• Sweet vanilla yeast dough
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • Filling and dough topping
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/ 2 to 3/4 cup caramel bits (I used chooped caramel-filled Hershey kisses)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Butter Vanilla glaze
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)

Today was my first attempt at baking something that involves yeast and let me tell you it was a learning experience. The end result was heavenly, probably one of the best things I’ve ever ate, but getting there was no walk in the park. I never imagined that I would have so much trouble with getting my dough to rise. I went through 3 packets of active dry yeast on my first attempt at this dough. I knew something was wrong because my water, sugar, and yeast mixture wasn’t foaming. I tried to make the dough regardless only to end up with a lump that wouldn’t rise. Three packets of yeast was all I had, but I was so determined that I went to the grocery store and bought 3 packets of rapid rise yeast. Apparently, this yeast was supposed to be easier because instead of premixing it with water or milk you could mix it into the dry ingredients and then add the wet ones. I assumed this was foolproof. However, I combined all of the ingredients and my dough would still not rise! So I moved on to pack number 5. I mixed it with 1/4 cup microwaved water and 1 tsp sugar and the mixture sat in the glass with no reaction. I was down to one pack of yeast, until I finally caught on to what I was doing wrong. The liquids I was using were too hot! This time I microwaved 1/4 cup of milk for 30 seconds and then let it cool so it was lukewarm. I mixed in the yeast and sugar and prayed. Finally! My yeast was reacting with the warm milk and it was foaming. I added my new yeast mixture to my second attempt at dough along with a bit more flour and then after 4 hours of failed attempts, my dough finally rose! This recipe took me FOREVER, but it was so worth it for the final product. I also learned a lot about how temperamental yeast is.  Since I want to continue making bread products, its time I invest in a cooking thermometer because I’m obviously not a good judge of temperature. Hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes as I did!

I found this recipe on one of my favorite baking websites: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/chocolate-caramel-stuffed-monkey-bread-recipe and once I got the dough right, it was amazing!.

Directions:

1) Prepare the yeast dough by hand, machine or on the dough cycle of your bread machine. The dough will be soft and smooth. I used an electric mixer with bread beater attachments. I recommend “proofing” the yeast first. In other words, combining a 1/4 cup of warm milk (110-115°F, not hot), yeast packet, and 1 tsp sugar. Let it sit for 10 minutes and if the mixture becomes foamy and doubles in volume this means the yeast is reacting. I would then pour the mixture in a large bowl and add the flour and sugar followed by the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the melted butter is at room temperature before you add it. Knead dough until all components are incorporated.

2) Shape the dough into a ball and put into a bowl greased with cooking spray.  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, or until full and puffy. A technique that worked for me was placing a mug of steaming hot water next to the bowl in the microwave.

 

3) Gently deflate the dough and pat to an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Cut into 4 equal lengths, then cut each length into 10 pieces. Use a floured surface to eliminate stickiness and then spread out on a greased baking sheet. Spray some cooking spray on the knife so it doesn’t stick to dough.

4) Taking one piece at a time, create a small well in the dough ball and add the chopped up caramel Kisses or chocolate and caramel pieces. I used about half a Kiss in each ball. Next time i will probably add a whole Kiss and some mini chocolate chips as well.  Seal the dough into a ball and place in a well-greased 10 bundt pan.

5) Continue to fill and add dough balls to the pan until all dough is used. Pour the melted butter/vanilla mixture over the dough and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes or until puffy.

6) Remove the plastic wrap and bake in a pre-heated 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the outside. I baked it for 20 minutes and it came out perfectly.

7) Turn the hot bread out onto a rimmed serving platter. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Prepare the glaze by whisking the ingredients together until smooth and pourable, adding more cream if needed. Pour over the bread and serve warm.

Cherish every mouthful of this decadent sweet bread because for the hours it takes to make, it only takes about 5 minutes to do some serious damage eating it.  Make sure too spread the extra frosting that drips onto the cake plate onto your little slice of heaven. In my case it was 5 slices and it was worth every bite!

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