This post has a very special place in my heart. When I was a little girl, our family situation wasn’t the best; food was always provided even if it wasn’t ideal, and my dad wasn’t an easy man to live with. The good thing about memories is that, though there are plenty of bad ones to be had, there are always good ones… special ones.
It’s been established that dad didn’t do very well with some of his cooking, and I say that in the most endearing sense. Not all of his food was bad. He was really great at making an American breakfast (Pancakes, bacon and/or sausage, and eggs), he could also make a mean campfire chili or beef stew, and he made what our family calls Slumgolean Hash (which I can do a recipe for at another time.) But this blog post is not about any of those things.
This is about a beautiful memory that takes me back to one of the happier times we shared with dad. He made monkey bread from scratch and put a lot of love into it. It was like eating a cloud that was laced with just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon, the right amount of sticky glaze that was too yummy to use a napkin on. My dad made the best monkey bread I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.
I remember how proud he was of the bread and how he laughed with his joy at how his children were delighted in this pastry. It was something we gathered around just one time that I can remember, but it did define part of my childhood with a good and beautiful memory.
I have had other monkey bread throughout the years; GOOD monkey bread, at that, but nothing that has ever taken me back to that memory. It took hearing the sound of my niece, Al’s daughter, to call out, “Monkey bread” to spark that memory full on, though Al is the one who made it.
As soon as the idea popped into my head, I opened up my cook books and began to look for the perfect base recipe to work off of. I needed an idea on what ingredients were involved and how much to put in. It happened to be in my Better Homes and Gardens cook book (if you do not have that one, you should get one as it is a legacy). It wasn’t even a monkey bread recipe, but rather, a cinnamon roll recipe.
My brain went into excitement mode for the things I could take out and replace, or add to it to make it better. I want to be taken back to that first bite, to hearing my father laugh the way he used to, because it was to him who I owe my cooking passion.
Fair warning, this is a time consuming recipe but totally worth the effort. This is also not diet food, though you can use sweeteners to lower the amount of sugar you use. Just follow the conversions as needed, usually the sweetener bags will have them. They are also widely available on the web.
Variation #1 with an adult twist
Variation #2, Blood Orange Cranberry
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon or so Blood Orange zest
1 teaspoon fresh (grated with micro plane) or ground ginger
¼ cup softened, unsalted butter
½ cup blood orange juice soaked dried cranberries
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
A dash of ground ginger
1-2 Tablespoons Blood Orange Juice
(You can use any orange if you are not fond of blood oranges)
Serving this bread warm is the best way to eat it, and you don’t need a knife and fork to do so. You can pick at the nuggets like a monkey would pick.
I chose to make the adultified version, and just so you know? The rum icing is A-Okay! I don’t think I added enough salt to the dough itself, but that is my error, not the recipe. It was still fluffy but dense like raisin bread, as opposed to your traditional cinnamon bun.
I adore monkey bread and the memories it brings. Share this bread with your children (or at least the rumless variety) and watch their faces light up with joy. Maybe you could even have your little ones help you out with making the bread so you can create memories of your own. If you don’t have kids, you can still make it and have fun in the process. The point is, you should do it because you want to and to experience the joy that it can bring.
For me, I will forever cherish the stolen moments that are branded into my memory that can come flying back into my head at the sound of its name, or the flavor of the dish. I hope that I do justice to one of my dad’s very favorite things to make! And with that I say...
The Eccentric Foodie
Cooking bacon in the oven is the easiest way.
These are various recipes that either I created, or I found and adjusted to what I thought would be awesome or even healthier.