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Rich and sweet, monkey bread is a ‘pull apart’ treat. I had it as a child a few times, the simian sound intriguing and repulsing me as I gingerly sampled. Not a tradition, my grandmother exposed us to the treats for several holidays during my teen years; I still remember all ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’.  Preparing this sweet gem as an adult was delicious gratification and an exercise in nostalgia.

Also known as Hungarian coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake and bubble loaf, the origin of the term monkey bread is uncertain. Most often served as a breakfast pastry, recipes for the succulent bread first appeared in American women’s magazines and community cookbooks in the 1950s. It is traditionally served hot so that the baked segments can be easily torn away and eaten by hand.

This recipe is not super gooey like other versions. Here, the dough is divided into smaller portions so that each bite has a higher concentration of butter and cinnamon.

Hands on   : forty-five minutes

Total time :  three hours (including rising time)

Ingredients:

For the dough…..

Two envelopes of active dry yeast
Half a cup of granulated sugar
One quarter cup of warm water (115 degrees)
1 cup of milk, heated
Six tablespoons of butter, softened
Half teaspoon of salt
Two eggs, slightly beaten
Five and a half cups all-purpose flour

….and the topping:

One and a half cups granulated sugar
Half a cup of chopped walnuts
Two teaspoons ground ginger
One teaspoon cinnamon
Half cup of butter, melted

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and one tablespoon of the sugar in the water; allow the mixture to stand for five minutes. In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, milk, butter, salt and eggs.

Now: add the yeast mixture.

Next, beat in the flour a cup or so at a time, using an electric mixer. Beat until smooth.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead.  Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then knead the dough for eight minutes more. When finished, place the dough in a greased bowl, turning the dough greased side up.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk….about thirty minutes or so.

Now to work on the topping….

In a small bowl, combine sugar, walnuts, ginger and cinnamon. Set aside.

Punch the dough down and divide it into forty-eight portions.

Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball first in the melted butter , then the walnut mixture.. Then place the balls in a greased ten-by-four loaf pan or bundt pan. Sprinkle any remaining topping over  the dough.

Cover and allow the dough to rise for thirty minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes or until golden brown. Allow your masterpiece to cool before serving.

monkey bread Pictures, Images and Photos

Serves ten.

~per serving:

621 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 11 grams of protein, 95 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 22 grams fat 11 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 303 milligrams sodium.

Gayle ‘De-Licious’ Johnson has composed an excellent yarn of divergence and growth. There is Death here. There is also Life, Redemption, and Perseverance. Ms. Johnson shows superb balance in the texturing and shading of her creations. Her execution of a ‘full circle’ storytelling device in this coming of age tale was deftly implemented, injecting the reader with a sense of having traveled from there and back and then beyond; her music references pepper nostalgia throughout, cementing the period’s timesense.

Miss Johnson’s creation, the young heroine Nina, had some tough choices to make. Her clinical processing and basic fortitude, her steadfastness, was both uplifting and heartbreaking. Instilled with wisdom and a common sense uncanny for someone of her years, the entities she desired most in life were fully visualized and achievable; a certain naivety wouldn‘t allow her accept anything else, her focus laserlike and undaunted.

Guided by an internal barometer calibrated on bad influences and green eyed monsters, her counterpart was aimless and reckless. Driven by impulse and envy, Joi supplied the perfect balance, the ultimate foil. While the love made available to her was unquestionable, the firm and amorous resolve was resented and scoffed upon, returning in the form of disdain, disrespect, and deceit.

The villains: shadowy and sincere. Some in your face, others passive, causing doubt throughout, and continuing with dread when corruption surfaces. A fourth quarter revelation chimes in during the resolution, reminding us that the world is a tiny place, and that Time sheds light at its own pace.

A succulent read, this morsel satisfies like bowl of warm cobbler, draped in a dollop of your favorite topping.

Gayle Johnson delivers in What’s Past is Not Forgotten.