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Apple Cider Monkey Bread

There’s a doughnut shop tucked away in the corner of the Boston Public Market not too far from Faneuil Hall. One day, I walked into the large building exhausted from a stroll through the rambunctious produce stalls at Haymarket, and might’ve passed by the small countertop had it not been for the glorious, wafting incense of buttery cinnamon and cider seeping toward my walking path. These people’s apple cider doughnut holes can and will steal a crowd just by turning on a ceiling fan. And I’m sure anyone living on our apartment floor will say the same about this monkey bread. I love knowing I can grab people’s attention so subtly. This recipe brings me back to my first-ever monkey bread Christmas morning.

EGG-FREE, VEGAN OPTION
MAKES 1 LOAF

DOUGH

3 tbsp (45 g) packed brown sugar

¼ cup (60 ml) warm water, at 115°F (46°C)

2 tsp (6 g) active dry yeast

3–3½ cups (360–420 g) white whole wheat flour, divided

½ tsp salt

¾ cup (180 ml) warm milk

3 tbsp (45 ml) apple cider vinegar

½ cup (112 g) softened butter

APPLE CIDER COATING

¾ cup (150 g) packed brown sugar

2 tsp (3 g) ground cinnamon

¼ cup (60 g) applesauce

2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

4 tbsp (56 g) softened butter

APPLE GLAZE

2 tbsp (28 g) butter

2 tbsp (30 g) applesauce

5 tbsp (62 g) packed brown sugar

Pinch of salt

To make the dough, add the brown sugar to the bowl of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let it bloom until a cap of foam forms on the top, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine 2½ cups (300 g) of the flour and the salt. Mix on low speed, pouring in the warm milk, apple cider vinegar and bloomed yeast mixture. Add about ½ cup (60 g) more of flour and knead until all the flour is mixed in, then add the butter and mix until the butter is completely worked in. Add extra flour gradually just until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl. You may not need all the flour. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, dark place for 1 to 1½ hours, or until doubled in size.

To make the coating, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, salt and butter in a bowl. Oil a Bundt pan and drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) of the coating on the bottom of the pan.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down in the center to release the air. Pinch off about 1½-inch (3.8-cm) balls from the dough, roll it into a ball and submerge it in the coating. Place the drenched ball into the Bundt pan. Continue until all the balls are coated and arranged in the pan. If there is any leftover coating, drizzle it over the top of the dough. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.

To make the glaze, melt the butter, applesauce, brown sugar and salt together in a saucepan on the stove top or in a bowl in the microwave. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C or gas mark 4) and position a rack in the center of the oven.

Remove the plastic from the risen monkey bread, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through, and it passes the toothpick/skewer test. Remove the monkey bread from the oven and carefully flip it out onto a serving tray while hot. Drizzle it with the apple glaze, and serve warm.

NOTE: The bread can be assembled the day before and left in the fridge to slow rise overnight. The next day, remove the loaf from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.

VEGAN OPTION: Replace the butter with virgin coconut oil, at room temperature, or dairy-free butter, and make sure the milk is plant-based.

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