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/

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The Perfect Altitude Cake

After many failures.  After much crying and tears shed.  After near moments of sheer rage where I simply wanted to throw caution and my entire kitchen setup to the wind, I have FOUND it.  I have DONE it.  I have made the perfect Altitude Cake.  I have made an adapted chocolate cake for high altitude!

It is chocolaty.  It is delicious.  It is moist!  And it is NOT dense!  I made this cake once before, but it did not turn out as good as it did this time.  This won’t be something for which all of you get to joy and jump around the kitchen screaming praises to God, because all of you are not living at 12,000 ft above sea level, you lucky freaks.

For those of you who have to deal with falling cakes, well you will love me!

Alright, so I can’t take full credit for this cake recipe.  It is a tweaked recipe.  The original I found on All Recipes.  If you have never been to said site, you are missing out and need to head over there as soon as you are done reading this!   Dark Chocolate Cake is the name of the recipe that I found and tweaked.  If you live where altitude is no problem, then you can just click that link and make according to that recipe.  NOTE: I would highly suggest using the comments as a guide.  More often than not, you will find adjustments there that make all the difference.  

Here are my adjustments with notes provided with each ingredient as needed.

Dark Chocolate Perfect Altitude Cake

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour PLUS 2 tbsp
    Note: Don’t measure the flour exactly.  The goal is to measure out more than needed.  Spoon the flour out into the cup and instead of scrapping off the excess flour that piles on top of the measuring cup, just pour it in.  Then, add two tbsp more of flour.  This gives the mixture more structure.  
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    Note: When you are baking at high altitude, leavening products become a huge challenge.  The idea is for each tsp of leavening called for reduce to a 1/4 tsp.  So, 2 tsp was the original amount so we reduce it to 1/2 tsp.
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    Note: Again, more leavening.  Since there was so much, I cut this in half from the original amount which was 1/2 tsp.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
    Note: Usually you would cream the butter and sugar together.  Instead, you are going to melt the butter and mix the sugar with it.  I’ll explain that later.    
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar MINUS 1-2 tbsp
    Note: Baking at high altitude, sugar also affects the outcome of a product.  It’s necessary to take out a certain quantity of sugar.  I left out about 1-2 tbsp of sugar.  
  • 5-6 eggs
    Note:  The original recipe called for 4 eggs.  You will want to add more, this also contributes to the amount of liquid in the mixture and the out-coming structure.  The eggs we get in Peru are various in size, some are extremely small, so I used 6 eggs in my mixture.  If you have all pretty well sized eggs just use 5.     
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
How It’s Done
Note:
explanations and more in-depth directions are all in italics.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  When baking at higher altitude, it’s necessary to increase the temperature of the oven.  It’s usually the basic rule of thumb to increase the temperature by 25 degrees.  You need the liquid in the batter to evaporate quicker so the overall structure will set before it can rise too much and then break and fall.  

Grease 3 – 9 inch round cake pans or one 9×13″ pan.  In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool.
In another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Basic note for baking at high altitude.  Mixing and beating the batter by hand will give you more control over how much air is incorporated into the mixture.  I will explain as we go along why the amount of air in a batter is so important.  

All seems nice and normal until this point.  Here I did something that I thought was going to ruin my cake.  I melted my butter over low heat on the stove and added the sugar to this, whisking until well incorporated.  Now, the first reason I did this was because the Handicap Kitchen mixer caught on fire and is out of commission.
 The second reason is my theory for why this is necessary.  When you cream your sugar and butter together you are essentially creating pockets of air in your fatty product (butter).  Butter is not the only thing that does this in a cake batter, eggs also do this.  But, while a cake is baking at high altitude it’s important to not have TOO many air bubbles.  The leavening products react with the air pockets and cause them to grow.  This is their job!  But, at high altitudes this process happens a lot quicker and if there are a lot of air pockets and a lot of leavening product in your cake batter it will break and fall.  You will cry.  So, the challenge is to beat air into the batter in moderation with a reduction of leavening.  Make sense?  So, by melting the butter, I basically removed one more constituent of the danger of getting too many air pockets.  

Once you’ve mixed your sugar and butter together beat in the eggs.  It’s important to not beat the eggs in all at once.  However, you do want to be careful of beating the mixture too much.  I beat in two eggs at a time twice and then the rest of the times one egg at a time.  Does that make sense?  If you beat the eggs too much you will have to problem of too many air pockets.  You need to beat in the eggs just until they are mixed into the batter.  This should be approximately beating ten times for each (or pair) of eggs.  

Then stir in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture.  It’s important at this point that you stir instead of beat.  If you beat you may add too many air pockets.  Work carefully, folding the flour into the batter and mixing in the cocoa mixture.  

Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans or into the 9×13″ pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.  I find that at high altitudes it takes a bit longer to bake cakes all the way through.  You may need more like 30-45 minutes.  

Please, if you have any questions, leave a comment and ask, or send an email to thehandicappedkitchen at gmail dot com.

Have you ever baked at high altitude?  What were your experiences?
Also, find me on Facebook and like the page to get updates about what I’m making and when!  Find me here.