Comfort Food: Monkey Bread

Every proper southern sleepover I attended as a child ended with orange juice and fresh, gooey monkey bread in the morning.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized it goes much better with coffee and that there was, indeed, a huge difference between the made-from-scratch kind and the biscuit-in-a-can kind.  When you’re a kid, sweet and cinnamon-y is always the bees knees, but later on, you just know what’s real and what’s not.   

Monkey Bread

Note: You can absolutely just use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but I like to combine these different types of flour to get a softer, squishier, and chewier bread.

The dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup high gluten flour

In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and butter over medium-low until the butter is melted.  Turn off heat and cool to approximately 105 ° – 110 °.   You can always use a candy thermometer to check if you aren’t sure. While that cools, mix the warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar in a bowl and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Mix the warm milk, egg, sugar, salt, and yeast mixture.  Pour into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the bread flour and high gluten flour.   Mix on low speed until the flour is completely moistened.  Add the all-purpose flour and mix on low speed for 6 minutes.  Add more all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky.  It should just pull away from the side of the bowl, but not be tough or hard.   Continue to knead on medium low for 3 more minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large, well-greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest in a warm place for one hour, or until it has doubled in size.  While it rises, prep the good stuff.

The good stuff:

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Have one bowl for the melted sugar, and in another bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon until combined.  Set both aside.   Grease a large Bundt pan and set aside.

Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a flat square or rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the dough into small pieces, about 1-inch in size, rolling each in the palm of your hands to form a smooth ball.

Dunk each ball into the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until coated evenly. Layer the balls in the Bundt pan, staggering the rows as you fill it up.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least one hour before ready to cook and allow to rise in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown and the sugar is bubbling. Cool the bread in the pan for exactly 5 minutes, then turn out onto a serving platter. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Comfort Food: Monkey Bread

  1. Jeffrey

    For anybody wondering, there isn’t any official explanation of the name “monkey bread.” If you make this bread, which is a really good idea, the only way to improve on it would be to make up an origin story while you’re waiting for the dough to rise.

  2. This photo puts the best 60s recipe card to shame! And with the refrigerate overnight, it really is a perfect sleepover recipe.

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