Have you ever had Monkey Bread? I thought everyone had, but in the last 24 hours, I have found out that at least two of my friends have never even heard of it! That’s a real shame–I can’t imagine living my life not knowing that this sticky cinnamon-sugary masterpiece exists.
Unlike those friends, I am a Monkey Bread connoisseur. I remember sneaking into the choir room at my church on Christmas Eve and Easter just to pick at their leftovers. Imagine it: me in my hideous purple plastic glasses and acolyte robes, breaking all the rules to sneak a few bites before the service began. What can I say? I’ve always been a little rebellious.
I have made many Monkey Breads since my acolyte days. New York City has some incredible public parks, so picnicking is very popular up here. Let me tell you this–if you show up to a picnic with a fruit tray or sandwiches, everyone will be happy. If you show up with Monkey Bread, people will lose their freaking minds! Nobody, myself included, can resist this soft, sticky treat.
In the past, I have stuck to making Monkey Bread with cream biscuit dough (see here). It’s simple to throw together and doesn’t require the patience that working with yeast dough does. It’s super delicious, as all things coated in cinnamon-sugar ought to be. I really thought I’d be happy with that being the only Monkey Bread in my repertoire forever…but then, I went and created a yeast dough that I totally love. I used it in my Marzipan Cinnamon Rolls earlier this week, and I’m posting it again today because it’s just. that. good.
As I’ve mentioned before, working with yeast is much simpler than you might think–it’s just another leavener. I like to work with instant yeast, which makes the whole process even easier. The dough comes together quickly. Once it’s nice and smooth, place it in a bowl, cover it, and let it rise for 60-90 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to work with when you punch it down and it doesn’t spring back.
Roll the dough into a square and slice it into pieces. Take each one, form it into a ball, dip it in melted butter, and roll it in a mixture of dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Repeat that process 63 more times and place all of that cinnamon-sugar laden dough in a tube pan (or a bundt). Let it rise a bit at room temperature while you crank the oven to 350F, then let it bake for half an hour or so, just long enough to go totally crazy from the smell of cinnamon-sugar magic. Invert it onto a serving plate and voilà! Monkey Bread.
Now, you could totally eat this as is. There is no real way to improve upon this classic…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try 😊 I put together a quick caramel sauce while I was waiting to invert this Monkey Bread, and let me tell you, it was a brilliant idea. Cinnamon, sugar, sweet dough, *and* caramel? Little 10 year old acolyte me wouldn’t be able to tear herself away.
makes 1 10-12 cup tube/bundt pan
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (or mild honey)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in milk mixture, followed by egg and yolk. Add more all-purpose flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5-6 minutes before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Move covered bowl to a warm, draft-free environment* for 60-90 minutes, until dough has doubled in bulk.
Heavily grease a 10-12 cup tube (or bundt) pan with butter. Make sure to get butter into all the nooks and crannies. Set aside.
Make coating. Melt butter and place in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to mix together dark brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll risen dough into a 10-inch square. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut dough into 64 squares. Coat each ball in butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place in prepared pan. Repeat with all remaining squares. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake Monkey Bread for 30-35 minutes, covering with foil at the ten minute mark. Let baked Monkey Bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the outer edge before inverting onto a serving dish.
Make the caramel. Arrange all ingredients except pecans within arm’s reach of the stove. Place sugar in a small, light-colored saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high. Whisk constantly while sugar melts and turns a deep copper color (but doesn’t burn). Whisk in butter. Remove from heat. Whisk in heavy cream–be careful, the hot caramel will expand quickly and dramatically. Whisk in corn syrup, followed by vanilla and salt. Let cool slightly. Drizzle over Monkey Bread immediately before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a day or two.
1. If you do not have or do not wish to use bread flour, you may use an equal volume of all-purpose flour. The texture will be slightly different, but your rolls will still be delicious.
2. I preheat my oven to 200F, turn it off, and slide the covered pan inside. After 60-90 minutes, my rolls are ready to bake. Works every time.