Wine Wednesday: Monkey Bread with Bourbon Crème Anglaise

Ok, so while not technically drinking the bourbon, this delish Monkey Bread will give you that warm and fuzzy feeling.  I love baking and honestly don’t do it enough.  When I attended the pastry certification program at the Culinary Institute, some of my best times were playing in cake flour and butter….on the butter! Yes, everything is better with butter (and bacon, but that’s another post!).

This is one of my favorite treats but if you eat this all year, the ‘monkey’ will be around your middle.  This is a wonderful hostess gift if you care to bake-one: bring one.

The sauce is the key

Monkey Bread with Bourbon Crème Anglaise
Serves 6-8

For the dough
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

For the caramel coating
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the bourbon crème anglaise
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over warm water and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and butter over medium-low until butter is just melted. Turn off heat and cool (to approximately 105 ° – 110 °). Stir in the egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt, followed by the yeast mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 2 cups of flour to the milk mixture and beat until the flour is absorbed and the dough is sticky. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and continue to mix on medium-low speed until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 6 – 8 minutes. Add more flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, if the dough is too sticky. (The dough should remove easily from the sides of the bowl.)

Transfer the dough to a large, well-greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest in a warm, draft-free place for one hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a rough, flat square, about 1/2-inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the dough into small pieces, about 1-inch in size, rolling each in the palm of your hands to form a smooth ball.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Have the melted butter ready in a separate bowl. Dunk each ball into melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated evenly. Layer the balls as you go in a well-greased Bundt pan, staggering the rows as you build. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (If cooking on the same day, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest again in a warm place for an additional hour, or until it has doubled in size. Continue with the baking instructions below.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least one hour before ready to cook and allow to rise in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 30-35 minutes (33 works for me), until the top is a deep golden brown and the caramel is bubbling. Cool the bread in the pan for NO LONGER THAN 5 minutes (to prevent sticking), then turn out onto a serving platter. Cool for an additional 10 minutes before eating. This bread is best enjoyed immediately. Serve with bourbon crème anglaise dipping sauce.

For the bourbon crème anglaise, heat the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-low until a ring of bubbles begins to form around the edges. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Pour about 1/4 of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking vigorously to prevent scrambling. Pour the warmed eggs into the remaining milk in the saucepan. Return the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes). Whisk in the vanilla and bourbon. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and chill, covered, until ready to serve.

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