I’d never heard of monkey bread before I moved to America, in the UK we just call it ‘tear and share’ bread and it tends to be savoury rather than sweet. I’m none the wiser as to why it is called monkey bread but to be honest my mouth has been too full of it to bother to say its name anyway! It’s gloriously soft, sticky and sweet with just enough of a hint of spice.
This is another recipe inspired by our time in Vermont, which produces some delicious Maple syrup, wonderful, dark amber, full flavoured stuff. Obviously I wasn’t going to leave without getting some to take home. One of my favourite things about Vermont was that you couldn’t travel more than a few miles without stumbling across a farm stand straining under the weight of lovely local produce. Vermont is all about eating locally and they’re quite right too!
300g bread flour
1 sachet of yeast (7g)
pint of salt
1 tbsp sugar
30g butter (melted)
2 tbsp butter (melted)
3 tbsp real maple syrup
90g soft brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp chai spice blend
pinch of salt
handful of chopped pecans (optional)
Stir together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. In a separate jug, warm the milk and water a little, just above lukewarm is ideal. Whisk in the melted butter and the egg. Gradually add this to the dry mixture, bringing it all together to form a soft dough. If it seems a little too dry add a couple of extra tablespoons of water.
Knead the dough for a few minutes to stretch out the gluten. It should become soft, springy and stretchy. Wash the mixing bowl in hot water and lightly grease it. Oil a piece of clingfilm too. Pop the dough in the warm bowl, cover it with the cling film and place it somewhere draught-free to double in size.
To prepare the coating you will need two small bowls. Combine the melted butter and maple syrup in one and the sugar, spices and salt in the other.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and gently knead it for a few minutes. Divide this into about 32 even(ish) pieces and roll each one into a small ball. One at a time drop each ball into the butter/syrup mixture and then roll it lightly in the sugar. Put the coated balls of dough into a lightly greased tin (it can be any shape you like but it’s best if it’s quite deep) Keep layering up the coated balls, it doesn’t matter if the last layer isn’t completely coated.
Recover the tin with the clingfilm and leave it to puff up again whilst the oven pre-heats to 170°c .
Once the dough has swelled to more or less fill the tin you can pop it in the oven for around 30 minutes. Once it’s baked and become golden you’ll need to take it out the tin almost immediately, so that the sticky coating is still warm. Leave it to cool a little on a wire rack, but obviously this is at its best when served warm.