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Author Notes: Here’s an easy way to be the most popular person at the potluck: Show up with monkey bread. This rich pastry, which has existed in some form or another since people have been making sweet yeasted rolls, consists of individual dough nuggets rolled in something (here it's cinnamon sugar) and baked together in a bundt pan. It’s a treat many remember from childhood, and in my experience at least, it causes eyes to light up as soon as it’s spotted. A caramel sauce really takes things to the next level.
For a savory riff on the same concept, check out this cheesy bacon-ranch monkey bread recipe, featuring grated Parmesan, chopped chives, and Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning.
Makes 1 bundt loaf
For the bread:
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 3 cups flour, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 sticks butter, softened, plus more for pan
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Heat the milk to between 80 and 100 degrees F. Mix with the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover with ¼ cup flour and let stand for 15-20 minutes, until you see cracks in the flour or small bubbles on the sides.
- Add the sugar, remaining flour, salt, and eggs and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment until combined.
- Begin slowly adding the softened butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, on low speed. Let each addition mix in fully before you add the next. After you’ve added about half, raise the speed to medium and continue adding the rest of the butter over 4-5 minutes.
- Once all the butter is fully incorporated, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Knead the dough once or twice, fold the edges in toward the center, and place it back in the bowl. Recover, and let rest in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with oiled parchment and gently flatten into a rectangle (the dough will be quite sticky—dip your fingers in a little water to keep it from sticking to you). Cover with plastic and return to the fridge overnight.
- The next morning, brush a bundt pan with butter and dust with flour. Cut dough into roughly 1½” -square pieces. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Roll each piece of dough in cinnamon sugar and place into pan (they’ll expand, so don’t worry about fitting them too tight). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until approximately doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
- Toward the end of the rise, preheat your oven to 350. Bake bread for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes and then flip onto a rack to finish cooling.
- For the sauce: Combine sugar with ¼ cup water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Heat the cream in a separate saucepan on low heat and keep warm. Heat sugar, without stirring, until it reaches a golden brown color, 6-10 minutes. Whisk in warm cream (carefully—it will foam quite a bit when you add it) and then butter and salt. Cool slightly and pour over cooled monkey bread.