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Monday, 15 February 2016

Baking American Monkey Bread with a Sourdough Starter (alternatives given)

When I came across this recipe in one of my recipe books, I immediately knew I would have to try it. What can be better than a slightly sweet bread filled with nuts and raisins? It simply looked and sounded too delicious not to bake it at least once. But, having a growing sourdough starter in the house, it was a no-brainer that I would have to adapt the recipe to use this. I'll share the alternative options for other raising agents with you as always.

The recipe is taken from this book.

Here is a photo of the page in the book where I found the recipe.

As always, I stray from the original recipe, opting to use a mixture of White and Brown Bread Flour. This is my personal taste dictating here. You may want to use the original recipe's White Bread Flour only. I used 1 cup White Bread Flour and 3 cups Brown Bread Flour. A cup is 250 ml.

I added to this 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) salt and a tablespoon (12,5 ml) sugar. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

I then added a half cup (125 ml) each of lukewarm water and milk.
Option 1: Mix a packet Instant Dry Yeast to the dry ingredients and mix it all together.
Option 2: Dissolve the sugar in the water and add a packet Active Dry Yeast. Let it sit for 15 minutes and add with the rest of the wet ingredients.

I also added 2 cups of my sourdough starter.

Lastly, I added one egg. Everything was then mixed together.

It gave me a rather wet dough when mixed.

Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm dry place.

Once the dough has risen, boil half a cup of raisins (125 ml) in 50 ml brandy/rum.

Measure off 1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped walnuts. I did not have any walnuts in the house and decided to use 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts. I also decided not to chop them up, as we all love nuts and I like biting into a big bite of nut.

Mix 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cinnamon and 3/4 cup (180 ml) light brown sugar.

Melt 1/2 cup of butter.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour.

I just love how well the sourdough starter is working at this stage. I have long since abandoned discarding half the mixture. Instead, I bake frequently keeping the plant reduced to a manageable amount. I feed it once a week with a cup flour and a cup lukewarm water.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. I had to add some flour to my dough to make it possible to knead it.

Roll the dough into small balls.

Dip the balls in the butter.

Put the balls in your baking tin. I use this dish as I know the results I get from it, but normally the bread is baked in a bundt cake tin (round with a hole in the center).

Pour the leftover butter over the dough balls.

Sprinkle the nut mixture over it.

Sprinkle the raisin mixture over.

Cover and allow the dough to rise.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 190°C.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.

The original recipe tells you to turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool. I am going to leave mine in the dish to sweat a little.

I am also going to put the lid on. The steam from the bread will circulate inside the dish, turning the hard crust soft. This is a personal taste. You may prefer the hard crust. (If you do turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool, you can always dampen a cloth and lay it over the warm bread to soften the crust as well.

My bread was intended for a party an hour after it came out of the oven. I found it was simplest to use a spoon to dish the bread balls up with. If I had turned it out, it would have been a brilliant tear and share loaf, requiring no cutting at all.

Since there was a lot of butter in the baking process, the bread was served without spreads. I did not think it needed anything, but when one of the guests asked for it, I was happy to share some fresh butter with them.

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