Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pecan Monkey Bread

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2015 is a good year for all of us. 

I've been so bad at posting! And here I was, resolving to post more regularly in 2015! It has been a hectic year so far. We've been barely cooking and eating at home. For the last few days, things have become slightly less crazy, and we've all grown tired of eating out. So here's my first post for this year. 

This recipe is from a book I got as a Christmas gift. It's a compilation of baking recipes by Martha Day. The book has tons of awesome sounding recipes from all over the world! Unfortunately I'm unable to find a link to an online store that's selling this particular book. 
This morning for breakfast we ate this delicious Monkey Bread. It was really, really good! I made the dough, finished the first rise and assembled the bread last night and left it in the fridge overnight. This morning, I took it out of the fridge at about 5am and let it sit out on the counter till around 7:30. We had fresh Monkey Bread for breakfast, and lots of smiles all around!

Pecan Monkey Bread 
Adapted from "Baking" by Martha Day
Ingredients
4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
30g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Coating:
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar
1/4 cup soft dark brown sugar
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter

Method
1. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter. Heat gently until the butter has almost dissolved completely. Set aside for 5 minutes and stir in the egg, and the egg yolk and whisk well to combine. Check the temperature and allow it to cool until the mixture is slightly warm - about 105-110F. 
2. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together the flour, instant yeast, salt and sugar. Set aside.
3. When the milk mixture is warm, create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the milk mixture in. Stir will a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Then knead the dough using the hook attachment on your stand mixer or by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. This will take about 7-8 minutes on your stand mixer at medium speed, and about 10-15 minutes by hand.
4. Coat a large bowl with oil, and place the ball of dough into the bowl, giving it a turn in the bowl to coat it lightly with oil. Cover the top with clingfilm and set aside for about 1-1.5 hours. You want the dough to double in volume during this time. 
5. Prepare the coating ingredients by combing the sugars, pecans and cinnamon powder in a small bowl. Keep the melted butter in a separate bowl. Prepare a 9 or 10inch fluted baking tin by greasing it generously. I used a 10" angel cake tin. 
6. At the end of the proofing time, deflate the dough and divide it into 32 even sized pieces. 
7. Roll each piece of dough into a tight ball. Drop each ball into the butter and using a fork, fish out the ball and drop it into the bowl with cinnamon sugar. Roll the ball in this mixture until it is well coated, making sure that some pieces of pecan have stuck on to the ball. Drop the ball into the prepared tin.
8. Continue rolling and layering the balls of dough in the baking tin until you've used up all the dough. 
9. Cover the pan with clingfilm and set aside for about 45 minutes or until the dough is risen and puffy.
10. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Bake the Money Bread for about 30 minutes or so or until the bread is golden brown.
11. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, loosen the sides using a knife and flip the bread onto a plate.
12. Serve warm and let people rip off a ball or five and enjoy!
The original recipe contained 1/2 cup of raisins that are sprinkled over the balls of dough about halfway into layering. My husband isn't a great fan of raisins in cinnamon bread, and so I decided to omit.

What the recipe doesn't suggest is drizzling the bread with decadent cream cheese glaze before serving. I high recommend this. I tried it after the pictures were taken, and it was just divine! And that's not even the best part! The best part of this recipe is those little pecan halves that drop off the bread and are sugar roasted to perfection. Crunching on those candied pecans was just bliss!
I'll be back again soon (I hope!), with more delicious recipes to share for this year! God bless you all! :)


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

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I can't believe 2014 has already come to an end. This year has been a wild ride. Personally, it has been more highs than lows. Thanks to God for His favour and protection! I have so much to be grateful to Him for. But I know it has been a difficult year for a lot of people I know, and for the world in general. And it has been a year full of bad news - literally. I've hated even looking at the newspaper most of this year. Here's hoping 2015 is better! 
I wanted to make something nice for the last breakfast of the year. If you know me at all, you know how much I love baking (and eating!) muffins. So that's what we had for breakfast this last morning of 2014. The flavours are classic, the recipe is easy and the muffins are pretty darn good!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from this recipe on food.com
Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup corn starch (or 2 cups cake flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Scant 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
90g (slightly more than 3oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin by greasing and flouring, or lining with paper liners. I used free-standing paper muffin cups, and lined them up on a cookie sheet. So convenient! 
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, lime juice and vanilla.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is creamy. 
5. Beat in the melted butter, mixing until completely incorporated.
6. Beat in the buttermilk and whisk well to combine.
7. Add the dry ingredients and fold together until combined, and no dry pockets of flour remain.
8. Fold in the blueberries.
9. Spoon into your prepared muffin tin, and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and the tops spring back when touched.

The cream cheese flavor in these muffins is subtle but it adds so much! The crumb is moist, the tang is subtle but brilliant - enhanced by the lime juice, and the blueberries are fresh and bursting with flavor! I just loved this recipe to bits! The base recipe is brilliant and I think would be great with so many other add-ins. Next time, I think I'll try strawberries or a cinnamon-sugar ripple! Mmmm…

The only addition I would make to this recipe would be to add a nice crumb or streusel topping. The muffin itself isn't too sweet, which is how we like it. But some sweet crunchy topping would definitely be welcome! 
Try this recipe, and I'm sure you won't be sorry!

So that's it for 2014, folks! I'll see you in the new year. And once again, I pray that 2015 will be good to us all. God bless you!

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" Lamentations 3:22-24
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

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This Christmas has been such a busy one so far! One of the busiest ever, I think. But then again, I probably say that every year! It is nice to be busy and have a lot of things to do. I just wish I had a few more hours in the day so I could get some sleep!

Well, enough of the 'if only's and on to these muffins. Cranberries, spice snd citrus zest. These muffins are just so Christmassy! I think they'd be a perfect addition to the Christmas breakfast or brunch table. My little girl insisted they we use colored sanding sugar but feel free to use plain old regular granulated sugar. 
I used frozen cranberries to make these, and the tartness of the cranberries, the sweetness of the batter and the flavor and aroma of the citrus and spice are just awesome together!

Fresh Cranberry Orange Muffins 
Adapted from this recipe on food.com
Ingredients 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt  
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A dash of freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder 
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large egg 
Zest of one orange 
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
1/4 cup venerable oil

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin by lining each cup with a paper liner. 
2. In a large bowl, combine all the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir well to combine. 
3. Add the frozen/fresh cranberries into the flour mixture and toss well to coat the berries. If any of the berries are extra-big, you could halve them before adding them in. 
4. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, orange zest, orange juice and the oil. Whisk together. 
5. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don't over-mix, or you'll be left with tough muffins. 
6. Spoon the muffin batter into the 12 cup muffin tray, dividing the batter evenly.
7. Sprinkle the tops of the muffin with some sugar. 
8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched and they just start to brown. 
While at first I thought these muffins are a little too sweet, it just balanced well since the unsweetened fresh/frozen cranberries are so tart. The texture is lovely, and the crunch of the sugar top is very nice!

Oh and I must mention that they smell lovely while baking! Definitely a recipe that I would recommend.

Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day with lots of love, laughter, music, good and presents! But most of all - I hope you get a chance to reflect on what Christmas really means.

Isaiah 9:6 - For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
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