Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pinch Me Bread

One of my favorite homemade breads is Pinch Me Bread. Many of you may know it as Monkey Bread, although I hadn't heard of that name until I was an adult! In my mind, Monkey Bread is stickier than the Pinch Me Bread I grew up with. And for me, when cinnamon is involved, I don't need the extra calories and sugar of the caramel on it, cinnamon is enough! You can imagine my dismay when I went to make this yummy bread today with my daughter and couldn't find my recipe. So, I had to turn to google and was dismayed to find that almost all of the recipes include using frozen bread dough. Fortunately, I did find this one, from Not Quite Nigella, that is different than I remembered but similar enough, and most importantly, from scratch! Here's my version of the recipe:
For dough:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees
  • 1/8 cup Sun Crystals
  • 1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface (in order to make this a clean food, I used a bevy of organic flours to give it as much nutritional value as possible. I used 1 c whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 c each of whole wheat, barley, oat flours and 1/4 c raw wheat germ)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
1. Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200F. When oven reaches temperature, turn it off.
2. Make dough: In small bowl, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball.
3. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking sprayl. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
4. Make brown sugar coating. Mix together first 3 ingredients in a bowl, I'll let the proportions up to you, but I went heavy on the cinnamon and lighter on the sugars. Also place olive oil in its own bowl.
Brown Sugar Coating:
  • light brown sugar
  • Sun Crystals
  • lots of ground cinnamon
  • olive oil
5. Once the dough risen, remove from bowl and shape into a large 8 inch square. Cut into 64 pieces using a dough scraper or knife. Or, you can be more free and just cut off a small amount at a time (I use a soft pretzel dough cutter that I got in an Auntie Ann's mix a few years ago) and roll into a ball. Really, in my mind, the balls do not have to be uniformly shaped, but if you are anal like that, go ahead and make them uniform :)
6.  With a fork, roll each dough ball in the olive oil and drain well. Roll in the sugar and cinnamon mix and then place in the bundt or angel food cake pan (spray with cooking oil first). You can use a conventional pan as well. Stack each ball in the pan so that they fill in the gaps of the previous layer. Place in the warmed oven (you may need to reheat a little depending on how long it has taken you to make the balls) for 50-60 minutes until they expand a bit (I could only wait about 30 :). Remove from the oven.
7. Preheat oven to 350F and bake the bread for 30-35 minutes. Cool only for 5 minutes (not longer or it will get stuck) and turn out onto a serving platter. Tastes best fresh but still delicious once cooled, or you can reheat in microwave.

*A few notes. This recipe did not make as much, nor rise as much as my regular recipe. Taste is still delicious, though!

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