A batch of monkey bread will not sit for long on your counter. The delicious, sweet pull-apart bread--an American favorite since at least the 1950s--has become a staple dessert at our Abattoir restaurant in Atlanta. Pulling off pieces of the sticky caramelized bread and eating them with your fingers is appealing to young and old alike. We use bread flour because the gluten level is higher and results in a chewier and slightly denser monkey bread. All-purpose flour will work as well, but will yield a slightly lighter texture.
For the coating:
To make the bread:
In a small saucepan, warm 1/2 cup of the milk over low heat until just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat, stir in the yeast, and let sit for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the milk-yeast mixture, the remaining 2 cups milk, and the eggs until just incorporated.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, then add to the ingredients in the mixer. Mix on low speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until everything comes together.
Add the butter, one piece at a time, continuing to mix on low speed and occasionally stopping to scrape the bowl to ensure that everything is incorporated. Mix until the dough will pull a "window"--when you can stretch a little piece of dough with your hands and see through a thin layer instead of the dough breaking or tearing.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 45 minutes to allow the yeast to develop. Then refrigerate for 1 hour if you can spare the time. (Refrigerating the dough makes it easier to shape the bread as the dough is quite sticky, but it is not imperative.)
To help remove the bread easily once it has baked, line the bottom and sides of an 8- to 9-inch angel food cake pan with parchment paper, generously coating both sides of the paper with nonstick baking spray. (To line the bottom of the pan, trace the bottom on a sheet of parchment paper and cut a ring to fit in the bottom of the tube pan.)
To make the coating:
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Let cool slightly.
Shape the dough into 1-ounce balls--about the size of golf balls--and dip each in the melted butter. Then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place in the prepared pan. Continue layering the balls randomly into the pan until all the dough has been used; the pan should be about halfway full. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough sit in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Let the pan cool for 10 minutes and then turn it upside down onto a plate and remove the bread from the pan. Serve immediately.
Anne Quatrano is one of the most accomplished chefs in the United States. Named Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation and Best New Chef by Food & Wine, she has been featured in The New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun and Bon Appetit. Along with her husband, she operates four popular Atlanta restaurants. Summerland is her first cookbook.
Publisher: Rizzoli New York
Penned: October 2013
What's Inside: More than 100 of celebrated chef Anne Quatrano's best recipes and entertaining ideas. Beginning with September, you'll find menus, recipes and tips for every month. For January, she plans a fireside brunch complete with Red-Eyed Cocktail, Hoppin' John and Browned Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy. In April, there's an Easter supper including Slow-Roasted Porchetta, Thyme Onion Rolls. and Fresh Pea and Fennel Salad.
Peppered throughout are stories of Summerland, the farm that's been in Anne's family for five generations and supplies much of the produce for her restaurants. Summerland serves as the setting for many of the gorgeous color photos in this idea-packed guide which pays attention to food as well as presentation.
Time Out: 254 pages
Available: $39.95 at Amazon and other retailers
Craving something sweet? You'll also enjoy: