monkey bread in a dutch oven
i’ve got a confession that will either make me seem really cool or really lame: i’m an eagle scout. i spent most of my teenage years camping and tying knots with my fellow boy scouts, learning the skills i would need to survive in the wilderness. and although i’ve never actually been lost in the wilderness (yet), i still use a lot of what i learned in the scouts every day. one of the coolest things about camping is figuring out how to cook gourmet meals with greatly reduced means. no oven, microwave, mixer, toaster, or *gasp* panini press.
the dutch oven quickly becomes one of your best friends when camping, despite it’s weight. a dutch oven is basically a giant cast iron pot with a lid. it’s traditionally placed right on hot coals (hot coals are placed on top as well) to fire up whatever amazing concoction you’ve put inside. there are literally thousands of sites dedicated to dutch oven cooking featuring recipes for anything from pizza to gumbo to cobbler. i was lucky enough to get a dutch oven for my birthday last year from the girl (ain’t she great?) but the only thing i had used it for up until now was slow cooking apple and pumpkin butter. luckily, it also works flawlessly in the oven.
when we camped, the dutch oven monkey bread was made with ready-made biscuits that were torn up into smaller pieces and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. this recipe actually uses a sweet yeast dough that you let rise, but instead of baking it in a tube pan, i doubled the recipe and used my dutch oven so it would be brimming with gooey cinnamon sugar goodness.
why is it called monkey bread? no one seems to know the real answer, but i’ve always assumed it had something to do with the bread being easy to pull apart and eat by little hands – for instance the hands of monkeys or small children. whatever the origin of it’s name, monkey bread has a few rules: it can and should be eaten with every meal, and it will disappear a lot faster than you think. maybe you should think about tripling or quadrupling that next batch.
you can make this in a tube pan if you don’t have a dutch oven on hand. note that in the photos, i’ve doubled the recipe. the recipe below, however, is for one batch.
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, divided
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup scalded milk
5 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
5 tsp cinnamon
1. dissolve the yeast with 1 tsp of sugar in the warm water. in a separate bowl, combine one stick of butter with rest of the 1/2 cup sugar. pour hot milk over the butter and sugar mixture to melt butter. let cool.
2. add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and then add half the flour. beat in the eggs and mix thoroughly. add the remaining dough to make a soft dough.
3. turn dough onto a floureed surface and knead well. place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled. punch down. in a small bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
4. melt remaining butter. pull 1 inch balls of the dough and dip into the butter. roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until covered. arrange the balls in the pan or dutch oven. allow them to rise again for about half and hour. bake at 375 F for 45 mintues or until golden brown. if you decide to use a dutch oven and double the recipe, you’ll need to bake with the lid on and extend the baking time about another half hour. take the lid off for the last 15 mintues to allow to top to rise and brown.