with a death threat, I got her to respond concerning the bread to find out 1.) she doesn’t have the recipe for it anymore and 2.) it’s called a cake not a bread.  Fine, it’s a cake.  But, I still think of it as a bread.

I love this cake/bread because it’s made with potatoes.  Seriously.  It makes it a very moist cake/bread, which is ballin’.  It’s also moist because evaporated milk is poured over it before putting it in the oven.  M-mm.  This is a great dessert to eat with a cup of coffee.

Moravian Sugar Cake/Bread

The Dough
1 russet baking potatoe (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
1 packet or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

The Topping
6 tbsp unsalted butter (cut into bits)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
A bit of evaporated milk

Making the Dough

Peel and cut up the potato into small 1 inch cubes and boil in a small pot with enough water to cover about an inch over the potatoes.  Boil that for about 10-15 minutes or until very tender.  Drain and mash those babies stirring in the 2 teaspoons of water.

In a separate small bowl proof the yeast in the 1/2 cups of water.  Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy.  In a large bowl combine the yeast mixture with the potatoes and then the butter, sugar, egg, salt, and 2 1/2 cups flour until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes adding the extra cup of flour to the dough as needed.  You will want the dough to come to a generally bread dough-ish texture, though it might still be sticky.  If you add too much flour you will have a dense cake/bread.

NOTE: I´ll tell you where I botched up, but the recipe still turned out fine!  The recipe I was reading from said 3/4 a stick of butter… which I (reading quickly) read as 3/4 cup!  I put in too much butter, but since I was at high elevation more liquid in a recipe is not a bad thing.  I had to add quite a bit more than just a 1/2 cup flour to get it to a bread dough-ish texture. So, I let it go and it was perfectly fine.  So, for your sake I changed that silliness and have plainly and easily to understand 6 tablespoons in the recipe.

Put the dough into a pre-greased bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  When doubled it´s size punch down and transfer it into a pre-greased 9/13 inch pan pressing it into all the corners with greased fingers so the dough doesn´t stick to you.  Once the dough is spread evenly cover and let rise another 30 minutes.

Then, use your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon (greased) to poke holes in the dough.  Push down to the bottom of the pan and wiggle your finger or spoon handle so the hole goes all the way through.  Place the butter bits all across the bread.  In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon an sprinkle evenly over the dough.  Then, pour the evaporated milk into each of the holes you poked in the dough until each hole is fuuuuuuuull.  That´s practically one of the most magical parts of this recipe.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until it is dark brown and cooked through.  When pressed the top crust will be very firm and crunchy, but the inside will give like a soft sponge.  Just check the bottom of the pan and if it is a medium brown it´s done.

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Cinnamon Bread Twists

I think I may have mentioned this in the past, but I love Mondays.  Now, I can already hear the grumbling coming from the Northern Hemisphere, but this is my day off.  And it’s such a beautiful day.  It’s the only day that I do not leave the house.  Seriously, I don’t step a foot out the house.  My hair stays a comfortable rat’s nest, my contacts have an extra day to sleep in their solution watery bed, and a blanket is carried around my shoulders wherever I go in the house.  Sigh.  It’s true bliss.

Another part of my Mondays that I love, that involves you, is that I write my new blog posts!  For this very reason your grumbles about Mondays should turn to giddy shrieks and playful dances.  Mondays are a blessed day. 

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These are the pretty, pretty, twisty, yummy cinnamon sticks you’ll make this week, right?  They are pretty simple to make also!  Yummmmm

Cinnamon Bread Twists

Bread Twists
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze
2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoon hot water

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NOTE: Warm buttermilk looks curdled… that’s normal.
NOTE: These go really well with coffee too.
NOTE: You’re going to love these and maybe eat them all by yourself.

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water and let sit 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.  (If you want to learn about yeast go to my last post).  Then add the buttermilk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and baking soda and mix well.  I used a fork to cut in the butter. 

Stir in the flour bit by bit until a soft dough is formed and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a bowl and let rise for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place. 

When the dough has risen double it’s original size punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Roll out each half into a 16”x9” rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the dough leaving about a half inch untouched along the side that measures 16”.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture overtop and press down with the palm of your hand lightly.  This is just to secure the sugar on the dough and make sure it’s sticking.  Fold the dough in half lengthwise.  Your dough will now be 16”x 4 1/2”.  Along the 16” side pinch the dough to seal the edge.  Then cut into 4 1/2×1” rectangles.  Each strip you cut, twist two or three times and set on a pre-greased cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  While cooling mix the glaze ingredients and then spoon over the warm twists.

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That’s right… so easy, so yummy.

Alive Or Dead? How to Proof Your Yeast

Mold is so gross.  I once lived in a house that was nasty.  It was rented and it was also in this condition when I arrived, so I’m not embarrassed to tell you this.  When I moved in, I wanted to do a heavy cleaning… but, there was black mold in the shower and suddenly, I was very scared to touch it.  Being the son of my mother, who formed in me fear of filth, I did research on it and found it would probably be less work just to leave it be.  Black mold and I co-existed even though in the shower I often felt like Harry Potter facing Lord Voldemort… one of us must die!!!!

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It’s always a bit strange for me to think that when I’m eating bread I’m eating a different specie of the man-eating black mold I had in that shower.  Yeast!  Apparently it comes from a Sanskrit word yas which means, “to boil.”  We all know what yeast does though, right?  It makes our breads grow!  Baking powder and baking soda do this as well, except they rely on chemical means to make breads leavened.  Yeast, instead, is a living thing that actually feeds off of the dough!  Have I turned you off from bread yet?

Peruvian markets are strange.  You can go to a super market and find things close to how they would be in the U.S.A, but you pay the price.  Walk into the Peruvian market place and you are bombarded by strange sights and smells.  The smells are more raunchy than the sights, which makes me wonder every time how the market still functions!  Why do people come here!!!  Besides the smells the strangest thing, to me, is how you receive what you ask for.  Practically everything comes in a plastic bag!  Flour, sugar, eggs, soda!  They hand you this bag and you think… how am I going to get this thing home in one piece?  Well, several months ago we walked into a market and bought yeast and behold, yeast in a bag! 

I’m not quite sure why we bought so much of it, but we have a heaping bag of yeast and I don’t make bread that often.  The problem I ran into was wondering whether my yeast was good anymore!  So, it’s become the common practice in my kitchen to proof my yeast to make sure that it’s still good! 

Proofing is something that some recipes already call for.  You know, the bread recipes that tell you to dissolve the yeast in a cup of warm water, blah blah blah.  But, it’s believed that you don’t have to even do that as the yeast in the States is more reliable.  However, if you are extra cautious, or you just like to feel like you are a super experienced baker and like the feeling of going the extra mile in the kitchen, this is how you proof your yeast.

Imagine yeast is like a kitten instead of a fungus… I think that helps.  Kittens need water, food and a place to call home (a.k.a. my ARMS!).  It’s the same with yeast.  Yeast needs three things to grow: moisture, food and warmth.  By giving it these three things you will know if your yeast is still alive or dead.

Fill a glass with 1/4 cup warm water.  It should feel like a pleasant warm shower to the hand.  What a pleasant warm shower is varies among people.  For me, I like to have my skin boiled off.  That’s pleasant.  But, just remember, if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.  Think, nurture.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in the water.  This is the food.  Yeast loves simple sugars.  Then dissolve 2 teaspoons of yeast in the water and let sit in a warm place.  In five minutes you should have bubbly, beer-smelling, yeasty water!  If nothing has happened, it’s time to call it quits, your yeast is D.O.A.  Shed a few tears, get some closure and go to the store and get yourself some new yeast.

Don’t freak out if your yeasty mix doesn’t overflow like mine in the pictures.  I used a high ratio of sugar and yeast to make it super bubbly. 

This really may not be necessary for you to do at home, especially with how tightly sealed the yeast is in stores you should not have any problems, but if you’d like to experiment and see how this works by all means go for it. 

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TIP!  Try this the next time you are baking bread!  Breads need a warm place to rise and here’s a perfect way to give it just that.  Take a microwave safe cup and fill it half way with water and nuke it for 3-4 minutes.  Then, working quickly, scoot the cup to the far back corner of the microwave and place the dough in the microwave and close the door.  Let it rise for the time specified in the recipe.  The cup will continue to let off steam and will keep the dough in a moist and warm climate, perfect for rising!