Monkey Bread (Pluckets)
Adapted from "A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage" by Greg Patent
Making this bread is a bit of a time commitment if you do it all at once, but the easiest way to pull it off for breakfast is to let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. Just prepare the dough through step 6 of the recipe, punch it down, and stick it in the fridge to finish rising. In the morning, roll it into little balls, coat each one with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and nestle them all in a Bundt pan. Let them rise again, then bake until puffed and glaze-y.
Special equipment: You’ll need a 12-cup Bundt pan and an instant-read thermometer to make this recipe.
Game plan: This bread is best enjoyed the same day it’s baked.
For the dough:
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces and at room temperature
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for coating the bowl
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), melted and cooled
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
For the dough:
1Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until steam rises from the surface and small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, add 1/2 cup of the sugar, and stir until it’s dissolved. Set aside to cool until the milk feels warm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer registers 105°F to 115°F, about 20 minutes.
2Meanwhile, place the warm water in a small bowl, add the yeast and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and stir to combine. Let sit until very foamy and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
3Place 3 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low to combine. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, butter, cooled milk-sugar mixture, and yeast mixture and mix on low until a wet, cohesive dough forms, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
4Mix on medium-high speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and it forms a single mass on the paddle, about 5 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with the spatula, and remove the paddle.
5Fit a dough hook on the mixer and add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Mix on low speed until the flour is just incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky to the touch, about 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with vegetable oil or cooking spray and set it aside.
6Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the prepared bowl, and turn to coat it in the oil or spray. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
7Punch the dough down, shape it into a ball, and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, return it to the warm place, and let it rise until slightly more than doubled, about 1 hour. (If you’re not baking the dough until the next day, place it in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight.)
1If the dough rose overnight in the refrigerator, let it sit in the bowl at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling it out.
2Place the dough on a work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square. Use a large knife to score the dough into 64 (1-inch) squares, then cut the dough along the scored lines into pieces. Roll each piece between your palms into a rough ball and return it to the work surface.
3Place the melted butter in a shallow dish. Generously coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with some of the melted butter; set the pan aside. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a second shallow dish.
4Working with 6 dough balls at a time, roll them in the butter to coat. Then drop them in the sugar mixture and roll to coat. Place the sugared dough balls into the prepared pan, layering them over any spaces as you go. (Don’t worry about being too precise.) When you’re done, you should have about 3 layers of dough and the pan should be about half full. Drizzle the remaining butter and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the bread.
5Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm area until the pan is about two-thirds full, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
6Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the bottom third.
7Remove the plastic wrap from the pan. Bake until the bread is browned and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes (if you let the bread cool any longer, the sugar will solidify and stick to the pan). Place a large plate over the Bundt pan to completely cover it, then flip the pan over to release the bread. Carefully remove the pan and serve the bread warm or at room temperature.
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