Photo by Bake or Break
A few weeks ago I visited The Baker’s Store at King Arthur’s Flour, and you asked me to “think of a recipe you like, then get me what I need to make it.” A tall order, for sure. I roamed the aisles thinking, “Bread baking? Cookies? Pie? Brioche? Pizza? Crackers? Scones?” I considered almond flour, I pondered pizza crust flavoring and I examined the Great Wall of Chocolate while sipping an excellent cup of their Dancing Goat coffee.
And then I thought of the perfect Maria recipe: sweet, delicious, chocolatey and great for brunch, our mutual favorite meal—Chocolate-Filled Monkey Bread. In this recipe, individual chocolate-filled balls of sweet yeast dough are layered, rising into one magnificent loaf, a perfect centerpiece for any brunch. (Like the one we are both invited to later this month, hint, hint.) I tried this recipe at Christmas, made by my in laws, and it was delicious. They also gave me the cookbook, and Henry, Will and I enjoyed making it almost as much as eating it. You are going to love it.
Happy baking (and come visit SOON to collect your ingredients),
Lora Brody’s Chocolate-Filled Monkey Bread
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons dough relaxer, optional (from King Arthur’s)
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 sticks butter at room temp
For the sake of brevity, I am going to share the stand-mixing technique, because that is what I use. Let me know if you are desperate for the hand-mixing method, the bread-machine method or the food-processor method.
Place the flour, sugar, dough relaxer (if using), yeast, salt, eggs, 2/3 cup (6 ounces) of warm water and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted witht he dough hook. Kneed on low speed until a ball stars to form, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 5-7 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to form a soft, supple ball of dough. Turn off the mixer, remove the dough hook, leave the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and as long as 24 hours.
Unsalted butter for the pan
25-30 pieces (1/2 ounce or so) of dark chocolate
1 stick unslated butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup sugar
(Can also use dried fruit with chocolate–cherries and apricots are particularly good)
Coat a 10 x5 x3-inch loaf pan (or a similar 8-cup capacity pan, like an angel food cake pan) with butter. Gently deflate the risen, refrigerated dough without kneading it—this will keep it relaxed and easy to roll. Place it on a slightly-floured work surface, and roll it into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or other similar circles to cute 25-30 circles out of the dough, re-rolling and cutting any scraps. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of each circle, paint the edges of the dough with a little water, then gently stretch and mold the dough around the chocolate (or chocolate and dried fruit) to enclose it. (I actually skipped the water and it worked fine.) Pinch the edges together to form a neat package and (It helps to have an assistant here, I recommend your godson Henry for this task) dip each ball into the melted butter, roll it in the sugar and place it seam-side down in the bottom of the pan. Make two rows, then a second layer of two rows resting on the spaces between the bottom pieces. Place any leftover balls of dough on top to make a third layer. Drizzle any remaining butter over the top, and sprinkle with any remaining sugar. Let the loaf rise, uncovered, at room temp for 30-40 minutes, or until almost doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven until 375F, with the rack in the center position. Bake for 60 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 200 F. It is essential to bake this break long enough for the insides to be cooked thoroughly, so if the top starts getting too dark before it is cooked, tent pan loosely with foil. (I could not have made this bread without an instant-read thermometer, because it will loose done on the outside long before it is done on the inside.)
Remove pan from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a rack before unmolding. Serve warm–best enjoyed the day it is baked, but reheats nicely wrapped in a clean towel in the microwave for just a few seconds. See you at brunch!
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Last week’s I promised two lucky commenters a copy of a fantastic community cookbook, Galley Watch: Twenty Years of Cooking with Williams-Mystic. Not only did I have the pleasure of editing this massive collection of goodness, I was a bona fide member of the community, so was able to add some of my family favorites to the brew, immortalizing my mom’s pound cake recipe, my sister’s stir fry, my aunt’s penchant for chocolate and my Scottish grandmother’s shortbread recipe. Yum.
Since I had a few rogue commenters in the group who didn’t want to be part of the draw (they already own it), I did the draw without the help of my friend random.org, and instead used my old friend, paper bag. And since this cookbook is so darn good, I decided to pick THREE of you. No thanks necessary, just invite me over for dinner. 🙂