How long has it been since you’ve had monkey bread? My younger brother and loved this stuff as kids! We didn’t have it very often, so it was definitely special when mom made it. I can’t tell you how long it had been since I had monkey bread, but it resurfaced in my life this past August when the kids in the family I was staying with requested it for their first day of school. Those gooey delicious memories were still spot on, and on that morning, I decided that I had to make it on my own.
Deciding when to make it was actually ridiculously easy. My hubby had been buzzing about making homemade cinnamon rolls the next time I went to Arizona to visit, and it didn’t take me too long to convince him that we should really make monkey bread instead. Success!
Choosing a recipe was a little bit harder. Many of the recipes I found called for refrigerated biscuit dough. Biscuit dough has its place, as I know that is what mom used, but I have this new interest in yeasted bread doughs and really wanted to make my own dough. I ended up following a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that I saw on Brown Eyed Baker except that I let my bread machine take the dough up through its first rise. I’m still new enough with yeast that I don’t fully trust myself to make a dough that actually rises without the help of any “appliances.” My only other change next time would be to decrease the amount of butter called for in the coating. I melted the full 8 tablespoons and still had quite a bit left after coating all the balls of dough. I think you could easily get by with 5-6 tablespoons of butter and still have plenty to go around.
The final result was definitely as gooey and decadent as I remember! Delicious! Monkey bread will probably never make the weekly or even monthly breakfast rotation at our place, but at least I know I’ve got this recipe in my back pocket for those special mornings =)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Brown Eyed Baker
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 c. milk warm (about 110 degrees F)
1/3 c. water (about 110 degrees F)
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 pkg. instant yeast
3-1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra four work surface
2 tsp. salt
Brown sugar coating:
1 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
5-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Butter a bundt pan with the 2 tablespoons of softened butter (alternatively you can spray the pan with a non-stick spray such as Baker’s Joy).
Add dough ingredients to the bowl of a bread machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Start the machine on the bread cycle. After the dough cycle is complete, sprinkle flour onto a work surface and pat the dough out into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut the dough into 64 pieces.
For the sugar coating, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized, flat bowl. Melt the remaining 5-6 tablespoons of butter and place in a small bowl. Roll each dough piece into a ball and dip one at a time into the melted butter and sugar mixture. Layer the balls in the bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
Cover the bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in draft-free area until the dough balls are puffy and have risen to 1-2 inches from the top of the pan, about 50-70 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and the caramel begins to bubble around the edges, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes more.
While the bread cools, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread with the whisk, letting it run over the top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.
Note: The bread can also be made with a stand mixer or by hand.
Stand mixer directions – In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix flour and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the machine on low and slowly add the milk mixture. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6-7 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, round ball. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and coat the surface of the dough with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, about 50-60 minutes.
Hand directions – In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the milk mixture to the well, and using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough becomes shaggy and is hard to stir. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and kneed until the dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and follow rising directions above.