Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

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The moment you slowly remove the bundt pan from this bread. Its like watching a child open a birthday present, in small motion and to find that it was exactly what they had hoped and wished for.

This was my experience unravelling the monkey bread. I had searched high and low for the recipe that reflected the image in my head of how this was all going to turn out, but nothing met my credentials. So I took a few ideas from here and there and put together a recipe which tastes so good! I wish you could hear me say this out loud…it is unbelievably good, the whole process of making this bread really therapeutic, I don’t know why. The process and ingredients are very similar to that of Brioche, so I felt a lot more confident putting it together. Not all monkey breads require eggs, but I wanted to the rich texture of the brioche in this one and it paid off so well.

A couple of tips: be generous with the caramel. If you find you need to make more, do so. Secondly don’t fill the bundt pan to the brim with these dough balls. Remember the dough still have to prove after you have formed it in the pan, I found during that time the mixture expanded so much that when it reached the oven, some of the balls dropped off like cinnamon golf balls! Pleasant to my quick fingers…not so good a look when your bread has holes in it!

This bread is made for sharing and makes sharing fun. I’ll let you know how my colleagues at work get on with this one tomorrow!

 

Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

  • Servings: as many as you like!
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Dough

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (room temperature)

1-1/4 cups warm 2% milk (room temperature)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups Canadian Strong Bread Flour

 

For the Caramel

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp almond essence

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

 

For the Dough Balls

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Method

The night before

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat on the medium speed (with a dough hook) for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.IMG_7401

Keep ‘kneading’ in the food mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Or turn the mixture on to a floured surface and knead by hand for the same amount of time.

Place in a greased bowl or container. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

 

The next day

The next day, take the dough of the fridge and leave it for 1 hour to get to room temperature.

For the caramel, in a saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and cream to a boil. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Pour half into the bundt pan; sprinkle with half of the pecans.
Punch the dough down and cut it into long strips, then cut it again into 2″ squares.  Shape each square into 40 -50 balls

Then take two bowls: in one combine white sugar and cinnamon in another melted butter. Dip the dough balls in butter, then roll in sugar mixture.

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Place balls in the pan one by one; top with remaining caramel and pecans, only fill to 3/4 of the pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 10 minutes before turning it into a serving plate. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Scones

IMG_6458I was hunting around as I usually do, looking for something different to do with Blueberries. I normally throw them into smoothies, and I remember once making a blueberry drink for a friend’s dinner. And now come to think of it I also made a blueberry sauce to go with some quick pancakes when my Uncle came down to spend some time with us (you know those pancakes you make and they turn out so nice…but you can’t remember how you did it? It was one of those days).  Ok so I’ve kind of lost the argument: I have done a few things with Blueberries, but I have to say these scones excite me the most. Not only are they really quick and simple to make but extremely tasty!  To speed up the process, this can be made in a food mixer.

Blueberry Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 stick cold unsalted butter, grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra heavy cream for brushing the tops
raw sugar for sprinkling the tops
Method

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl  mix 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, orange zest, and salt. Then add the cold butter and mix well. In another bowl, combine the egg, vanilla and heavy cream and whisk well.  Slowly pour cream into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until you see no more lumps.  Now add the blueberries to the dough, together. You might want to use your hands it this point to avoid the berries bursting prematurely.

Spoon out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball.  Then with a rolling pin roll the dough about 3/4-inch thick into a circle shape.

Cut the dough into quarters then cut again into eighths, diagonally, making triangles.

Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch.

Adapted from recipe by La Petite Brioche

Quick Black Grape Jelly

 

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So simple and sweet.Serve with homemade Brioche. The same recipe can be used for Blueberries, Strawberries or Blackberries. The options are endless!

Black Grape Jelly

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: easy
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1kg black grapes, preferable with seeds (stripped from the stalks)
350g jam sugar (with added pectin)
juice 1/2 lemon

Utensils: wooden spoon, a sieve and sterilised jam jar.

Place the grapes into a large saucepan over a low heat, then cover and leave to cook for 5 mins or until the grapes start to disintegrate. Take a potato masher or fork and mash-up the grapes to extract more of the juice.

Leave to cook for about 10 mins more, mashing every now and again until the grapes are falling apart.IMG_7059

Take a sieve over a bowl and pour the grapes into the sieve, help extract the pulp from the skin by gently pushing the grapes through the sieve, you should be left with a thick liquid in the bowl (about 2-300ml).

Then pour it into a pan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Set the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Let the mixture bubble for 5-6 mins.

To test it to see if it’s ready, place  a small plate in the freezer for 5 mins, take it out and then pour a little of the juice onto the cold plate.

After 1 min, run your finger through; if the jam wrinkles slightly, it’s ready. Pour the hot jam into a sterilised jar. Will keep unopened for up to 3 months.