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Go bananas for monkey bread

We don’t have cable TV in our home, and while I don’t have anything against cable, I don’t watch that much TV.

The fact that there is a Food Network and that I don’t get to watch most of the shows I wish I was hosting is just about the only downside to the whole not having 150 channels and nothing good to watch.

I am, however, well acquainted with many of the food shows and if I’m near a TV with cable, I flip on the tube and head right to the cooking network. The last time I was channel-surfing, one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Bobby Flay, was making monkey bread. Boy, did that episode bring back memories of how monkey bread is so much fun, delicious and easy to make.

Monkey bread is composed of yeast dough rolled into balls (frozen bread dough is most often used) baked in a cake pan (Bundt pan) after being coated in butter, cinnamon, sugar, chopped nuts and various other kinds of “stuff.” It’s best eaten fresh out of the oven (cooled slightly) with everyone grabbing at it with their fingers.

The following recipes are all variations and can be tweaked to use whatever coating and toppings you prefer. Just remember to really grease your baking pan or the monkey bread will make a monkey out of you by sticking to the pan instead of coming out to be gobbled up.

Rhodes Butterscotch Bubble Bread

24 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed but still cold

1/2 box butterscotch or vanilla pudding mix, non-instant

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan very well. Place the pudding mix in a shallow bowl. Cut the rolls in half and then roll them in the dry pudding mix. Place 1/2 the rolls in the bottom of the greased pan, alternately with pecans. Repeat with the remaining rolls and nuts. Sprinkle the remaining pudding mix over the top and set it aside.

In a microwave bowl combine the brown sugar and butter. Microwave until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the coated rolls. Let the dough rise until double in size or the dough is even with the top of the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cover the top with foil and then cook for another 15 minutes. Check to see if the top is golden. If not, cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes without the foil. Remove from the oven immediately after baking. Cool for 5 minutes; using a knife loosen the bread from the sides of the pan and invert the bread onto a serving plate. Serves 8 to 10.

Bobby Flay Pecan Pie Monkey Bread

Dough:

1 package ( 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

5 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1 to 1/4 cups warm milk

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

Caramel:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for greasing

1 cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons whipping cream

6 tablespoons chopped pecans

Topping:

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

6 tablespoons chopped pecans

Grease a Bundt pan.

For the dough: Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 3 cups of the flour, the milk, butter, sugar, salt and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a firm dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it over once to grease the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight (you can use frozen bread dough, thawed if you prefer).

For the caramel: In a sauce pan combine the butter, brown sugar and cream; bring it to a boil. Cook at a simmer, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Pour half the mixture into the greased pan and sprinkle with the pecans.

Punch the risen dough down and shape into 40 balls (1 to 1 inches in diameter).

For topping: In a bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Pour the melted butter into another bowl. Roll the balls in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 20 balls in the Bundt pan and top with remaining caramel and the pecans. Lastly, place the final 20 balls of dough into the pan. Cover the Bundt pan with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

Savory Garlic Monkey Bread

3 tablespoons minced green onions or shallots

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons butter, melted or olive oil

2 eggs

24 frozen dinner rolls, thawed

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Grease a Bundt pan. In a bowl combine the green onions, parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, butter and eggs and whisk to combine. Dip rolls into the egg mixture.

Place 1/2 of the coated dough balls into the prepared pan. Sprinkle 1/2 the Parmesan cheese over the top. Top with the remaining rolls and cover with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with wax paper and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 to 50 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 8 to 10.

– Modified from a Rhodes recipe – Recipe from Bobby Flay on the Food Network Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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