Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins

Are you having a bad day today? I really hope not.

But, since I've always got your back, I made Apple Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins just in case you are.

Freshly. Baked. Bread. Find me someone who can resist it and I will pay you $2000.

Ok, not true.

BUT - I will bet my best muffin pan on it.

These Apple Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins can turn anyone's frown upside down. I'm talking about slightly sweet, soft bread dough loaded with cinnamon and nutmeg and then basted with a buttery brown sugar topping and studded with diced apples.

Think of these as clusters of little pillow-y baked doughnuts held together by gooey spiced buttercotch. They're so much fun.

I hope you haven't made dinner plans because I'm afraid these might just take over. It's bread, so it's ok right? Yes.

You've probably noticed that I let the dough rise twice. Now, you might just think I like to torture myself by building up anticipation, but I deserve more credit than that...

The second rise is necessary for flavour development. You can wait an extra 30 minutes for flavour right? Do some bicep curls, read a few pages from the Gourmet cookbook, organize your sock drawer, call your mom (she'll appreciate it) or just sit down with a glass of wine.

Yeast is a magical thing. The longer you let it live, the more it will reward you. During the process of fermentation, yeasts produce all sorts of desirable flavour compounds, such as fruity esters and higher alcohols. A general rule is that the longer dough is allowed to rise, the better the flaovur of the finished bread.

"Punching down" and handling the dough after the first rise serves to divide the gas bubbles, redistribute yeast cells and even out the temperature of the dough. During the second rise, the gluten has a chance to relax a bit, which also makes the dough easier to manipulate.

But hold on just a second...there are different types of dry yeast. True.

Active dry yeast are fresh yeast cells that have been dried into granules with a protective coating to make them dormant. This type needs to be hydrated in warm water (110 degrees F) for at least 10 minutes in order to become activated. If the water temperature is too hot, the yeast die and if the water is too cool, the yeast fails to activate. A thick foamy layer at the surface of the water/yeast mixture s a good indication that the yeast is sufficiently activated.

Instant dry yeast are a smaller form of active dry yeast. Due to their smaller size they have a larger surface area and can take up water more readily than granules. Hence, they do not necessarily require hydration before use.

If all you have is active dry yeast, you can still make these lovely muffins. I would suggest increasing the amount by 1/2 to 1 teaspoon and let it stand in the warm water about 15 minutes before continuing with the recipe.

Much love,
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