Aural Fixation / (Vegan) Pumpkin Monkey Bread

By Sierra Drucker and Catherine McNulty

It seems like every fall some crazy rumor mongering news outlet reports a pumpkin shortage. Can you imagine going through the entire autumn without pumpkin bread? Or pumpkin scones? Or pumpkin pie?! I can’t, so I go into crazy apocalypse mode and stock up on canned pumpkin, mini pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, and any other orangey gourd I can lay my hands on. But you know what? There are always pumpkins available until the bitter end. Oh yeah, when December rolls around, there they are, looking forlorn and dejected.

But it’s October and it’s time to celebrate the king of the gourds. And nothing showcases the mighty pumpkin quite like cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and butter. This recipe can be made vegan or non-vegan and is a delicious addition to a lazy fall brunch.

  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted (use vegan butter to make recipe vegan)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 package or 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 3 ¼ – 3 ½ all-purpose flour (plus extra for work surface)
  • 2 tsp salt

Mix together melted butter, water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes and add pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Start with 3 ¼ cups, if the dough is too wet you may need to add a bit more. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, start mixing the flour mixture and slowly add the pumpkin mixture. Let mix for 6-7 minutes stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and making sure the flour on the bottom is incorporated.

If you don’t have a mixer, take heart! You can do it by hand, but you will be mixing for 10 minutes or so. The dough should be supple and a bit sticky. Put the dough in a well-greased bowl and cover. Allow it to rise to double, about 60 minutes or so.

Once dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 350F. Line two muffin tins with paper baking cups. Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and roll or press dough out to about ¼ inch thick. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut dough into equal sized pieces. I find that ½ inch to ¾ inch square usually works best.

For the coating:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of butter or 8 tbsp vegan butter, melted

Melt butter and keep separate from other ingredients. Put all other ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Roll the dough squares into balls and dip each ball in melted butter and then roll in sugar. Place 3 to 4 balls in each muffin cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. To be really decadent, top with cream cheese icing (which also can be made vegan!). Worship at the alter of pumpkin.

And now, for our equally delicious playlist…

Autumn is a time to slow things down, watch the leaves turn, and take a lazy stroll with your headphones on. As you settle in for the comfort of a cup of spicy tea and a slice of savory Pumpkin Monkey Bread, enjoy a breath and the soothing sounds of these mellow Fall inspired tunes.

Made In Heights “Wildflowers”

Let’s get Zen for a moment with Made In Heights’ “Wildflowers.” Drum and bass meets shoegaze for the ultimate chill out and zone out experience. I highly recommend taking a listen to the rest of their newly released EP here.

High Highs “Open Season” 

This charming melody simply begs you to daydream. The Australian folk duo known as the High Highs have said they are influenced by the country and silence. Take a minute to close your eyes and imagine a relaxing afternoon of pumpkin picking in the country –nothing but open fields and a rusty sunset on the horizon.

DJ Shadow “Scale It Back feat. Little Dragon”

The legendary DJ Shadow has just released a much-anticipated full length, The Less You Know The Better. This particular track warms me up like a tall glass of hot chocolate. Those gorgeous keys set the perfect foundation to layer the musical stylings of uber talented Little Dragon like frosting on a slice of monkey bread. Mmmm…

Woodkid “Iron”

Woodkid, aka Yoann Lemoine, is a French film director who just happens to dabble in music as well. Taking a hint from Philip Glass, this piece is dark, dramatic and beautiful, fitting for the early sundown of Autumn season. And, of course, the self-directed video is stunning. You can see more of his work here.

My Brightest Diamond “We Added It Up”

The Fall release from My Brightest Diamond sings right to my heart with a flurry of instruments and poetry like multi-colored leaves blowing down a wooded pathway. See the beauty in action here.

Lana del Rey “Video Games (Jamie Woon Remix)”

Jamie Woon puts a cold and windy spin on Lana del Rey’s “Video Games.” I’m not a fan of cold weather, but I am a fan of all the other delights that Fall brings. As for Lana, I’m not a fan of this manufactured indie artist, but this remix cannot be denied.

St. Vincent “Year of the Tiger”

Oh, Annie Clark. You can do no wrong. Slow and lilting, this song is just right for a crisp gray day of reminiscing about youth. The perfection that is her Fall release, Strange Mercy, is simply cruel.

Dent May “Fun”

Dent May parted with his Magnificent Ukelele for this breezy new 7”. Autumn is a time of change. School is starting, leaves are turning, and the days get shorter and shorter. This is a time to embrace, and as Dent May says “I don’t know what’s in store for me, but I think it’s going to be fun.”

Happy Autumn and happy monkey bread eating.

Catherine McNulty quit her day job and decided to become part of the problem, not the solution in America’s battle of the bulge by attending culinary school to become a pastry chef. When she’s not cursing ovens and scarfing cookies at ungodly hours in the morning, she can be found at Noms-Away.

Sierra Drucker lives, breathes, and apparently now eats music. She currently works for Format Entertainment as a Music Coordinator/Supervisor, and also spins locally as DJ Sea. If you’re hungry for more musical musings, head over to her digital homebase, Inland Sounds.

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