Monkey Bread

Posted by hsimpsongrossman on October 26, 2014

David, my oldest nephew is turning Bar Mitzvah this week and I am giddy with excitement!  After all, it’s the first Bar Mitzvah from my side!

Zippi (his mother, my sister), is the crazy superwomen type.  She has six kids (God bless them (and her)), a demanding full-time job, a household to run and a husband.  She barely sleeps, forgets to eat, helps everybody, organizes everything and never thinks about herself.

Given her impossible schedule and knowing her grand plans for the anticipated event, I’ve tried offering help countless times.  To finally shut me up, Zippi threw a bone at my direction and gave me an assignment, which was certain to keep me busy (and quiet) for a while: I was to come up with a recipe related to the story of Noah and the Arc, which the Bar Mitzvah boy will be reading in the synagogue on Shabbat.

Obviously, I needed something photogenic (the recipe and pictures were to be published in a Bar Mitzvah Newsletter), not too difficult to make (I had to assume the readers of said Newsletter are not necessarily trained chefs), using handy ingredients (for someone to actually try my recipe at home).

Monkey Bread I'm Sexy and I know It
I’m Sexy and I know It

Monkey Bread was the natural choice: The name is intriguing, it looks much more sophisticated than it actually is to make and provides the opportunity for great pictures.  Oh, and it meant I will have an excuse to make one for us!

The task was assigned to me in the midst of the Jewish holidays and the only day available for performing the mission was the morning of Yom Kippur.  Not the most responsible time for messing around the kitchen.  In order to mitigate damages I prepared the dough and assembled the bread the night before so that all I needed to do in the morning was to put the cake into a warm oven.

Monkey Bread Out of the Fridge
Out of the Fridge

There are countless Monkey Bread recipes out there and I tried quite a number of them (one with peanut butter, anther with chocolate and even a savory one).  I chose the one from Baked Explorations this time.  I used a bit less sugar, added vanilla essence and  made the dough my way, by hand.

Monkey Bread Monkey Business
Monkey Business

Better Half had to help me fend off the kids so that I can take pictures of the cake, untouched.  Once my work was done and the beasts were unleashed, it was a matter of minutes before the cake was gone.

Monkey Bread Whos been Eating from My Cake2
Who’s been Eating from My Cake

Monkey Bread on the Spot:  Make the dough and let it proof.  Make the filling.  Form balls.  Dip the balls in butter and cinnamon.  Arrange in the tin.  Leave for a second proofing.  Bake. Release the cake to a platter. Voilà!

Monkey Bread The whole and its Parts
The whole, its Parts

Monkey Bread

Slightly adapted from the recipe for Monkey Bubble Bread in Baked Explorations

Ingredients, for a 10-inch (26 cm) Bundt pan:

For the Dough:

1 1/4 cups (290 ml) whole milk

1 tablespoon instant yeast

4 cups (19 oz., 560 grams) all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

5 tablespoons (2.5 oz., 70 grams) unsalted butter, melted; plus extra butter, soft, for buttering the Bundt tin

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

1 1/4 cups (9.5 oz., 270 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces, 100 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Generously butter the inside of a 10-inch Bundt tin with soft butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Monkey Bread GENEROUSLY Buttered

To save on dirty dishes, I melt the butter in the same small saucepan I use later for warming up the milk.  Once the butter has melted, I transfer it to a small bowl and let it cool down to room temperature.

Monkey Bread Melting Pot
Melting Pot

Pour the milk into said small saucepan (no need to wash it).

Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the milk and mix.  Warm the milk to slightly above room temperature (not beyond 110 degrees Fahrenheit/43 degrees Celsius), or you will kill the yeast), then remove it from the heat, sprinkle the yeast, and whisk to dissolve.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the hook attachment, beat the flour and the rest of the sugar, until combined.  Or, if not using mixer, in a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients.  Mix (on low speed if using a mixer) until combined.

If using a mixer, keeping it on low, slowly pour in the milk and mix just until combined.  Add the melted butter and mix until the dough comes together and becomes silky and soft, but not sticky, 5-4 minutes.

Monkey Bread Proofing Time
Proofing Time

If kneading by hand, pour the milk, melted butter and vanilla into the dry ingredients and knead until the dough comes together, for about 4-5 minutes.

The dough should form a ball, which easily comes off the bottom of the mixing bowl.  (If the dough is too wet, add some flour, if it is too dry, add a tiny bit of water. )

Smear the bottom and sides of a large bowl with soft butter or spray it with cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to make sure it is completely covered in butter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Line a sheet pan or a large flat working surface with parchment paper .

Monkey Bread The Grid
The Grid

Push down and deflate the dough.  Remove it from the bowl and pat it into a rough circle approximately 8 inches in diameter.  Use a bench knife or serrated knife to cut the dough into 60 (yes, as you can see in the picture below, I only had 59)  1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/2 oz./15 grams each).  Alternatively, pinch apart the dough.  Roll the pieces into balls (they don’t have to be perfectly round).  Place the balls on the sheet pan and cover the balls lightly with plastic wrap.

Monkey Bread 60 Balls
(Nearly) 60 Balls

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.

Monkey Bread All Set
All Set

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and let it cool down to room temperature.

Assemble the Bread

Remove the plastic wrap from the dough balls and dip as many balls as fit comfortably in the bowl in the melted butter.  Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan.

Monkey Bread Ebony and Ivory
Ebony and Ivory

Continue this process with each ball, until you have several layers of cinnamon coated balls.

Monkey Bread Another Brick in the Wall
Another Brick in the Wall

Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap.  Set it in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough balls have doubled in size and appear puffy.  Or, if preparing for the following morning, put the wrapped tin in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).  Remove the plastic and bake until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.

Monkey Bread Out of the Oven
Out of the Oven

Cool the bread for 5 minutes, and then turn it out directly onto a platter.  The bread should slide out of the tin easily.  If it doesn’t, pat the tin gently until the bread slides out.

Monkey Bread Successfully Removed
Successfully Removed

Serve warm.  Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in an oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius) until warm to the touch.

Monkey Bread Poor Man's Lamb
Poor Man’s Lamb

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4 thoughts on “Monkey Bread

  1. That looks amazing!
    Have never tasted (nor made of course) a monkey bread.
    Can’t quite understand why it’s called a monkey bread, but it sure looks tasty!

    • Thanks Michal!

      I love the practical explanation most of all – food you eat with your hands (at the risk of seeming a bit beasty..).

      And look at a picture of the Monkey Tail/Puzzle Tree on Wikipedia – its fruit does resemble a Monkey Bread.

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