baked sunday mornings: monkey bubble bread

bakers note:  please remember that the baked sunday mornings entries don’t include the recipe.  Please click on the link (below) and you’ll be able to find this recipe on the official website.  Gracias!

This has probably been the most … insane baking experience I’ve had to date.

I made this bread 3 times in 4 days.  Seriously.  It is amazing.  Even before it bakes the smell of cinnamon sugar makes your mouth water … and then while it’s baking the smell that emanates from your oven just makes you want to drool.  Oh yeah … and then you actually get to eat it.  It’s best eaten warm.  Right out of the oven.  But I can attest to the fact that it is still FAN-TASTIC at room temperature. 

Everyone … welcome to recipe 3 of baked sunday mornings.  May I present to you Monkey Bread.  The baking god’s gift to instant yeast and dough.  I do not lie.  Sigh.

So three times in almost as many days.  You must be wondering right?  Well … the recipe is pretty simple.  Except.  Yes … there is an exception.  I killed the yeast.

Attempt number one.  Thursday night.  I heated my milk and whisked in the instant yeast.  I was sure I had it … after all, I pulled out my thermometer and checked the temperature.

I should have just used my finger and tested the milk that way.  Sigh.  When I finished mixing and kneading everything together my dough was stiff and didn’t rise.  At all.  I even kept it in my oven overnight.  Nothing.

No go.

Attempt number two.  Friday night (yes.  I make bread on a Friday night… please don’t judge me).  This time I tested the milk with my finger.  Yeast survived!  YAY!  The kneading of the dough went well … I ended up with a silky and sticky (not tacky) dough.  I let it rise for just over an hour. 

It was a thing of beauty.

Step two.  Pull apart the dough into many balls.  Many balls. 

I didn’t get the 60 balls that the recipe book baked explorations dictated I would get – but I got 42.  A decent amount.  Especially after the first failed experience.  I was pleased.

Step three.  I dipped the balls in melted butter.  Greasy fingers.  Happy fingers. 

I then rolled them in a brown sugar – cinnamon mixture.  Happy nose.  A very happy nose. 

And Finally I started layering them in my bundt pan.  A beautiful brick house of dough balls. 

Step four.  Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap and allow to double in size again.  Perfect.  I decided to leave it for the night and bake it on Saturday morning.  Done.

Saturday morning.  I wake up at 6:20 am to preheat my oven to 350 F.  I place my bundt pan in the middle rack and jump in the shower. 

I smell the smoke. 

I quickly checked my oven and (duh!), my bundt pan has a removable base and so the caramel (from the cinnamon sugar mixture and butter) is dripping and touching the element within the oven.  No problem.  Quick fix – place a cookie sheet on the rack below.  It’ll catch the drippings.

Except.

I picked my flat cookie sheet.  Not one with a lip.  It didn’t catch anything.  And so … more smoke.  Only this time.  FIRE!

Seriously.  With 18 minutes to go – I have a fire in my oven.  At 7 am on a Saturday morning.  Oh goodness … please don’t let the fire alarm go off!

I turn off my oven, pull out the bundt pan (I have to save the monkey bread after all), and pour baking soda on the flame.  Close the oven door and wait.

15 minutes later I turn my oven back on.  Place the bundt pan on a cookie sheet (with a lip), and continue to bake the bread.

Success.

This bread was worth that drama.  And it taught me that I have a real problem.  My first thought when I saw the flame wasn’t for my safety … but rather how I was going to save my bread.  This could be a problem.

After the success (I brought the monkey bread to a holiday party) – I decided to bake it again.  3rd time – 4 days.  Obsessed much.  Totally.

This time I went mini.  As in mini balls in mini bundt pans.

Adorable.  Heck yes.  Just as delicious.  AB- Solutely. 

Worth trying and making today?  Oh my.  Need you really ask?  I mean … I fought through fire to make this.  So worth it.

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holiday cookie 5.0

This is it.  The fifth and final installment of my holiday cookie adventure.

I started on this journey trying to find a cookie that would top my gingersnap cookie.  You know … the one Robin and her mother passed on to me.  Basically … I’m considering this my family recipe (I spent a lot of time at Robin’s house growing up).

My journey lead me to discover:

1.  a delicious and chewy little spicy molasses cookie.

2.  a surprisingly tasty little chocolate ginger espresso cookies.  It requires a bit of work – but sure does look pretty.

3.  a thin, uber moist little ginger-maple thins.  A new Canadian classic me thinks.

4.  ginger-molasses lemon cookies.  I have declared it, and will stand by it, as my ultimate favourite holiday cookie.  (this did top the original gingersnap cookie).

And now for cookie number 5.  Inspired by my brother Louis.

I remember watching Louis slather a piece of white bread with peanut butter, cover that with an equal amount of molasses, and then top it with another piece of white bread.  After school snack.  Yep.  My reaction … astounded.  I preferred the classic peanut butter and honey combo and couldn’t understand his desire to ruin the peanut butter with sticky, bitter molasses.

Oh how things have changed.

Now I could eat spoonfuls of molasses.  No bread or peanut butter required.  Yes … you may look at me with complete bewilderment.

And so … with my brother in mind I decided to make these cookies.

They are … not for the faint hearted.  Heck.  These could be a meal.  Do I recommend these for the cookie spread?  Not really.  But I totally recommend these as a pre-playing in the snow snack.  Or a not to sweet treat in the morning.  These cookies stick to your bones.  In the best way imaginable.

Do not expect these to be at all like the other cookies I’ve been sharing with you.  They aren’t at all the same sort of cookie.  I can’t stress enough that these are dense.  And not sweet.  And not gingery.  But I still liked them.   Enough to eat half a dozen over the course of an afternoon.  I was giving my sweet tooth a little rest :0)

And so I present to you my peanut butter molasses cookies.  Made for my brother Louis.  But you should make them too.

peanut butter molasses cookies

ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. molasses

1 1/4 c. flour, sifted

1 c. oats

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

chocolate chips, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it gets nice and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Add the egg.  Beat well and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Now mix in the peanut butter, the molasses, and the vanilla.

In another bowl, combine all your dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt.

Add to the wet mix – mix until incorporated.  This shouldn’t take very long … maybe 1 minute.

This batter does not require cooling before handling.  It’s a drop cookie.

Drop a spoonful of cookie dough on your prepared cookie sheet (I use two spoons to assist in the dropping of the dough – it’s pretty sticky … thank you Arctic Andrew for showing me how to cornell the dough).  These cookies spread while they bake – so leave about 2-inches between each cookie.

Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 6 minutes.  But you should watch them carefully.

Leave on the cookie sheet for 4 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.  These are the types of cookies that get better as they sit … otherwise you don’t really taste the molasses – you’ll think you’d made just a peanut butter cookie.  Wait and you’ll see that it improves.

I then melted some chocolate chips in a double-boiler and then piped the chocolate over the cooled cookies.  Otherwise the cookies aren’t sweet AT ALL.

This is the one recipe where you will not feel like you’re baking holiday cookies.  So if you can’t be bothered to make it this weekend (but you should), then whip it up once you are over the ginger.  Over the spice.  Over the holiday flavours.  These could become a new staple in your life.  For reals.

Thanks Louis for the inspiration :0)

holiday cookie 4.0 (and i was on tv)

authors note: no studio pics today … I didn’t have an entourage this time round  :0) good thing for the clip!

These are the best cookies.  Period. Seriously.


And the best part about it … was that it was a pleasant surprise.  I honestly thought that they would be o.k. – simply a twist from the ordinary ginger cookie.

Wrong.

These are good.

Each cookie was thin.  And chewy.  And then … in the centre – you could still see the dark moistness of the molasses.  Oh my.

So the cookies were good.

But then it was time to turn them into little sandwiches … a layer of lemon glaze holding two ginger-molasses cookies together.

That is when they became HOLY HECK I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW WONDERFUL A COOKIE CAN BE! kind of cookies.

A-MAZ-ING.

I think I heart these cookies so much because they combine the ginger cookie (we know I’ obsessed) with lemon – which we all know is my number one true love.  Sigh.  A combination made in my kind of heaven.  DEE-LISH!

I also got to talk up these wonderful little babies while on Daytime Ottawa – Erin and Derick – became huge fans.  It turns out that TL is allergic to ginger … but she promised me that if she weren’t – she would love these cookies :0) LOVES IT!

click here to watch

This time round TL proved that she’s more than just the finishing touches gal.

She’s got skills.  As in the best reflexes EVER.

Did you see her react to my misdirection with the butter?  Fast hands people.  She’s got fast hands.

Derick didn’t do too badly himself … he just needs to remember that the molasses should always be added as a heaping quarter cup.  Always.  I think he knows better now (right Derrick) :0)

Let me guess … you want to make a batch of these cookies too right?  I mean … I am emphatically declaring these as my favourite holiday cookies.  EVER.  Bar NONE.

Since this blog is all about sharing the love … here’s the recipe.  Make this love.  Share it.  You won’t regret it.  I promise (have I let you down yet?).

ginger-molasses lemon cookies

ingredients:

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. molasses (heaping please)

1 egg

3/4 c. melted butter

2 c. flour, sifted

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 tsp salt

zest of half a lemon

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, molasses, egg and melted butter together.  Use either a whisk or a wooden spoon – no stand-mixer or hand-held mixers required.

Once everything is well combined, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and lemon zest.

Stir until combined.  This dough will seem a little oily – just keep mixing.  Once everything is incorporated, cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.  This will make it easier to handle.  Believe me … much easier (the original dough is otherwise too sticky and tacky to roll into small balls).

When ready – preheat your oven to 375 F.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Spread 1/2 c. raw sugar in a pie plate.

Roll the dough into small balls – then cover them completely in the raw sugar.  Place on the cookie sheet.  You want to leave about 2-inches apart from one another on the cookie sheet – they spread while baking.  I was able to get a dozen on each baking sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes.  Rotating the sheets at the halfway mark – this will ensure even baking.  If you’re like me you’ll notice that they look barely baked at the 4 minute mark – don’t worry – by 8 minutes, the top of the cookies will look cracked.  BEAUTIFUL!

Remove from the oven.  Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for 4 minutes.  This will allow them to firm up a bit.  Place them on the wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Now make the filling.  This is what makes these cookies extraordinary.  Sigh.

lemon glaze

ingredients:

3 tbsp butter, softened

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

juice of 1 lemon

In a large bowl (the powdered sugar can go flying!), whisk together the ingredients until smooth.  That’s it.  Add the lemon juice bit by bit – this will permit you to (1) decide how much lemon flavour you want and (2) ensure that the glaze isn’t too thin.  It should be about as thick as a caramel sauce … not a thin broth.  Is that helpful?

Spread about a teaspoon on one of the cookie bases (stay more in the centre of the cookie – not the sides), topping it with another cookie – creating a little sandwich.  Don’t worry if the top cookie looks like it’s going to slide off … just reposition it on top of the other cookie and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  They should firm up … leaving you the most beautiful cookie.

Lemon glaze sandwiches between two sugar-coated ginger-molasses cookies.

Sigh.

I’m still thinking about these cookies.

Time to whip up another batch.  For reals.

Enjoy!

Robin – you should make these … hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as your mother’s gingersnap recipe.