By Ferris Bueller…
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”
We don’t look around enough. You, me… All of us. We’re guilty of preoccupation, of the never ending rat race. The one that leads to… Where?
Where the hell are we going in such a hurry?
Why aren’t we slowing things down? Why aren’t we enjoying life? Why are we constantly on our phones, answering emails, fulfilling someone else’s dream? Life is passing us by. Are these questions too thought provoking?
OK – I’ll stop.
No… I’ll slow things down.
Let’s bake ourselves a batch of Blueberry Lemon Monkey Bread.
Monkey bread is not a quick “wham bam” situation. This monkey bread takes time. There is a macerating of deliciously tart blueberries, zesting of a lemon, a sprinkle of sugar.
There is the slightly hoppy scent of yeast. There is kneading and sticky fingers involved. Very sticky fingers. There is a slightly sticky dough which comes together and gets coated in butter.
There is the rise. The waiting.
There is a punching down of dough. A press down, really. A cut, a roll, a dip into butter, and a roll in sugar. The spooning of macerated berries over balls of sugared dough. There is a covering of said blueberries by more balls rolled in sugar.
Another rise, another wait… Meanwhile the scent of it all is most intoxicating. And it has yet to bake. Finally this is popped in the oven, where the blueberries burst and release their juice; and when coupled with sugared balls of dough make syrupy oven babies.
Monkey bread is inverted onto a plate where warm blueberries fall every which way. A quick cream cheese icing is made; the very last piece of this doughy, fruity, syrupy, lemon zested puzzle.
A heavier drizzle.
The heaviest of drizzles.
A serving. Tines of a fork sinking into a piece of syrupy dough and 3 warm blueberries.
That moment of utter bliss.
From start to finish… Many steps. Almost 3 hours.
3 hours where I thought of nothing but steps which yielded this monkey bread. A bread devoured the very same day by two generations of strong women, plus a mini third. Her strength in the making.
Talking, laughter, and monkey bread in a small kitchen.
It was worth the wait.
For the yeast
- 2 1/4 teaspoons 1 packet Active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup Warm water about 110-115 degrees F
- 1 tablespoon Granulated sugar
For the macerated blueberries
- 1 dry pint Blueberries
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup Granulated sugar
For the dough
- 4 1/4 cup All-purpose flour plus more for the dough
- 2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup Milk
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 1/2 cup Granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup 1 stick Unsalted butter
For the cream cheese icing
- 4 ounces half a block Cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup Confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste
Bloom the yeast:
- In a small bowl combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Whisk quickly with a fork until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Allow it to sit for about 7-10 minutes until foamy.
Macerate the blueberries
- Rinse and dry blueberries. The drying doesn't have to be very thorough. Zest lemon over the blueberries. Sprinkle sugar over the blueberries and mix to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the dough - Mixing by hand:
- Liberally butter a large bowl and set aside, preferably in a cool place.
- In a separate large bowl combine about 3 cups flour. To the flour add the sugar, the dry milk powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add milk, melted butter, beaten egg and yeast mixture. Stir this until a dough forms.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and begin kneading by hand (it’s therapeutic. You need this). At this point the dough will be very, very sticky. Continue kneading the dough adding about ¼ cup at a time of remaining 1 ¼ cup of flour. Knead dough for about 10 minutes or so until the dough is mostly smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky to the touch. I found the dough does remain sort of sticky and that’s fine. Shape dough into a ball and place it your prepped buttered bowl, turning a few times to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a moist, clean dish towel and let dough rise in a warm place 1 to 1½ hours until doubled. While the dough is rising prepare the coating.
Prepare the coating:
- Pour sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Melt the butter, place in a small bowl, cover, and set aside. Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a large Bundt pan.
Final dough prep:
- Once the dough has finished rising, turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Press down on it gently to remove air and roll or stretch the dough with your hands to form a rough rectangle. With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut strips of dough lengthwise. Do the same in the other direction, so you’re left with at least 48-50 pieces of dough. Some pieces will be larger than others. It's cool. Size doesn’t matter.
- Roll each dough piece into a ball, then dip each ball into the melted butter, allowing the excess butter to drip into the bowl and roll the ball in the sugar. Create 1 layer of dough balls along the bottom of the Bundt pan. Repeat with a second layer of dough balls, staggering the seams where the dough balls meet. Spoon macerated blueberries over the top of the dough balls. Add 2 more layers of dough balls over the macerated blueberries, again staggering the seams where dough balls meet.
- Cover pan with plastic wrap; let rise at least 45 minutes until nearly doubled.
- While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the dough has fully risen, unwrap the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until bread is a deep golden brown on top and filling is bubbling. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes, and then carefully invert monkey bread onto a serving plate. Make the icing.
- To a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (a hand mixer and a bowl work here too), add cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Mix on low speed until the confectioners’ sugar is mostly incorporated into the cream cheese. Add the milk and vanilla bean paste. Increase the speed to high and mix until smooth. You can add more powdered sugar or milk until you reach desired consistency. Spoon or drizzle the icing over the monkey bread. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Serves about 8
- Adapted from: Girl Versus Dough