After failing to make decent hot cross buns I hit upon the idea of using a spicy, enriched hot cross bun dough and put it into what is known as Monkey Bread. The origins of this bread are a little unclear but what is clear is that this version is an absolute winner. When I made this I almost ate my weight in bread it was so good. However, given the amount of butter and sugar that goes into it, then it should be very moreish – this is not diet food! The only debate in our family was whether the top or the bottom was best. It was a 2-way split for the buttery, caramelised top chunks versus the crispy bottom chunks. It's a 'tear and share' bread so it's very easy to have 'just one more chunk'!
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500g strong plain flour
75g caster sugar
Seeds from 9 cardamom pods
zest of 2 oranges
zest of 1 lemon
50g mixed peel
14g (or two sachets) instant yeast
1 large egg
125g melted butter
Maple or date syrup for drizzling
- Rub the butter into the flour in a large mixing bowl (of a food processor if you have one.)
- Crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar.
- Add the caster sugar, cinnamon, allspice, crushed cardamom seeds, orange & lemon zests, sultanas, salt and yeast.
- Gently warm the milk to about blood temperature. (I use a microwave and an old baby bottle!)
- Beat in the milk and large egg. If using a food processor beat on slow for a few minutes before turning to medium for a couple of minutes more. If doing it by hand just keep on kneading for several minutes. You should have a nice stretchy, soft dough that isn't too sticky. Add more flour or milk to help achieve this if needed.
- Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a warm spot. This could take an hour or two depending on how warm it is.
- Meanwhile butter a cake tin. I used a ring shaped, Savarin tin but you could probably also use a normal round tin about 20 – 23cm in diameter.
- Once it has more or less doubled in size knock it back and knead briefly.
- Mix the demerara sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Cut off walnut sized chunks of dough. Dip them firstly in the melted butter and then in the demerara sugar. Arrange these in the bottom of the tin.
- Put the tin in a large bag (clear bags are best as you can see what's happening.)
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Once doubled in size, remove from bag and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, drizzle with either maple or date syrup. Wait a couple of minutes and then turn it out onto a plate before drizzling a bit more syrup on top.
- Allow to cool for a while but make sure you get stuck in whilst it is still warm.