Sweet Orange Monkey Bread (Makes one bundt pan)
1 cup half & half or milk
4 TBSP sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 cups all purpose flour, sifted after measuring
1 Egg, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups sugar
Rind from 2 oranges
With a TBSP of butter, grease the bundt pan well. Set aside. Scald the half & half (or milk), by bringing it to a boil (or near boil) and removing it from the heat.
When the mixture has partly cooled, no hotter than 120° F, and no cooler than 115° F, stir in the sugar and salt. Then sprinkle in the yeast on the warm cream. Allow the yeast 5 minutes or so to start bubbling – called, “proofing” the yeast.
While the cream is cooling, melt ½ cup butter in the microwave, then set aside. Also, measure, and then sift 4 cups of all purpose flour. Beat the egg as well.
When the cream has cooled to 100° F or below, pour it into a mixing bowl. Add the beaten egg and the 1/2 cup of melted butter. Add the sifted flour in stages, no more than one cup at a time, stirring to incorporate at each addition. You will have a very soft dough when all of the flour is added.
Turn the dough into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow the bread to rise until doubled in volume.
Zest the rind from two oranges and mix with 2 cups of sugar, set aside.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a well floured board and, and stretch or roll into a disc or rectangle about 1/2 thick. If you roll, (a) roll gently so as not to knock out too much air; and (b) don’t forget to flour your pin so it doesn’t stick.
Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 2" x 2" squares or diamonds. Melt the remaining ½ cup butter in a bowl large enough to dip the dough pieces. Set the bowl next to the greased bundt pan.
If some of your pieces are smaller than others, start with the smallest pieces. Dip them one by one in butter, then roll in the orange/sugar mixture and arrange evenly on the bottom of the pan. Then, dip the larger pieces, one by one, in butter, then in the orange/sugar mixture and arrange them in even layers, until all the dough is used. If there is any butter left over, pour it as evenly as possible over the dough. Cover the pan tightly with cling wrap.
Allow the dough to rise, until it reaches the wrap – about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, set a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400° F.
Set the pan on the rack, and bake 25 to 30 minutes until the top of the bread is one shade darker than golden brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about ten minutes, and turn out onto a plate. Serve warm.
This dish is heavenly, just heavenly. Thanks to Boar D. Laze, the author of the forthcoming book, COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique beginners and Intermediates for the bread recipe. Boar D. Laze is an incredible cook and I’m greatly anticipating his cookbook as it focuses on truly understanding how to cook, not just how to follow a recipe. His recipes are incredible and this bread recipe will not disappoint. Boar D. Laze recommends making this as a Savory Monkey Bread (omit my addition of 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the orange rind) and serving it with barbecue. A perfect dish for dinner parties.
For those wanting to cook more from scratch and understand the how’s and why’s of the kitchen- watch for his book at bookstores. It will be a great asset for all home cooks.