Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread: Test 1

This was my first attempt at this luxurious cake. I tried hard not to change the procedure described in the source recipe and it paid off. This sticky, gooey mound of sugar coated dough lumps it like heaven on earth. Give it a try too and you won’t regret it!
Active Time1 hour
Cook Time35 minutes
Rising time1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 day 3 hours
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Standing mixer
  • 12 cup bunt pan
  • 2 small mixing bowl

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 g yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup ground pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 113g, melted

Instructions

Pumpkin Bread

  • In a standing mixer I combined 1 cup of flour, yeast, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. I mixed these together with the paddle until blended.
  • In the meantime, I added the water and butter into a small microwave proof bowl and microwaved until the butter was fully melted. This took roughly a minute on high. Unfortunately, when I was done the water/fat mix was too hot to add to the yeast so I waited till it cooled. You want it between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine was at 126 degrees. I totally screwed up on this by the way, because my brain forgot what 4 vs 2 looks like and I used only 2 Tbsps of butter instead of the 4 suggested in the source recipe.
  • Once the water and butter were at a non-lethal temperature, I added it to the flour mixture along with the pumpkin puree, egg, and sugar and let it mix with the paddle for 3 minutes.
  • At this point I switched to the dough hook attachment and started adding flour bit by bit until the dough no longer stuck to the bowl at all. This was 2 1/2 cups for me on top of the first cup added in step 1.
  • The dough was then removed from the standing mixer bowl and gently turned into a ball and added to a large well oiled bowl to rise for 60-90 minutes. I think I was on the longer side for mine but honestly, I started cleaning things and just looked over form time to time to see if it had doubled in size yet. I should also note that my house, even in the middle of winter was a lovely 73 degrees Fahrenheit and dough does rise well on my counter. If you live like a student and your home is chilly, consider putting the dough into your oven with the heat turned off but the oven light turned on. One more aside before we move on, when I took the dough out of the mixer bowl it was still a pretty wet dough. It was borderline sticky. The oil from the bowl helped me and the dough remain separate entities.

Glaze

  • The glaze was made by just adding the brown sugar to the melted butter and whisking until incorporated. It’s really that simple and it will look for a while like these two will never come together but just keep going. This is a pretty good general rule in baking. If someone tells you to do something and it looks wrong, try mixing way longer!
  • Finally I just added some chopped pecans, maybe even a lot of chopped pecans. This turned out to be very, very important because these beautiful pecans get a nice candy coating and became beautifully crunchy. Can’t go wrong with candied pecans guys.

Assembly

  • Ok, so this is where it got long and a little tedious if you’re obsessive like me. I needed to take that lovely bread dough and divide it into 64 pieces. I like to weigh the whole dough and then divide it on a calculator and then weigh out each piece to the size I need. I did warn you about the tediousness. The shorter method is to just divide the dough in two, 6 times but then it won’t be perfect.
  • In a small bowl, I mixed the coating ingredients sans butter.
  • In another small bowl I melted the butter.
  • Finally, this is where it got exciting again. I sprayed my bundt pan down with some baking PAM because I’m lazy and unwary of scary chemicals. You can definitely choose to coat it in butter or do whatever you do to keep thing from sticking to the pan.
  • I took half of my glaze with those pecan gems and poured it into the pan in a nice little layer.
  • Next, I grabbed my precisely weighed dough morsels and dipped them into that butter before tossing in the sugar-spice mixture. Then each coated dough nugget was placed in the bundt pan in evenly around.
  • Once all of the dough has been used up and your pan is full of little dough balls, the rest of that glaze was poured on top. The dough was covered with plastic wrap with enough space for the expected rise but tight enough that the dough didn’t dry out.
  • At last, the raw cake was thrown into the fridge to rise slowly overnight.

Baking

  • After a long day the previous day, I loved how easy the next day was. The cake was removed from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. All in all it probably sat on my counter for 2-3 hours. Around 3 hours I realized it’s not going to rise anymore (might not be so great) and I chose to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cake was baked for 35 minutes and then removed to cool

Results

I know, I know I just gave you so many notes in the recipe but I have some more things to confess. After I baked this thing, I turned it out for photos and then resisted eating it somehow, put it back in the pan, covered it, and threw it in the fridge for another 24 hours. Yes, I am apparently capable of self control. Hear me out though, this was meant for a friendsgiving party so what could I do? Before eating I warmed it up in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes before turning it out on a plate and letting people at it. 
So what was the final result?
Guys, this cake lived through the night ONLY because everyone was so crazy full from dinner, but it was picked at for many hours into the night with lots of love. It come out gooey, glossy, warm, tender, and those pecans…you heard about them already for good reason. Down side, the bread dried out a bit but I’m not sure if that’s because of the butter mixup or the reheating. I guess I’ll just have to try this recipe again. Woe is me!

References

https://www.barbarabakes.com/overnight-pumpkin-monkey-bread-with-maple-cream-cheese-icing/

Parent Notebook

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread

Introduction

You know this recipe is good just by how many words are in the title. Monkey bread is generally just chunks of bread stacked together in a pan and baked to create a pull-apart cake. To me, monkey bread is also gooey, delicate, and luxurious. You know it’s luxurious by how much butter coats this thing.

Experimental Findings

What do you mean by “how much butter coats this thing”?

I’m going to come clean, this monkey bread is very tasty but what makes it so good is that it has a full 2 sticks of butter and nearly 2 1/2 cups of sugar. Worth it!

How was the bread itself?

It was good but not great. Test 1 wasn’t as tender as I would have liked. This could be due to insufficient butter in the dough or maybe because I reheated it 24 hours after baking before I ever got to taste it. I will just have to try this one out again.

Tests

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Monkey Bread: Test 1 – A luxurious addition to my waistline

Rum Babas: Test 2

After the mishaps with the previous test, I chose to keep this one simple and just let the rum shine through without any spices or additives. This resulted in a much gentler and more pleasing flavor.
Cook Time2 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 small cakes

Equipment

  • Medium bowl
  • Rubber spatula
  • 3 Tbsp cookie scoop
  • Mini bunt pan with 12 wells
  • Sauce pan

Ingredients

For the Babas

  • 220 g bread flour
  • 7 g dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 100 g butter, softened

For the Rum Syrup

  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 200 g water
  • 220 g granulated sugar

Instructions

For the Babas

  • The flour and sugar were combined in the bowl of a standing mixer along with the salt and yeast, added on opposite sides of the bowl to avoid too much direct contact. I am not sure if this is really significant but some people say that salt can retard the yeast’s activity and so avoiding direct contact is good. I have never seen this to be a problem with dry yeast personally. The ingredients were then mixed together.
  • In a separate bowl, the milk and eggs were whisked until homogeneous.
  • The egg mixture was added to the flour mixture and combined using a dough hook on medium low speed. This dough was very sticky and so lent itself better to mixing with the dough hook than by hand. I allowed to mixer to run for 10 minutes until the dough looked smooth and elastic.
  • I added the butter to the dough with the mixer running and let the mixer knead the dough until smooth and shiny again.
  • The dough left to rise for an hour and a half until doubled in size.
  • The oven was heated to 350°F
  • Once risen, the dough was mixed again to release the air and divided into the mini bunt cake molds. My mold holds 12 individual bunts. These are quite small. Each can hold about 3 Tablespoons of batter. A 3 Tbsp scoop is very useful here and dividing the dough with a scoop means the cakes are more even and have fewer seams where the dough meets. If you make multiple additions into each cake well, you end up with seams where the dough doesn’t quite adhere to itself.
  • Once doled out, the dough was allow to rise again until molds were filled nearly to the top.
  • They were bake for 20 minutes.

For the Rum Syrup

  • While the babas were baking, all of the ingredients were added to a small pot and brought to a rolling boil.
  • The syrup was then cooled to room temperature. When it snows here, placing the syrup in the snow really speeds up this process. Think outside the box (house)!

Assembly

  • When everything is cooled and ready to be assembled, I aided the syrup penetration by pricking the bottoms of the cakes with a fork and then letting the cakes absorb half of the syrup before flipping and repeating. I let my cakes then strain on a cooling rack for an hour before packaging them away until ready to serve.
  • You can top these cakes as you please when serving. Options include whipped cream and fruit or just fruit compote. There are nearly endless possibilities here but I opted for simple whipped cream and some canned and fresh peaches with a sprig of mint.

Results

These babas were lovely. The yeast was able to shine through the syrup because it wasn’t overloaded with flavors and the rum was able to make itself noticed. All in all, no one can say “tastes like wet gingerbread” about these lovelies. 

References

Rum babas

Parent Notebook

Rum Baba

Rum Baba

Introduction

The rum baba is a delicate yeast based cake soaked in a rum syrup. I’ve also heard them called Sabrina cakes or sometimes called a Savarin cake depending on the shape. Savarin is shaped like a bundt cake while a baba is shaped like individual little buckets though I’ve seen them as small rings as well. For mine, I like to make them into individual little bunts as they’re beautiful especially when served with fresh whipped cream and some fruit.

Experimental Findings

How am I supposed to knead this very sticky, very hard to handle dough?

You’re supposed to either do it in a standing mixer or get very sticky my your hands. Yes, seriously.

What’s the verdict?

The best description I got of my first test was that it tasted like a wet ginger cake. This is not what a rum cake should ever taste like. So skip the spices, keep it simple.

Any other tips?

Yes! Firstly, it would be easier if you make double the syrup in test 2. You need to really really soak these babies. Second, don’t wait too long to soak them and don’t have them sitting around the fridge too long before serving. They’re best when freshly soaked.

Tests

Rum Baba: Test 1 – Wet ginger cake
Rum Baba: Test 2 – Delicious rum cake

Kiev Tort

Introduction

This cake is referenced as being a more traditional version. It is comprised of two meringue layers only, without any sponge cake in between. The meringue, when dried properly, is crisp but not teeth shattering. Light and airy, this cake makes a great end of meal dessert. The buttercream here is also heavy in egg yolks which makes it rich, flavorful, and more delicate.

Experimental Findings

Do I really need to age the eggs overnight?

Not really. I have done this recipe both ways and had no issue with getting the egg whites to whip into very stiff glossy peaks. Will it help if you’re running into meringue issue? Maybe.

Golly gee, that’s a lot of sugar!

Don’t over think it. This is the perfect amount for this cake. Meringue baby!

Tests

Kiev Tort: Test 1 – Already pretty perfect

Jewish Honey Cake: Test 3

This test and Test 2 were done simultaneously to better compare the effects of switching out coffee for tea. This test focuses on the combination of cloves and allspice as well as the original coffee. For me, this is the ideal honey cake.
Active Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 9″ x 5″ loaf pans

Equipment

  • 12-cup bundt pan or two 13″ x 9″ loaf pans
  • PAM baking spray
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Medium bowl

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of one orange diluted to 1/2 cup
  • 2 Tbsps instant espresso
  • 1 cup boiling water

Instructions

  • I preheated the oven 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves were sifted together.
  • I prepared my coffee by mixing the espresso powder with 1 cup of boiling water. I still think this is a better option than normal coffee or even fresh brewed espresso because the powdered espresso lacks the acidity of the fresh coffee options.
  • In a separate bowl, I mixed together the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice.
  • The wet mixture was added to the dry, mixing slowly from the center to incorporate the flour without lumps. This resulted in quite a thin batter. Do not let this scare you, it’s completely fine.
  • I chose to use 2 loaf pans but a bunt cake pan would work well here as well. I greased my load pans with PAM baking spray and divided the batter between the two pans evenly.
  • The cakes were baked for roughly 60 minutes and checked with a knife to make sure the center was done baking. The knife should come out clean and the cake should not be overly wiggly.
  • (Optional) In previous tests I found that the cake had a crust I didn’t care for. This was easily fixed by allowing the cake to sit in a sealed container while cooling.

Results

This was the best result. It had all the elements I wanted. It was deeply spiced and rich. The honey still came through, though, and the whole cake was moist, lovely, and surprisingly delicate. Compared with Test 2, the coffee gave this cake a deeper, darker flavor which I want for a fall treat and when comparing to Test 1, the cloves being cut with allspice took care of the cloves over-dominating the cake.

References

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/219008/moist-holiday-honeycake/

Parent Notebook

Honey Jewish Cake

Jewish Honey Cake: Test 2

In Test 1, the cloves were somewhat overpowering. In this test I hoped to bring that flavor down a bit by diluting the cloves with some allspice. The results show a significant improvement in flavor profile. I also wanted to see what impact switching out the tea would have. This, Test 2, and Test 3 were done at the same time to compare results.
Active Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 9″ x 5″ loaf pans

Equipment

  • 12-cup bundt pan or two 5″ x 9″ loaf pans
  • PAM baking spray
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Medium bowl

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of one orange diluted to 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup strong brewed tea

Instructions

  • I preheated the oven 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves were sifted together.
  • In a separate medium bowl, I mixed together the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea, and orange juice.
  • The wet mixture was added to the dry, mixing slowly from the center to incorporate the flour without lumps. This resulted in quite a thin batter. Do not let this scare you, it’s completely fine.
  • I chose to use 2 loaf pans but a bunt cake pan would work well here as well. I greased my loaf pans with PAM baking spray and divided the batter between the two pans evenly.
  • The cakes were baked for roughly 60 minutes and checked with a knife to make sure the center was done baking. The knife should come out clean and the cake should not be overly wiggly.

Results

Cutting the cloves with all spice worked like a charm. The spices are well balanced now. The addition of tea instead of the coffee was more significant than I expected. It brought a good amount of brightness to the recipe. The tea is not a bad way to go but I think I would prefer the depth and richness of the coffee flavor in this recipe. I also didn’t really like the crust that this cake developed while baking. Some tasters disagreed but for me, cake loaves should not have a crust.

References

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/219008/moist-holiday-honeycake/

Parent Notebook

Honey Jewish Cake

Jewish Honey Cake

Introduction

This is the honey cake I grew up with as a child in Israel. Sweet, moist, and heavily spiced. Great autumn bake and compliments the apple season nicely for the Jewish New Year.

Experimental Findings

So which test yielded the best cake?

I preferred the cake with both cloves and all spice as well as the coffee rather than the tea. The cloves on their own were somewhat overpowering so cutting them with all spice is a good idea. The coffee versus tea question is trickier. I personally feel that the coffee gives a deeper, richer flavor which is what I want from this cake. That said, the tea bring some brightness which is pleasant in its own right.

What about the alcohol mentioned in the source recipe?

I chose to omit it at the time because I just didn’t have any in the house. I suspect it would be delicious and it would be worth it to give it a shot. Maybe test 4 will look into that

Tests

Jewish Honey Cake: Test 1 – Cloves and Coffee
Jewish Honey Cake: Test 2 – Cloves, Allspice, and Tea
Jewish Honey Cake: Test 3 – Cloves, Allspice and Coffee

Jewish Honey Cake: Test 1

Nothing screams fall to me like this Jewish honey cake. I followed this recipe to a “t” and it was pretty near perfection.
Active Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 2 9″ x 5″ loaves

Equipment

  • 12-cup bundt pan or two 9″x5″ loaf pans
  • PAM baking spray
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Medium mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 orange, diluted to ½ cup with water
  • 2 Tbsps instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water

Instructions

  • I preheated the oven 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves were sifted together.
  • I prepared the coffee by mixing the espresso powder with 1 cup of boiling water. I think this is a better option than normal coffee or even fresh brewed espresso because the powdered espresso lacks the acidity of the fresh coffee options.
  • In a separate bowl, I mixed together the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice.
  • The wet mixture was added to the dry, mixing slowly from the center to incorporate the flour without lumps. This resulted in quite a thin batter. Do not let this scare you, it’s completely fine.
  • I chose to use 2 loaf pans but a bunt cake pan would work well here as well. I greased my load pans with PAM baking spray and divided the batter between the two pans evenly.
  • The cakes were baked for roughly 60 minutes and checked with a knife to make sure the center was done baking. The knife should come out clean and the cake should not be overly wiggly.

Results

This cake was delicious for sure but at first bite it felt like the cloves were overpowering. This intense clove flavor mellowed out by the second bite as my mouth adjusted but I would prefer to cut the cloves with some allspice to reduce that bite in the next test.

References

Parent Notebook

Honey Jewish Cake

Kiev Tort: Test 1

This is a crisp, melt in your mouth, boozy cake. Definitely one of my favorites! I didn’t make too many changes on this first test from the reference and I do encourage you to go read the original. She’s one funny lady!
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time1 day 3 hours
Print Recipe
Yield: 1 9″ cake

Equipment

  • 2 9″ spring-form pans
  • Standing mixer
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Sauce pan
  • Cooling rack
  • Parchment paper (9″ rounds)
  • PAM for baking

Ingredients

For the Meringue cake

  • 12 large egg whites
  • cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb hazelnuts

For the Buttercream

  • 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cups whole milk
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tabsps cognac

Instructions

For the Meringue Cake

  • I toasted all the hazelnuts in the oven at 350 degrees F for roughly 20 minutes. They were then removed them from the oven and allowed to steam in a towel for another 15 minutes. The skins were rubbed off as much as possible using the same towel. Yes you will have some skin stick but who cares! Hazelnuts were coarsely chopped reserving a few for decoration.
  • Two 9″ round pans were greased with PAM, lined with the parchment paper rounds and greased again. I would try butter next time as the PAM actually ended up burning. It didn’t hurt the cake too much but it made me uncomfortable to know that the edges of my cake were darker than ideal.
  • In the standing mixer, I whipped the egg whites until foamy and slowly added the half cup of sugar while continuing to whip. Then came the vanilla and the eggs were whipped to very stiff and glossy peaks.
  • While the eggs were whipping, I mixed together the remaining 2 cups of sugar, flour, and 1.5 cups chopped hazelnuts in a medium bowl.
  • Once the egg whites were ready, they were gently but thoroughly fold into the dry mixture.
  • The batter was divided evenly between the two pans and baked at 350°F for 2 ½ hours, checking periodically to see that it’s not browning too much. Seriously, I really mean it. 2 ½ hours is the requirement. You shall bake for 2 ½ hours. 2 ½ hours is the length of your baking. In the meantime you can make the buttercream and clean up the mess you just made.
  • When done, cakes were removed from the pans and cooled fully on cooling racks, overnight, under a towel is best.

For the Buttercream

  • This recipe needs to cool for a while so I highly recommend doing it on the same day as the cake baking and refrigerating overnight.
  • Milk and sugar were added to a sauce pan and heated until the milk is scalded but not boiling as it may burn the milk.
  • While the milk was heating, in a separate bowl, I whisked the yolks until quite stiff and light yellow.
  • Half of the milk was poured into the yolks slowly while continuing to whisk the eggs. Then the egg yolk mixture was added back into the remaining milk and place back on the heat.
  • The eggs and milk were cooked, stirring constantly, until the custard thickened.
  • The custard was removed from the heat, strained to remove any potential lumps, and allowed to fully cool to room temperature. Ok now you can go to bed. This was the important part, now it’s cooling. It will wait for you to wake up tomorrow.
  • I confess, I didn’t go to bed. It was winter and I took my bowl of custard and lovingly embedded it in the snow outside. By the time my kitchen was clean, the custard was cool enough and butter was added a little at a time and mixed in my standing mixer until fully incorporated, then the vanilla and cognac were added. The cocoa is left for later, do not add it in at this point. We’ll come back to it during assembly.

Assembly

  • I placed a small dollop of buttercream on a cake board and place the first meringue cake right side up over the dollop. The buttercream helps the cake stay put on the board.
  • A generous layer of the buttercream was spread over the first cake layer and the second cake layer was placed upside down over the cream. Be sure your buttercream reaches all the way to the edges of your cake. When the second layer was placed I added a little more cream along the seam and smoothed it to the sides of the cake.
  • I kept the cake in the fridge while I prepare the chocolate buttercream. A small portion of the buttercream was reserved for decoration. To the rest, I added the cocoa (see I didn’t forget it) and whipped until smooth, dark, and even.
  • Once the cream was ready, the cake was retrieved from the fridge and coated the whole cake in the cocoa buttercream. Decorate as desired. I used the remaining hazelnuts to coat the sides and a few whole nuts as the base for flowers and other decoration.

Results

I don’t say this often but this cake is incredible and I would change nothing. It is crisp but light, the buttercream doesn’t feel like eating a stick of butter, and the whole experience is pleasantly boozy. What more could I want from a cake?
If you haven’t read the original version of this recipe, I highly recommend you give it a read. I have rarely come across a recipe that was funnier or more uplifting. Check out the source section for a link.

References

Parent Notebook

Kiev Tort