Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Memories and Monkey Bread


   The yeasty scent fills the farmhouse kitchen as my hands work in repetitive motions to knead the mass into a soft, elastic ball. My mind wanders over years and years of dough. Funny how routine things spark our hearts; little, flour dusted children on tip-toes at the counter- eager to share the work (and the results). 
   Bread making has been in my family for generations- we love it. When my children were born I wanted to pass on this beautiful life skill. From the time my little ones could sit on the kitchen counter they became helping hands in every kitchen task...but a long time favorite has always been making bread.
   My oldest farm girl was just a tot when the love of breads sparked in her. One of her early favorites is fondly known around here as Monkey Bread (or Pluck-it/Pull Apart bread). Easy for little hands to help with, this sweet treat is simple and delicious.
    Using our favorite challah recipe (any bread dough works wonderfully- white or wheat is fine), I set up a small dish of melted butter and a small dish of cinnamon sugar mixture. My dough can divide into two loaves, so I make one loaf and one pan of Monkey bread. We simply make walnut size balls of dough, roll them in the butter then the cinnamon sugar mixture and drop them into a well oiled 8" round cake pan (a bunt or loaf works fine- really any pan will do); giving them a little space and layering them on top each other in a lackadaisical way. We let them rise alongside the other loaf; baking in the same temp and time. No one in the house can wait for it to cool down before plucking tasty, butter/sugar sweet lumps from the pan!
   It has been years since this bread was made in this house; my little farm girl is so grown with a busy schedule all her own. Yesterday I surprised her with a taste of the past. Her smile so big as she recalled the beloved memories we use to make this together! Indeed, we did. Cinnamon sweetness drove to linger with me a moment; together at the table sharing memories of little aprons and "magic spoons". We told the story again and again until she had to leave for work. Even as she drove away, the sweet smile lingered on her face; the joyful result of memories and monkey bread....it's a good thing.



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