Like Curious George my interest has been piqued. By Monkey Bread. As far as I can gather it’s a sweet, sticky, gooey breakfast pastry popular in the USA. Sometimes also affectionately referred to as puzzle bread, golden crown, pinch-me cake, bubble loaf and monkey brains. Well loved and the subject of many a post.
This weekend the weather was foul. Stormy,wet and windy. With a full house what better opportunity to try this out for myself. Monkey see. Monkey do. This breakfast bread is made with hand rolled balls of sweet yeast dough. Individually dunked in melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. Baked in a bundt cake pan at high heat. Traditionally served hot so that the baked segments can be easily torn away with the fingers and eaten by hand.
I spent many hours browsing the internet. Searching for an elusive yet authentic recipe. Prepared from scratch. In favour of the well accepted short cut of using pre-packaged biscuit dough. Reproduced below is the recipe I eventually settled upon. Adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
The verdict? Delicious but unbelievably sweet and rich. So much so we could only manage to eat a little at a time. Not too difficult to make. The sweet yeast bread was light and airy. Covered by an ooey, gooey, golden caramel. So thick and rich I skipped the glaze. Definitely a special occasion breakfast treat. Perhaps next time I’ll use a mixture of brown and white sugar to cut down on the sweetness. That said an entire crown of sticky monkey bread lasted less than twenty four hours in our house. Leftovers were plucked from their crown and blitzed in the microwave for a few moments to warm through. Not too bad for a first attempt.
Sweet Sticky Gooey Monkey Bread
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
4 tablespoons ( 60 grams) butter, divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk, warm (about 45 C )
1/3 cup water, warm (about 45 C)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons salt
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
120 grams butter melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
To Make The Dough
GENEROUSLY butter a Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Use a pastry brush or a paper towel or anything that will really help get inside all of those nooks and crannies. Set aside.
IN A LARGE measuring cup, mix together the warm milk and water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.
IN A SEPARATE bowl mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir.
TURN out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating the shaggy scraps back into the dough. If you think the dough is too wet and sticky, add 2 tablespoons flour at a time and mix until the dough comes together into a cohesive ball (it should still be on the sticky side, just not overly wet).
KNEAD the dough until satiny and smooth, about 10 minutes. Shape into a taut ball.
COAT a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat lightly with the cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1-2 hours (alternately, preheat the oven to 100 C turn it off and place the covered bowl in the oven to speed up the rising time).
To Assemble the Monkey Bread
PREPARE the sugar coating. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place the melted butter in a second bowl or shallow pie plate. Set aside.
FORM the bread. Gently remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a rough 16 cm square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 64 pieces.
ROLL each piece of dough into a ball (it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it into a rough ball-shape).
TAKING one ball at a time, dip in melted butter allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl or pie plate. Roll the buttered dough ball in the brown sugar mixture, then place in even layers into the Bundt pan. Stagger the seams where the dough balls meet as you build layers.
COVER the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and let the monkey bread rise until puffy, about 1-2 hours you can use the warm oven approach again to speed this process up).
PREHEAT the oven to 180 C (remove the bundt pan from the oven if you placed it there to rise).
UNCOVER the monkey bread and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes.
COOL in the pan for 5 minutes (any longer and the bread will be too sticky and hard to remove), then turn out on a platter or large plate and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
WHILE the bread cools prepare the glaze. Whisk icing sugar and milk together in a small bowl until smooth. Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the warm monkey bread, letting it run over the top and sides of the bread.