Time for another tale of “How Things Didn’t Go As Planned.” Gather ’round!

Truth: This toasted coconut monkey bread totally didn’t turn out how I intended. I was imagining an ooey, gooey, coconut-y bread with bits of buttery coconut flakes on top. The buttery coconut bits remained, sure, but the bread itself? Not so ooey-gooey (and not so purdy, either). That said, it’s one of the tastiest breads I’ve ever made. It’s light, and tastes distinctly of coconut, and once you bite into the toasted buttery coconut topping, you want to ride a magic carpet ride of coconut bliss to a whole new world of All Things Coconut and never return. So there’s an element of surprise to this bread, I guess. You can set the bar low with its humble appearance, so when your friends take a bite, they’ll be wowed. Wowed, I tell you (though if this bread looked half as yummy as it tastes, I bet they’d still be impressed by its flavor).

Not to get all cliche on you, but this bread really serves as a metaphor for my present life situation. Things seemed like they were going to be A-OK — new home, new jobs, new environment and overall outlook on life — but lately, it doesn’t seem to be working out as we’d planned. To make a looooooooooong story short, when once we were SO SURE of what was going to happen in our next chapter, we are now looking at the future as this dark, empty, completely unknown void. This makes a normally high-strung, stressed-out, worrisome me TEN TIMES that. I’m about two shakes away from tears at any given moment, wishing my life could be one way but knowing that I ultimately have no control over what will happen and when. That’s just real life right now.

That said, I know I’ve been here before. And I know that, in the end, things did turn out A-OK. In fact, they turned out great. I had no idea nearly three (THREE!) years ago when I started that I’d fall in love so hard with blogging. I had no idea I’d be writing and developing recipes for these lovely people.

And I had no idea I’d ever get to visit the General Mills headquarters, like I did last week. Not only did I meet the wonderfully talented group of bloggers I work alongside, but I also got to see (and cook in! Bah!) the Betty Crocker Kitchens, and

And who knows what’s in store for the future. But you know what? If it’s anything like this past chapter, I know I’ll enter the next one and be just fine. If nothing else, at least I’ll have this bread to enjoy along the way.

OK, enough of my blabbering — let’s get to the good stuff. The super awesome people at General Mills gifted me with a copy of the new Betty Crocker Cookbook, but I already have a copy (and I love it like it was my imaginary child). So, I’m giving this one away! Seriously, if you have even the skill to wield a spatula, you will enjoy this cookbook. It has oodles of tasty recipes that seem fancy schmancy, but are actually super simple to make.

Toasted Coconut Monkey Bread
Adapted from The Knead for Bread

Yields: 1 bundt o’ bread

Dough —
2/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons shortening (melted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsweetened coconut flakes
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick plus 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Topping —
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsweetened coconut flakes

Place an oven rack in the bottom third of oven and heat oven to 200 degrees F. When oven reaches 200 degrees F, turn it off and keep the door closed.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment, combine coconut milk, water, shortening, sugar, dry milk powder, yeast, egg and finely chopped coconut. Add in half the flour and all the salt and mix until just combined. Switch to dough hook and stir, adding in more of the flour slowly (or, mix dough with a wooden spoon). Continue to add more flour and increase speed to medium, kneading until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky, about 5 minutes (or, place dough on a floured surface and knead, adding more flour until dough is smooth and elastic and slightly sticky, about 10 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Grease the bottom and insides of a bundt pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.

To make the topping, combine flour, sugar, butter and coconut in a small bowl and, using your fingers, mix until it becomes a crumble. Sprinkle mixture evenly in bottom of prepared bundt pan.

Melt 1/2 stick butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Divide dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in melted butter, then place in bottom of bundt pan. Continue with remaining dough balls, filling empty pockets in the bundt pan. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven. Let dough rise to 1 to 2 inches from the top of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove pan from oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then invert carefully onto a large plate and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.