Scratch Biscuit Monkey Bread

 Everybody loves Monkey Bread. Soft pieces of bread coated in cinnamon-sugar? Yes, please. It’s perfect for holiday breakfasts, brunches, snacks, desserts–you name it. Monkey Bread is welcome anytime, anywhere. But the dough involves yeast and a rise of up to 8 HOURS. I love working with yeast, but I straight-up don’t have the time for an 8 hour rise during the holiday season. A popular alternative is to use canned biscuits instead of yeast dough, but canned biscuit are…meh. Don’t get me wrong. I would never turn down a canned biscuit. My mother always kept two tubes in the fridge for weekend breakfasts, and I have no problem putting away three at a time. But we can do better, and also save time. We can use simple scratch biscuit dough. We’re scrappy like that.

The dough we’ll use here is for cream biscuits. Whereas buttermilk biscuits must be kept cold to ensure that the butter stays cool enough for a flaky final product, cream biscuits are more rough-and-tumble. There’s no cutting in of butter, or determining how much buttermilk you need to make the biscuits moist but not goopy. (Sorry for saying “goopy” on a food blog.) This dough is very straightforward, and can handle a warm butter bath. There are only six ingredients: flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and two cups of heavy cream. Yes, two cups of cream is a lot, but as there is no butter or buttermilk, this dough needs that kind of moisture and fat. This is holiday food, after all. It’s a splurge no matter how you make it. Embrace the cream!    
 
Anyway…stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking powder. Then, using a silicone spatula, stir in the cream. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any cream and flour that have adhered themselves incorporated into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is 1/2-3/4″ thick. Then fold it in half and turn it one quarter-turn. We’ll repeat this folding and rolling until it’s been done four times total. This will give us great layers. Once you have done all the folding and rolling and once again have a 1/2-3/4″ thick rectangle, cut the dough into one-inch squares. To do this, use a sharp knife or bench scraper (my tool of choice) and cut directly down. Do not saw, or you will deflate all those layers you just worked so hard making. Put the squares aside while we make the coating.    Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter, and put it in a small bowl to cool a bit. It should still be warm, but as we have to touch it directly, the butter shouldn’t be super hot. In another bowl, whisk together light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and four teaspoons of cinnamon. Now, using your hands, take five biscuit squares at a time, dunk them in the butter, coat them in the cinnamon-sugar, then lay them in a pan that is very, very, VERY well-greased with butter. We don’t want our Monkey Bread to stick when we turn it out after baking. Once all your squares have been coated and are in the pan, press down on them lightly to make sure they stick together. Bake the Monkey Bread for 40-45 minutes, until it springs back when pressed with clean fingers. Let it cool for just a few minutes before flipping it onto a platter. Serve it immediately. Everybody will love this soft, sticky, sweet treat.  And there it is! Scratch Monkey Bread made in less than two hours start-to-finish. The pieces that touched the pan will be a little crispy and crunchy, while the ones in the middle will be delightfully soft. Yum. This recipe is great for any holiday parties you’re having or attending, and it’s a wonderful way to get little helpers involved. Give them the biscuit squares, butter, and cinnamon-sugar, and let them do the coating! They’ll be so proud of their finished product! Happy Holidays, indeed.  

Scratch Biscuit Monkey Bread
makes one 12.5 cup capacity bundt or tube pan*

Cream Biscuits:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups heavy cream*

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a bundt or tube pan very well with butter. Set aside.

Make the biscuit dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Pour in heavy cream and stir, scraping the bowl, until a dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a large rectangle that is 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Fold it in half, and turn one quarter-turn. Repeat folding and rolling until you have done it four times total. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 1-inch squares. Place the squares in a large bowl while you prepare the coating.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Transfer it to a small bowl to cool enough to be touched. In a separate small bowl, whisk together sugars and cinnamon.

Dip biscuit squares in butter, then coat in cinnamon-sugar. Place coated squares in prepared pan. Once all squares are in the pan, press down on them lightly so that they stick together. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bread springs back when lightly pressed with your clean finger.

Let monkey bread cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate or platter. Serve immediately.

Monkey Bread is best on the day it’s made, but can be kept covered at room temperature for up to two days. Re-warm before serving.

Notes:

1. This recipe can be halved and baked in a 9″x5″ loaf pan, though I am not sure of the bake time.
2. Heavy cream must be used in this dough. Do not substitute half & half or milk.

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