One of the most timeless and enduring truths of food is the joy evoked by the sharing of it. The act of sharing adds an intangible value to food; where at first it might have nourished and comforted just one person, it effortlessly extends those life-affirming feelings to another by the merest, most humble action. For a short time, more than one soul is drawing from the very same pool of energy. Its all a wee bit magical. You can’t achieve that kind of magic with a $20 iTunes gift card, yo. But sometimes this ephemeral, wondrous element of the human experience has to be cast aside in favour of ensuring one’s own survival. Either that or you just really don’t wanna effing share.
This post is all about a food designed for sharing; the pull-apart loaf, also known for some bloody stupid reason as ‘monkey bread’. Some foods are good for sharing and some aren’t. For example, you can’t share a hotdog with grace and social nicety intact. You’ll look like a bit of a deviant trying to share a hotdog in public, but you could share this monkey bread with all the random passersby in your general vicinity and no one would have the urge to avert their eyes. It is perfect for being convivial and friendly. If you’re really going to deign to allow other people to encroach on your personal food supply without vehemently snarling that you’re going to punch them in the face if they don’t leave your goddamn food alone, this is one of the best ways to do it.
As demonstrated by my reluctant husband’s hands, you just pull it apart, then companionably sit with your fellow humans, simply enjoying their presence and soaking up the sheer joy of shared love. Either that or you grab as much as you can before anyone else does and race to a secluded and safe corner of the lounge where you can snarf down your food in peace without having to a) make eye contact with another sentient being and b) pause the episode of Orange is the New Black you’re streaming. Sometimes survival instincts take precedent over human decency.
Banana & Dulce de Leche Monkey Bread
- ½ Recipe Banana Bread Dough (or use a whole recipe and an extra large ring tin)
- 100g Condensed milk
- 1 Tbsp / 25g Golden syrup
- 20g Butter
- Start with your recipe of banana bread dough proved once, punched down and turned out onto the work surface.
- Take a ring tin and spray it with oil or grease it with butter.
- Pull the dough into small pieces. The pieces can be different sizes but should be no bigger than a ping pong ball to start with. These pieces will all rise until they are about doubled in size.
- Roll the pieces of dough into smooth balls.
- Place the pieces of dough in the ring tin, not being particularly careful about it or anything, but try to lay them out visualising that the base will be covered and form a complete ring by the time the dough has risen to double its size.
- Set the ring tin in a warm place to prove.
- Put the golden syrup and butter in a microwaveable jug or a small saucepan and melt them together.
- Add the condensed milk to the hot golden syrup and butter and mix together.
- Once the dough has begun to join together but still has some gaps in it, pour about half your condensed milk mixture down the gaps. When the dough has fully proved, pour the remainder over the whole loaf. Don’t worry about it sitting on top in big puddles; it will quickly seep down once it is in the oven and the top of the loaf will get a lovely caramelised glaze on top.
- Bake the loaf at 190°C, until the top is a dark golden brown. When you turn out the loaf, be careful of the hot dulce de leche, but it should have become thick and be holding to the bread. It’s best to let it cool for a bit upside down before you put it on a serving plate, because the hot dulce de leche will stick otherwise.
Serve your monkey bread while it is still warm and the dulce de leche is all gooey and sticky (and don’t forget to share it with others, I guess). I’ve been making this recipe in tandem with the Banana & Cinnamon Swirl Loaf because the dough recipe makes plenty.