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Monkey Bread

Monkey BreadHave 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.

Monkey BreadUnlike 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.

Monkey BreadI 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.

Monkey BreadIn 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.

Monkey BreadMonkey BreadAs 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.

Monkey BreadMonkey BreadRoll 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.Monkey Bread

Monkey BreadNow, 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.Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread
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.

Monkey BreadMonkey Bread


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.


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.