Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

Growing up, in eighth grade, we all had to take home economics. It was a mix of about 20 girls and 15 boys. I remember making party foods that were staples in the 1950s: ambrosia salad, Swedish meatballs -- and monkey bread. I got my first taste of cooking with others (besides my mom) and I loved it.

If memory serves me right, the monkey bread was not made from scratch (shocking, I know). I believe we used biscuit dough from a can or something like that. Little did we all know: you can have homemade monkey bread (pull apart bread) in no time using a bread machine. No artificial or gross ingredients.

I like this recipe because the pumpkin serves as the "pull apart" material. While the cinnamon and sugar "glue" the bread together, the pumpkin kind of repels that glue. That's what makes this recipe different than cinnamon rolls. And, although I'm hesitant to confess it, I enjoyed this recipe much more than my cinnamon roll recipes.

If you have some pumpkin leftover from other recipes -- maybe from these Cookie Bars or these Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles -- use it here. As I mentioned before, this recipe utilizes a bread machine -- it's simple, fast, and no-fuss. When I was at Goodwill a few months ago, I saw three bread machines sitting on the shelves, each for less than $10! I highly recommend investing in one.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread (Pull Apart Bread)
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

For the bread machine:
3/4 c. almond milk
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 of a pureed banana (ripe)
1 T. vanilla-infused bourbon (learn about making your own!)
3 T. organic non-hydrogenated shortening, like Spectrum
2 T. organic cane sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 c. flour (bread flour and whole wheat flour blend)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast

For the filling:
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
3 T. organic non-hydrogenated shortening, like Spectrum
3/4 c. coconut sugar
1 T. cinnamon

Load your bread machine as directed by the manufacturer. (For mine, I’m supposed to load it with the liquid ingredients first, then dry, followed by the flour and yeast last. I listed the ingredients in the order that I would put them in.)

Once it’s loaded, plug it in and set it to the “dough” setting. Sit back and relax! If you're itching for something to do, combine your spices and sugars in a bowl for the filling: pumpkin, coconut sugar, shortening, and cinnamon. Set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 8x8 pan with coconut oil or additional shortening. You could also use two loaf pans.

Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface. Once the bread machine is through its cycle, take the dough out and pat it down so the dough is covered in flour.  (If the dough is too tacky, you may have to roll it around in some flour for a few minutes so it can be handled.) Roll it out to about 1/2 inch in thickness.

Spread your filling over the flat dough. With a sharp knife, cut roughly seven or eight rectangles into the dough.

After you've cut them, stack each one on top of the other. Then slice them again at least six more times -- I know, it's a lot of cutting!

Lay the dough into the pan -- with the sides facing up. You want to be able to see the layers. As a side note, not all of my pieces laid perfectly on their sides, but I took a picture for you to get the idea ;-)

Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil and allow it to rise somewhere warm for about 30 minutes.

Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, less if you are using the loaf pans. Once the bread comes out of the oven and cools slightly, you can take it out of the pan and flip it. You should have beautiful, zebra-like stripes on the bottom of your bread!

I split my bread in half (so it looks more like a loaf) and shared it with a neighbor. Make sure that you eat it warm! You can mix some powdered sugar, cinnamon, and a bit of almond milk to make a glaze.  Drizzle it over the bread.

Enjoy this fall bread and all of the coziness that comes with it :-)