We’re in the middle of Lent.
Hot Cross Buns are traditional and delicious.
But, after you’ve reached your mid-sixties, you’ve been through quite a few Lents.
And even a good recipe can get boring after eating it for more than sixty years.
Monkey bread is a different way to serve buns.
It isn’t very sweet, so it doesn’t seem like a non-Lent dessert.
And it’s always okay to have bread, even during the season of Lent.
At least that’s my opinion.
If you’d like even more variety, try these Monkey Bread variations:
You can also bake this in 2 9-inch spring form round pans or in 2 9x5-inch loaf pans.
If you’re in a rush, you can use 2 cans (340 g each) of refrigerated country biscuits.
Cut each biscuit into quarters, coat with spiced sugar and continue.
These balls don't need to rise before baking.
If you prefer nutmeg or allspice or a spice mix, substitute 2 Tablespoons of the spice of your choice for the cinnamon in the original recipe.
You can also sprinkle a cup of chocolate chips over the first layer of balls.
Or a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, or diced apples, or cranberries or raisins.
For a bit of a surprise, you could put a spoon of apricot or raspberry jam in each ball.
If you want to have this recipe for breakfast the next day it’s easy.
After you have placed the small balls in the pan, wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning take the pan out and let the dough finish rising before baking.
For an icing that can also be a dipping sauce you can combine in a small bowl
1/4 Cup cream cheese
1/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
You can also drizzle the icing over the cake.
Or you could use a caramel sauce as an icing.
If you don't want the icing, skip it.
You could also put the icing in a bowl and let the kids dip their balls in it.
A dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving is pretty and quick.
Grease a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.
Place the oven rack in the medium low position.
In a medium bowl combine
3 1/4 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl mix together
1 Cup milk, warm (around 110º F)
1/3 Cup water, warm (around 110º F)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 Cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Gradually stir the flour / salt into the liquid ingredients.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl.
Rotate the dough around to grease all of the surfaces.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The dough should be doubled in size.
On a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into about 60 pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball.
Cinnamon Monkey Bread
Combine in a medium bowl
3/4 Cup granulated or brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
Melt in a small pot
1/4 Cup butter
Place batches of the balls in the sugar / spice mixture.
Toss to coat.
Place half of the balls in the prepared 10-inch tube pan.
Drizzle with half of the melted butter.
Repeat with the remaining balls.
Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon sugar over the top of the balls (optional)
Cover the pan with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The balls should be doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350º F
Bake 30 - 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Remove them from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a large platter.
While the cake is cooling, combine in a small bowl
!/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice or water (more or less)
Sprinkle over the top of the cakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted pecans or walnuts or almonds
About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:
On March 8 there’s a New Moon at 8:54 p.m. It’s completely invisible.
There will also be a Total Solar Eclipse, but for most of you this isn’t important.
To see it you’ll have to be in Indonesia, which is west of the International Date Line, where the calendar date is March 9.
So the eclipse begins on the day after it ends.
Be warned - do not look at the eclipse. You could go blind.
Also on March 8, Jupiter is opposite to the Sun in our sky.
So, Jupiter rises around the time the Sun sets, and shines at its highest about midnight and sets around sunrise.
Jupiter is also at its closest to the Earth for the year, and will appear at its biggest and brightest. Look for it in the east as the blue sky darkens.
Jupiter burns at magnitude -2.5, nearly three times as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
You can safely look at Jupiter all you want.