With only four sleeps till Christmas, it’s quite likely your holiday traditions are looking a little different this year. We’re not all gathering at grandma’s house or having a gaggle of cousins over for a raucous Christmas morning. And if you’re like me, this means we can’t rely on our family members to deliver the traditional Christmas morning treats. Thankfully, I was recently introduced to Ali Stafford and her new cookbook, Bread, Toast, Crumbs. You might know Ali from her blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen – she’s got a list of 25 Christmas Cookies I’m currently drooling over.
But for now I’m focused on creating a special memory for Christmas morning – preferably one that doesn’t take days of advanced preparation or a mountain of baking skills as I do not have them.
Thankfully, that is what Ali is best known for – creating recipes real people can actually replicate! I immediately honed in on her Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread. My son loves all things cinnamon so I know this recipe be a winner, but it is a little less of a sugar bomb than cinnamon rolls, which I appreciate. I’ll have enough mega-five-year-old energy as it is. No additional assistance is necessary.
While so many of our traditions are flipped on their heads, I’m actually excited to take the opportunity to create new memories that could turn into new traditions for years to come.
RECIPE: Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread (serves 4)
The key to making monkey bread, sweet or savory, is to handle the dough as minimally as possible. Don’t get hung up on forming perfect balls- irregularity is part of the charm of this communal breakfast or dessert. As the portions of the dough rise, their imperfections dissolve into a cobble of cinnamon-sugar encrusted puffs. The glaze is optional, though a drizzle just before the mass is pulled to pieces makes for a pretty presentation.
2 cups (255 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus ¼ cup (32 g) for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon plus ¼ cup (55 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, salt, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375F. Grease an 8-or 9-inch cast-iron skillet or circular or square baking pan with the softened butter. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the mixture over the bottom of the prepared skillet.
Spread ¼ cup flour over a clean surface. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. Use the forks to lift the dough onto the prepared clean surface. Using as much flour as necessary from the surface, dust your hands and the exterior of the dough, then shape the mass as best you can into the ball. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the mass into twelve to fourteen equal-size pieces, each 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
Using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking, shape each piece into a rough ball and immediately transfer them into the greased pan, evenly spaced. Let rise for 20 to 25 minutes. The balls may not rise to fill the skillet entirely, but they will puff when they bake.
Brush each ball with some melted butter, then pour over the remainder. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until it reaches a pourable consistency, adding more milk as needed. Remove the monkey bread from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes in the pan before inverting the pan onto a plate, then invert it again onto a serving platter. Drizzle with glaze. Serve immediately.
For more of my favorite holiday recipes CLICK HERE.
Monkey Bread Photo Credit: Reprinted from Bread Toast Crumbs. Copyright © 2017 by Alexandra Stafford. Photographs by Eva Kolenko. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.