Maple Pecan Monkey Bread

Continuing with our “Almost Fall” baking theme, here is one you will want to try when you have some time and energy on your hands. This is where you will actually be making bread with yeast and will need time for the bread dough to rise but trust me it is well worth the effort. It’s not difficult, just a little time consuming.

The maple syrup is a key ingredient but it matters not which grade you select really. Grade A will offer a more delicate sweetness. This recipe is at its soft and gooey best the day it’s made, but if necessary it can be kept at room temperature overnight and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.  Happy bread baking!

Bon Appétit!   Chef Bettina

Maple Pecan Monkey Bread

3 ½  cups all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon instant yeast

2 ½  teaspoons fine salt

4  large eggs, at room temperature

½  cup, plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 ¼  cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks), cut up and softened, plus more for the bowl and pan

¼  cup sugar

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1  cup pecan halves, toasted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt on low speed to blend. Add eggs, 2 tablespoons syrup and 3 tablespoons warm water, and beat on low speed until the mixture comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and beat on low speed.

While mixer is beating, add 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter, just a few pieces at a time, until fully incorporated. Continue beating, scraping the bowl and hook occasionally, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough doesn’t come together easily after a few minutes and remains shaggy, dry, or tough, add a little warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a smooth, soft ball.

Lightly butter a large bowl. Turn dough into bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Gently press the dough down.

When ready to assemble, melt remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until dairy solids turn golden brown and butter smells nutty. While stirring, add remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1 teaspoon salt in a steady stream. Bring to a boil, stirring, then remove from the heat.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Butter a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and roll into a 2-inch thick rope. Cut into 8 even pieces, then cut each of those pieces into 8 pieces for 64 pieces total.

Gently roll a piece into a ball and drop in cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat until you have a single layer of balls at the bottom of the bowl. Shake the bowl to evenly coat the balls with the cinnamon sugar. Put the sugared balls in the pan and repeat until you have a single layer in the pan. Scatter some pecans all around. Repeat until all the balls and pecans are in the pan. Drizzle the brown butter syrup all along the sides of the pan and over the top of the balls. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until puffed and an inch away from the top of the pan, 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover pan and bake until golden brown on top, 35 to 40 minutes. Put pan on a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes. Center a large plate over the pan, grip the plate and pan together, and quickly and carefully flip both together. Carefully lift off the pan. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

*Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin.  She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the Executive Chef and owner of Marcello’s overlooking the historic lighthouse in Port Isabel. Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits was recently written up in Texas Monthly magazine as the new trending restaurant for dinner and brunch in the South Padre Island area.