I've been on a bread baking kick for a couple of weeks. The girls love the sandwich bread recipe from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook (my kitchen bible) so much that they eat the crust. It is cheaper, and more fun, to bake our own, so we've been making lots of bread.
This particular cookbook has lots of pictorial explanation, and the very next recipe after the sandwich bread looked so tempting! Monkey bread is a variation on the sandwich bread dough that elevates it to dessert heights: seven tablespoons of butter, almost two cups of sugar, lots of cinnamon, and nuts. (We didn't use nuts because we were going to share this with lots of kids. But I do want to try this with pecans.)
"Where's the chocolate?" they asked.
"You are going to like it even though there isn't any chocolate. Trust me."
We had a great time measuring out the ingredients and talking about yeast. TJ will tell you that the yeast burps, and that it needs sugar to eat and something to keep it warm. She knows that the burps make bubbles in the dough, and that the bubbles make the bread rise.
The next step is the most fun: divide the dough into thirty-six pieces and roll them into balls. I foresee lots of lessons in multiplication and fractions as we make this recipe in the future. Then dip the balls in butter, roll them in cinnamon sugar, and then fill up a bundt cake pan with these goodies.
This recipe is awesome. It even makes its own sauce! "Drizzle the leftover butter and sugar mixture over the dough balls." We turned the bread out after baking and caramel dripped out of the pan.
I thought it would be nice to get a picture of this fabulous thing when we got to park day. I showed up carrying my platter with still warm bread, and suddenly all the kids who had been on the play equipment were in the shelter around the picnic table where I had placed the bread. I turned around to get my camera out of my bag, turned back ... and it was like locusts had descended. The whole thing was almost gone!
Which is fabulous. We had a blast making the bread, and I can't ask for a better end to one of our kitchen creations.