Project Dessert

How to Make Monkey Bread

By • January 24, 2014 • 6 Comments

Every other Friday, Yossy Arefi from Apt. 2B Baking Co. shares dessert projects that demand a little extra time and effort. Because your weekends should always be sweet.

Today: Invite some friends over for brunch. Make lots of coffee. Make this Monkey Bread. Make sure you eat it with your hands.

I like food that’s casual, a bit messy, and fun to eat with your hands -- and monkey bread just happens to fit perfectly into all of these categories.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, monkey bread is a sweet bread made of little balls of yeasted dough rolled in butter and spiced sugar, then baked in a bundt pan. The result is a sticky, delicious pull-apart loaf that is perfect for enjoying over a loung-y weekend brunch with lots of good coffee and lots of friends.

Many monkey bread recipes use canned biscuits as a base, and while I appreciate a kitchen shortcut every once in a while, this is not the place to take one. For this version I made a simple, enriched yeast dough with a bit of whole grain goodness, then rolled the balls in a heady blend of chai spices (although plain old cinnamon would do the job just fine) and baked the whole thing until it was caramelized and gooey. Make sure to serve this bread warm and fresh the day it’s baked. For maximum enjoyment, eat it with your hands. 

Dough

4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
1 cup milk, warmed to 110º F
1/3 cup water, warmed to 110º F
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour or spelt flour
2 teaspoons salt

Use 2 tablespoons of the softened butter to generously grease a 10-inch bundt pan. Use your fingers to ensure that butter gets into every nook and cranny of the pan.

Combine the warm milk, water, sugar, and active dry yeast in a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.

While the yeast is proofing, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

When the yeast is ready, turn the mixer on low and stream in the yeast mixture. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter and the egg. Knead the dough until it is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky, but if it seems like it is overly wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.

Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and turn the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

 

While the dough is rising, prepare the chai-spiced coating. 

Chai-Spiced Coating

1 cup light brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but pliable
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped 

Start by by mixing the spices and vanilla bean seeds into the sugar. Then, brown the butter by cooking it over medium heat in a small saucepan, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn light brown and the butter has a nutty fragrance. Set aside to cool slightly.

When the dough is finished rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a square about 8 inches by 8 inches. Use a pizza wheel or bench scraper to cut the dough into 32 even pieces. (If you're feeling ambitious, cut it into 64 pieces!)

Working with a few pieces at a time, roll each piece of dough into a rough ball, then roll it in the cooled browned butter followed by a roll in the brown sugar.

  

Layer the dough balls in the bundt pan snugly. Repeat until all dough balls are used.

Cover the bundt pan with a clean towel and set it in a warm place to rise until it reaches 1 to 2 inches below the rim of the pan; this should take about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Bake the bread until the top is dark and caramelized and the sugar is bubbling around the edges. Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a plate. Cool for 5 more minutes, then dig in. This bread is best served warm the day that it is made.

Monkey Bread on Food52

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by Yossy Arefi

Tags: project dessert, monkey bread, yossi arefi, classic desserts, how-to & DIY, breakfast, brunch

Comments (6)

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Stringio

4 months ago Nameeta Rajwani

Hi! Tried making this yesterday - love the recipe but found that mine tasted a bit yeasty. Any suggestions?

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6 months ago Jessica Jung

Can this be made in a regular cake pan? Do I have to use a bundt pan?

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6 months ago Alicia

This recipe requires one to be up early on a weekend morning. Not my style. I am looking forward to trying this recipe, but will do the prep the night before and then put it in the fridge. Then all I have to do is preheat the oven, pop this in and then hop back into bed and be awoken by those luscious aromas it's sure to make!

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6 months ago Kelly Warmkessel

I was thinking the same, too early for a weekend. If we do the fridge method, do you think we have to let it sit out and rise first before popping it in the oven? I used to make a sticky bun version that used frozen dinner rolls. I did all the prep the night before with frozen rolls, let it sit out on counter overnight, waking up to a puffy bundt pan of goodness and then just popped it in the oven.

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6 months ago Alicia

You "raise" a good point! (Sorry for the pun couldn't resist!) My kitchen is cold enough that your suggestion should work well, i.e. leave it on the counter overnight. I'll try this next weekend when my son is back in town.

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6 months ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's assistant editor.

Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I used to make a version of monkey bread in high school using tubes of Pillsbury biscuit dough. Knowing how good that semi-homemade monkey bread was, I can only imagine how this one must taste! I'll have to try it soon, I guess!