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Monkey Bread

October 12, 2011

Monkey bread, for those unfamiliar with the term, sounds like a novelty food for children, but despite the unsophisticated name, it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike! It is made by separating dough into many pieces, and reassembling the pieces in a Bundt pan so that when unmolded, the pieces can be easily torn off and eaten. There has been much speculation about where the name “monkey bread” came from, whether because it resembles the bark of a monkey puzzle tree, or if pulling it apart and eating it with the hands resembles the way a monkey eats. I have come across both savory and sweet versions, but my favorite kind is that with cinnamon and sugar, tasting just like fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon buns. This recipe for monkey bread, from the ATK Family Baking Book, uses the same dough as the the recipe I use for my cinnamon rolls, so the flavor is very similar.

The most important thing about monkey bread is to serve it warm so that it’s easy to pull apart, and I timed making it ahead of time so that I’d be taking out out of the oven a few minutes before I left for work. It was a huge hit with my coworkers – I didn’t come home with any leftovers!

Monkey bread

The dough and/or the assembled bread may be made ahead. If you wish to make the dough ahead, do not let it rise but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cutting into pieces and assembling bread. If you wish to assemble the bread ahead, do not let the bread rise in the pan but refrigerate it in the pan overnight or up to 16 hours; let them sit at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in size, then bake as directed.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

Bread

  • 3/4  cup buttermilk, warm (110 degrees F)
  • 6  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3  large eggs
  • 4 1/4  cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 2 1/4  teaspoons (1 envelope) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons salt
  • 1  cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Glaze

  • 1  cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2  tablespoons milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Make the dough:

  1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Assemble and bake:

  1. Grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. Toss the brown sugar with the cinnamon, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide into 36 even pieces, and cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Working with several pieces of dough at a time, round the dough into tight balls. Roll the balls in the melted butter, then the cinnamon sugar. Arrange evenly in prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle any remaining butter and cinnamon sugar over top. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Adjust an oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is deep brown and the caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  5. Cool the monkey bread in the pan for 5 minutes (and no longer, or it will stick and not come out easily), then gently turn out onto a platter and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes more.

Make the glaze:

  1. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl until smooth, then drizzle over the bread and serve warm.

One comment

  1. […] same basic sweet dough recipe from the ATK Family Baking Book used in both my cinnamon rolls and monkey bread, and the assembly is almost the same as the cinnamon rolls. Rather than baking the rolls and then […]



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