OK, Monkey Bread: Esther over in Australia wants to know. Now, unlike say, pudding (meaning a custardy bowl of sweet goo, not the dessert course at large) or Mallomars (excellent cookies aka biscuits, with a bottom layer of shortbread, a big puff of marshmallow, the whole thing coated in dark chocolate and only sold from October to April, when the weather's cool enough not to melt the chocolate), monkey bread is not some only-in-America thing.
I've seen the phrase used occasionally to refer to something like pull-apart rolls, meaning wads of dough dipped in butter and squished together in a large pan, to be baked and "pulled apart" into fluffy hunks at the table (because monkeys don't slice their bread?). But this monkey bread was a different animal altogether, something purely made up by the nice bakers at Arizmendi Lakeshore, a collective bakery in Oakland, CA. In fact, we sat around in our PJs wondering the very same thing. Why monkey bread?
Well, there were a lot of nuts in it. It was a small loaf of slightly brioche-like yeast bread, full of walnuts and probably other good things like brown sugar. The top was sugary and really crunchy along the edges, especially when the whole loaf was reheated until toasty. I'm going to be back in Cali next week, and if I can, I'll go back to Arizmendi and ask, "Why monkey?"
(And speaking of animals you can toast, even better than the monkey bread, to my taste, were the Wolverine rolls, chewy-crusted whole wheat rolls full of sweet dried apricots and pecans. Warm 'em up, put a little goat cheese on, and you're one happy monkey.)
And the wedding-cake countdown continues...Today's purchase: a set of disposable icing bags and a cute lil' star tip. Now, I just need a big can of cheap icing and a lot of practice, since the bridal couple has, alas, nixed the idea of one of those plastic bride-and-groom sets on top (although they did, for a moment, consider a little Yoda figurine, hand in hand with...whoever Yoda sleeps with.) Did I mention that I've been tapped to make Shifra's wedding cake? The same couple who got the eggless-spelt-flour carrot birthday cake back in May are getting married in SF next weekend (yay!) and I'm making a little cake, just for them. Which means, of course, lots of cake baking, in order to find an eggless, wheat-and-corn free item that's also very, very tasty. The first try (almond-lemon-cardamon) was a washout; next up, the excellent Meyer lemon cake from Fran Gage's charming book Bread and Chocolate. Lots of butter, a delicious lemon syrup (made from the zest of four lemons soaked in a syrup that's equal parts water and sugar), and in this case, buzzed silken tofu instead of eggs. Wish me luck! And if you have any tips for eggless baking, let me know! Will anyone mind if I whip out some wax paper and start piping rosettes on my JetBlue tray table?
And another request, for all you knitters out there: I need a pattern for a very long, rather weirdly shaped, tube-like cozy. A cover for an M16, in fact. One of the Pie Queen's nearest and dearest is about to go overseas to serve her country, to a place where she's going to need to keep her rifle with her all the time, and don't you think a little pink yarn would make all the difference on those chilly nights? This may sound like a joke, but actually, I would knit this, if I could, if only to make a tentful of soldiers laugh out loud. If you have a pattern, let me know!