So, some people say “Bacon makes everything better!” and to those people I say a resounding “Heck yes it does!!” Trust me, I’m right there with you. But lately I’ve been noticing a trend in my baking and that trend is to take almost anything I’m baking and say “Orange makes everything better!”
So far, this citrus statement is tending to be true. Nearly any recipe that I’ve made lately I’ve thrown some orange juice or orange zest into it and it’s made it into a vibrant new creation… cookies, pies (posts for both delightful creations coming soon!) and now this… Monkey bread.
Each and every Christmas for as long as I can remember there were things that my brothers and sister and I looked forward to each year. First, there was getting our Christmas tree and spending time as a family decorating it. I loved that fresh pine scent emanating throughout the house. Even now, the smell of a pine tree brings back childhood Christmas memories and for that reason, a fake tree shall never cross over the threshold of my house. Next, there was the excitement of Santa coming. My brother, Matt and I would spend Christmas Eve after dinner packing our “kit” full of games, crayons, flashlights and toys to keep us occupied because once Mom went to bed we would try to sneak downstairs into the living room so that we could sit in the dark and try to catch a glimpse of Santa when he came. (Each year we got caught and were inevitably sent back to bed with the warning that Santa would not come until we were asleep, of course.)
Then, there was Christmas morning. Of course, there was there the excitement of running into the living room to see that big twinkling Christmas tree surrounded by mountains of brightly wrapped packages and the stockings bulging with surprises but after that… after that Nana would come. With Nana, came finger bread!! (Which now as an adult, I know was actually her name for Monkey Bread) Matthew, Doug, Erin and I all looked forward to that finger bread every Christmas morning because it was the one time per year that she would make that soft, gooey, sugary deliciousness! There was nothing better than getting those first few pieces from the outside… those were the best ones because they had the most coating. Don’t get me wrong, the inside was good as well but those outside ones were the ones you wanted dibs on. Now, we’re all grown up and everyone is all spread out with our family in several different states and unfortunately, we don’t often get to spend Christmas together. However, every Christmas I get that phone call from Matt… “You’re making the finger bread, right?” Not a year goes by that we don’t partake in that wonderful treat and remember Christmas morning when Nana brought us her finger bread.
This year, I decided to break from tradition and put my citrusy spin on this classic and I couldn’t be happier with the results. (Although, I don’t know if my brother will let me mess with tradition for the real deal on Christmas morning.) Just a hint of orange puts a fresh spin on the classic monkey bread. Enjoy!!
**…Your Mouth Will Thank You!
Cinnamon Orange Monkey Bread
**For a quick version, skip making your own dough. Use 3-4 cans of refrigerated dinner rolls. Cut into fourths and follow the rest of the instructions. Enjoy!**
1/4 c. water, warm
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading, if necessary)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 large orange
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 sticks of butter
2 Tbsp orange juice
-In the bowl of a mixer combine the yeast and warm water. Let it proof for about 3 minutes.
-Stir in 1 cup of flour, salt and sugar.
-Stir in the egg, melted butter and warm milk.
-Add the remaining flour in 3 additions mixing at medium speed with the dough hook after each addition.
-Once all the flour has been incorporated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
-Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten. Cut off small pieces and form into 1/2 inch balls.
-In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and the zest of 1 large orange.
-Roll each dough ball in the cinnamon/sugar/zest mixture and place into a greased bunt pan.
-After all the dough balls have been coated and placed in the pan, cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let the bread rise until almost doubled (about an hour).
-After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Place the butter, 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 teaspoons cinnamon into a small saucepan.
-Over medium-low heat, melt the mixture stirring constantly until smooth.
-Pour the mixture over the dough and immediately place in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
-After the baking is done, invert the bundt pan on a plate and allow to sit for 15 minutes with the bundt pan still on top. After 15 minutes, remove pan and cool slightly and then serve either warm or at room temperature.