I thought my mother invented Monkey Bread. She’s made it as long as I can remember, and when I moved away I started making it myself. Well… I didn’t make it too often, because it’s bread and I have self-policing issues around carbs.
Sometime last year, I was invited dinner with friends. They were making pasta, so I decided to make garlic bread. Ok, actually, I had more of an epiphany and decided to make garlic cheese monkey bread. Something I’ve never tried before. I crushed a few cloves of garlic (too lazy to mince) and added shredded sharp cheddar. My friends fought over this bread. I have to say that it was pretty good. Who doesn’t love cheese?
While perusing on pinterest a few weeks ago (again with the pinterest), I saw posts of monkey bread. I began clicking on the pictures and became very pouty. Every loaf that I saw had these perfect little bread chunks that separated nicely when you pulled the bread apart. When you look at mine, all of the pieces just kind of meld together into one tall tubular loaf, and the bread pulls apart in random strips. (This isn’t the best picture, but I think you can tell that the side is pretty flat and uniform.) Time to do a little research (Insert “to the web” and add the batman swirl from the show here).
I called my mom (at this point, I still thought that my mom invented monkey bread and that other people just had the same idea that she did). I told her about the pictures of monkey bread I saw, how their pieces held together instead of fusing together (like ours), and that some people actually used store bought biscuit dough to make their loaves. She told me that the original recipe called for store bought biscuit dough. Mind. Blown. My mom always used store bought bread dough (the frozen loaves, usually comes in a bag of 3), or made the dough herself when she had the time. So technically, she came up with her version of monkey bread. Of course now, I wanted mine to look as pretty as everyone else’s, while still using bread dough (homemade or store bought).
First, I started with a bundt pan instead of a tube pan. Then I cut the pieces a bit smaller than I usually do and just threw them in the pan anywhere. I didn’t try to fill every single hole, or pack the pieces in too tightly.
I let the dough right almost to the top of the pan, instead of all the way to the top.
I decided to try cinnamon sugar since I’ve never done it before with monkey bread. I wasn’t exactly expecting all of the caramelized sugar goodness on the bottom, but I didn’t mind at all. I just skipped the vanilla glaze.
The recipe I’m posting is for cinnamon sugar, but you can use any flavor combo that makes your mouth water. I’m also including a sweet dough recipe that’s great for cinnamon rolls, chop-chop bread (an even easier version of monkey bread), or donuts. Frozen dough is also perfectly acceptable. Some days you’re not in the mood to wait for dough to rise twice. I always keep a bag in the freezer.
Warning: The recipe I’m posting is not for the faint of heart. It a culmination of ideas from both my mom and I. We scaled and adapted the recipe from one that I was given in school. It’s a great recipe, but it’s going to require that you be a little adventurous. You can always use a store bought frozen dough. Just let it sit until it reaches room temperature before using.
Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread
For the bread
- 3 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1 ¼ cups (9oz) water
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon dry milk
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cup pastry flour
- 4 cup bread flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
For the cinnamon-sugar mixture
- 1 stick (8oz) unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I love siagon cinnamon)
Generously butter a bundt or tube pan.
Pour all ingredients into a bowl fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until ingredients have incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and mix for approximately 8 minutes. If the dough seems too tacky, you can add flour 1/8 cup at a time. Cover and let rest for one hour.
Melt butter and let cool. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Cut the dough into 1 ½ inch pieces (or any random size that you prefer, but no larger than 2 inches. Dip each piece of dough into the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture, then place in bundt pan. Continue this process until you have two layers of dough. Any extra dough remaining can be used for smaller monkey bread by using a muffin pan. Place the pan in a warm area and let rise until double, or when the dough has almost reached the top of the pan.
Bake the bread in a 350°F oven for approximately 30 min, or until the bread is golden brown. Let rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes, than invert onto a cooling rack.
About rising dough: I learned a pretty cool trick, but I have to say, when I first started to do this, I was very, very nervous. You can cut the rising time in half but placing the pan in the oven. Set your oven to 200° F and then turn it off. While the oven is preheating, put the kettle on and boil water. Place a heat safe pan (9x13 if you have it) and put it on the bottom rack of the oven. When the water has boiled, pour some of the water into the pan (about ½ inch high) and place your bundt pan on the rack just above. I usually check about every 15 minutes or so to see how the dough is doing. Keep adding water as it cools and you can turn the oven on and off a couple more times.