Ladies and gentlemen, it is with EMBARRASSINGLY IMMENSE pleasure, that I introduce you to Stella. Stella the Stand Mixer, that is. AKA…the new love of my life. (What…did you think I meant an actual love? HAH.) Now, I’ve always assumed that one reason people get married is to be able to register for a stand mixer. Love, commitment and all that blah blah blah are probably a big part of it too… but the stand mixer must be pretty high up there on the list of pros. Well, until recently, I’ve been nowhere near marriage, and therefore nowhere near getting a stand mixer. That was until I finally counted all of the tip money I had been saving from the bakery since my first day in January. Four hundred dollars exactly. An internet search or ten and a Target discount later, I finally bought my beautiful Stella. (I also bought a sibling ice cream maker for her so she wouldn’t be lonely. More on him next week…let me know your suggestions for names in the comments below!)
As I reviewed my initial bucket list of projects, I knew that Stella’s first use had to be special. I mean, I couldn’t disappoint her during her first job in my kitchen. What kind of owner would I be? I figured I would work with dough, because having struggled making it with a hand mixer in the past, I knew that using Stella could only help me up my game. So, monkey bread it was! Not just any monkey bread though. Salted Caramel Apple Stuffed Monkey Bread, all homemade, no cans of dough or pre-made sauces whatsoever.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Uh, Erin, don’t you know that it’s summer and not fall?”. Go ahead, call me crazy. Of course, I know it’s summer and not fall. And yes, I know that I should be using berries instead of apples. Do I care? Not one bit. Because this is my blog damn it! Plus, is there really a bad time for a caramel covered apple bread-y dessert? That was a rhetorical question. For the record, there definitely is not.
On to the recipe! For this one, I kind of hodge-podged a bunch of elements I (kind of) knew how to make, together. Not necessarily because I was looking to get into the recipe writing business, but because I couldn’t really find anything out there that fit what I was looking to make. There are a lot of recipes that ask bakers to layer apple pie filling with the balls of unbaked dough in your bundt pan, but I wanted to the dough balls themselves to be stuffed with the apples. Like a bunch of little apple fritters! For a while, I worried that the lack of recipes out there meant this variation of monkey bread isn’t a thing that works…but oh well, I decided to make it a thing myself. The dough itself is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and the rest was an experiment.
The part I was most nervous about was proofing the dough. Everywhere you look, every person in the world seems to have a different method they use to proof dough. A different time, a different temperature, a different location in the house. After doing as much reading as my summer-mode brain could handle, I picked a method that seemed like a combination of what everyone else was doing, and tried it out. And while doing what all the other cool kids are doing doesn’t always work out, luckily, this time it did! The full recipe for all of what you’re going to read next, by the way, is at the bottom!
Let’s get started! Surprisingly, the dough was relatively easy to make. It really only involved dissolving the yeast, and then adding that mixture to all of your other wet ingredients and about half of the flour. Stella mixed those guys together until a soft dough formed, at which point, I added the rest of the flour and changed to my dough hook attachment. Here’s a tip for you: grease your dough hook before you use it. It’ll prevent the whole lot of dough from glueing itself to the mixer. I used the hook for about 3 minutes until the dough was uniform, and then took the ball out and kneaded it by hand on my floured counter for another 2 minutes. Put that puppy in a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 8 hours. It’ll double in size.
Throughout the day, I made the other components. First was the caramel, which was also super easy. Easy, but dear God, it was a patience tester. Essentially, you’re melting sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat for the majority of the process. For about 10 minutes, you’ll stand there telling yourself “patience Grasshopper” or whatever Mr. Miyagi said, as you stir the sand looking substance around. Eventually, it will form clumps and melt down into a brown liquid. (It probably would have been a little more entertaining if I had imagined Ellen there with me telling me to just keep stirring instead of creepy Mr. Miyagi, but there’s always next time.) Anyways, once it’s melted, add your butter and melt that down as well. About three minutes later, slowly add the cream. It’s going to sputter and act real mad, but don’t listen to it. Keeeep goinggggg. Let that mixture cook for about a minute without mixing, remove it from the heat and add the vanilla and salt. Ta Da!
Next up, apple filling! I won’t bore you with this part, just mix all that stuff together.
Once you’ve made the filling, made your caramel, melted your butter, and mixed your coating, you’re ready to assemble! This next step is the best part. Take your dough out of the fridge, and then gather your thoughts on something that’s been bothering you lately. Once you’ve gathered them, punch the dough down and release that frustration! Really….this is just to redistribute the air back into the dough, but personally, I think it’s a good reason to use a temporary punching bag as well. Once you’ve put your inner Rocky to rest, split the dough into about 35-40 pieces that are about 2 inches in diameter. Place them on a piece of parchment paper and let them rest for about 15 minutes while they come back down to room temperature.
After the dough has warmed up, take a ball of dough, and flatten it in your hand. Scoop about a half a teaspoon of apple filling into the middle and fold it up like a little hand pie. Dunk it into that melty butter and roll the little guy around in the sugar mixture, not being too stingy. Place him in the bundt pan and repeat…35-40 times.
Once you’ve put all the balls into the pan, drizzle half of your caramel over the top. As the bread rises in the oven, that liquid gold will distribute itself into all the little nooks and crannies.
Bake the bread in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Mine took 27, but my oven is just too hot for it’s own good. After taking the bread out, have a little patience and wait 5-10 minutes before inverting it onto a plate and pouring the rest of the caramel over the top.
And, there you have it, Salted Caramel Apple Stuffed Monkey Bread. I’ll have to come up with a shorter name for it later…like “The Epitome of Fall, On a Plate”. Except, in the Summer…
By the way, if you’re interested in making the recipe but saving a few hours, just use 1.5 – 2 cans of Pillsbury biscuit dough and quarter each biscuit. Then you can continue on using the rest of this recipe.
Next time, I’ll be putting my other new friend, the ice cream machine, to work. I’ve got two varieties I’m dying to try, so let’s face it, there will probably be two featured on next week’s post. Because, like I said, this is my blog damn it! Don’t forget, name suggestions go below!