Say wha?! Yep, vegan salted caramel monkey bread. If you’ve been following my blog for long, you won’t be shocked to hear that this is also oil-free, refined sugar-free, whole grain, and made without processed ingredients like margarine.
My week was a bit crazy and we didn’t do much cooking, so that’s why I’m just now returning with a new post… I ate leftover roasted garlic white bean stew from the freezer, another can of Meatless Select Chili, lots of unremarkable spinach salads… but it’s finally the three-day weekend I’ve been dreaming of for the past fortnight (since my last day off). And I have to apologize to those who can’t eat gluten because there are two yeast bread recipes coming your way in the next few days.
But! I also worked out a great gluten-free doughnut recipe that I’m going to be making again ASAP, and I have a tasty broccoli dish to share, too. So hopefully all will be forgiven. Those will get done as soon as we finish eating all of the salted caramel monkey bread. Lol, just kidding, it’s pretty far gone already.
You know I can’t lie to you. Whole grain dough is and always will be a pain in the butt to work with – especially for biscuit-style doughs like this, where it needs to be tacky. Whole grain flours require more moisture than all-purpose flour, and you have to be careful when kneading not to work too much extra into the dough. So I can’t exactly say that this is the easiest recipe in the world. But considering it’s monkey bread that doesn’t tie my stomach up in knots or render me un-hungry for the next 48 hours, I’m pretty satisfied with making it.
Brown rice syrup is great in this because the stickiness helps coat each and every piece of dough with cinnamon goodness. But it’s a rather expensive ingredient, one I was lucky enough to snag with a nice coupon and have been using sparingly to make it go far. Luckily, you don’t need a whole ton of it for the recipe. As for the leftover, I use it anywhere honey would typically be used, or in savory dishes that need a bit of sweetness.
Now, this isn’t technically a caramel in the classic, candymaking sense. No thermometers or fussy cooking processes are involved. I’ve never been in the purist camp when it comes to anything, really, and considering the other steps already needed for the monkey bread, I’ll take this easy (and just as tasty!) “caramel” sauce any day. Nevertheless, your favorite caramel sauce recipe would work just fine in place of the one I provide here. I’m thinking a coconut-based one could actually be rather delicious.
This recipe is on the long side, but hopefully all of the extra advice will be helpful. And please, if anything needs clarification, let me know. Happy feasting
- 1/3 c. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk, warmed to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- 1 tb. maple syrup
- 1 scant tb. active dry yeast (one packet)
- 2 and 1/2 c. spelt flour (see notes for substitutions)
- 1 tb. vital wheat gluten flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tb. neutral oil (substitute more applesauce for oil-free version)
- 1/4 c. mashed ripe banana (about 1 banana)
- 3 tb unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1/4 c. pureed silken tofu
- additional flour for kneading (see notes)
- 1 tb. maple syrup
- 1 tb. unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3 tb. brown rice syrup
- 1 tb. maple syrup
- 2 tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 tb. unsalted almond butter (or substitute other nut butter)
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt (more to taste)
- Gently stir together the milk, maple syrup, and yeast and set aside for 10 minutes. Check that the mixture is frothy before using.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, gluten flour, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the oil (if using), applesauce, mashed banana, tofu, milk, and the yeast mixture from step 1.
- Stir together until a dough starts to form. Start to knead the dough together (you can do this inside the bowl, on a floured surface, or between your hands). Add more flour as needed to bring together and while kneading.
- Knead for 5-7 minutes or until gluten strands have formed. Place in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside in a warm place for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Prepare the dough coating mixture in a small bowl or plastic bag and a lightly greased loaf or bundt pan.
- One at a time, pinch off pieces of dough, rolling them into balls (you can choose the size - mine were golf ball-sized and I think I would make them a bit smaller next time) and then coating them lightly in the mixture. Try to coat the whole surface if you can. Place the balls into the prepared pan. They will likely not fill the entire thing pan now, but will continue to rise.
- When all of the dough has been used, cover the pan in a damp towel or plastic wrap and again, set in a warm place for at least 90 minutes until increased in size by at least 50% again, filling the pan that they are in.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put in the pan. I would recommend putting it on a baking sheet to catch drips. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, add the ingredients for the caramel sauce in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and whisk almost constantly as the mixture heats up. Once you see it starting to bubble around the sides, you can turn off the heat.
- Pull the monkey bread out of the oven and pour the caramel sauce over the top. Cover the entire thing in foil and return to the oven; bake for another 10-20 minutes (will vary depending on the size of your dough pieces), or until caramel sauce has thickened and bread is done all the way through.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.
The optional oil in the dough will make it a bit silkier, but isn't needed for the recipe to be successful. Pictured is the oil-free, all-applesauce version.
The amount of extra flour needed will vary depending on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen, as well as variations in measuring the flour to begin with. Just focus on keeping the dough as moist as you can and it should turn out fine.
I used a combination of all-purpose flour and brown rice flour for kneading and used about 1/2 cup total. I would recommend using one of these or another fine flour like oat flour for kneading - the wheat bran in whole wheat flour can cut up the gluten strands and make it more difficult for a moist dough like this to rise properly.
If you're using homemade nut butter, there might be little lumps in the caramel sauce (like in mine) - and that's totally fine.
Submitted to Yeastspotting. Nom nom nom! Happy weekend