Weekend breakfasts call for something a little more interesting than cereal and milk, especially when the weekend morning is as gorgeously beautiful as ours have been here in Connecticut recently. There is definitely the feeling of Fall in the air, but the sunny skies still say Summer. Sitting on the back deck reading the Sunday paper and drinking several cups of tea is a real treat, and a lovely respite from the hustle, bustle and chaos that mark the beginning of the school year. Usually our weekend breakfasts involve eggs and English muffins, but this weekend was different.
This was the weekend we closed up our pool for the season. It is a thankless job: all work, no payoff. In addition, it is sad because it marks the end of another summer, the last stint of freedom for a while. Sometimes it goes easily, sometimes we run into difficulty, like the year we were lulled into keeping the pool open by long, warm September days. As soon as October hit, it was instantly cold and rainy, and we closed the pool wearing slickers in the rain one miserable Sunday. But this year, we closed it over a weekend that we could have spent swimming, it was so warm, and it went off without a hitch, except for the ground wasp nest that was "found" by Anna's friend Brynn while she was helping us with the job. And everyone helped, with no complaints or eye rolling, which, with a teenage and a preteen girl in the house, is no small gift. So this weekend deserved a special breakfast. I have been wanting to find a good recipe for Monkey Bread for some time now, and finally decided to use an old standby dough for cinnamon rolls that I have used for years. Everybody loved it here; I hope you try it and enjoy as well!
For the dough:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To coat the monkey bread pieces:
6 tbsp butter, melted
4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Put half of the flour and all of the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Heat the milk and butter slowly in the microwave, until just warm and the butter is almost melted. Stir until it is melted completely (mixture should be about 120 degrees). Add to flour mixture, then add eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat on low speed until mixed, then scrape sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the rest of the flour, put on the dough hook, and knead for 6 - 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, and place in a greased bowl in a warm spot, covered with plastic wrap.
When the dough has almost doubled in size, punch it down. Spray a bundt cake pan with cooking spray. Mix the cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, salt and pecans together in a bowl, and prepare the melted butter in a separate bowl. Cut quarter-sized pieces of dough (I made my pieces too large), roll the small pieces in a ball, and then coat in melted butter. Place immediately in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and coat generously. Place the coated pieces in the bundt pan, spreading evenly. Repeat until all the dough has been used up. If there is melted butter or cinnamon/sugar left, spread them evenly over the top of the cake (why not?). Place the pan in a warm spot, and let rise for about an hour. Alternately, you can put the cake pan in the refrigerator overnight, and remove in the morning, waiting for the dough to come to room temperature and to rise before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. Turn pan over and serve with powdered sugar on top. To serve, just pull the pieces apart. My daughters have requested that the next time I make this, I make Monkey Bread Muffins.....a great idea, I think!