Just in case you don’t know, the most indulgent, scrumptious snack and party food on the planet is monkey bread.  We were late discovering monkey bread—we made our first monkey bread about six years ago–but then we just swooned over it.  It’s that good.

Weaver_PhillyStickyMonkeyBread

 

Monkey bread is a pull-apart loaf usually baked into a ring using a bundt pan.  It’s made with yeast dough, cut into pieces, and slathered in a cinnamon-sugar mixture or a caramel sugar mixture.  When it comes from the oven, you pull pieces from the ring, covered with a warm sticky coating, and eat them with your fingers or a fork.  Think of it as cinnamon rolls or sticky buns in bite sized pieces. 

Soon after we discovered monkey bread, Debbie, our daughter, made a cinnamon bun monkey bread, filled the center with a soft cream cheese frosting, and took it to an extended family party.  She called it “the ultimate monkey bread.”  Guests tore the bite-sized chunks from the ring and dipped them in the frosting.  There were a lot of goodies at the party but her ultimate monkey bread was the hit.

Since those days, we have discovered many variations and will share two recipes with you in this article: Orange Pecan Monkey Bread, and Cherry Almond Monkey Bread.  They are both scrumptious concoctions. 

It didn’t take us long to convert recipes into mixes to sell in our store and online.  Today we offer Cinnamon Sugar Monkey BreadCaramel Nut Monkey Bread Sticky Bun Monkey Breadand Butterscotch Money Bread. Recently, we added a Garlic and Herb Monkey BreadWith pieces dipped in marinara (spaghetti sauce on most occasions) or olive oil, it makes a delightful appetizer or snack.

Monkey bread is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of precision. You have to wait for the bread to rise but there is not a great time commitment. And it’s a great kids’ project. Kids love handling and dipping the bread pieces and it really doesn’t matter how it’s put together. 

How to Make Monkey Bread: Basic Steps

   1. Mix the dough/add the goodies.

  • Monkey bread lends itself to freelancing; you don’t have to follow a recipe.
  • You can start with your favorite bread recipe. To fill a bundt pan, you will need a recipe that calls for about four cups of flour. Mix as you would another bread.
  • We usually add several tablespoons of sugar for a little sweeter bread. For an egg-rich bread, add an egg or two. You can also add cocoa, dry fruit, or nuts.

   2. Cut the chunks.

  • The easiest way to cut the dough is to roll it out on the counter to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife or pizza roller. The chunks should be no larger than walnuts.

   3. Coat the chunks.

  • There are two ways to coat the chunks: dip the chunks in butter and roll them in a sugar mixture or make a buttery slurry and dip the chunks in the slurry.
  • The chunks can be rolled in a mixture of sugar and spices and finely chopped nuts.
  • Jam, maple syrup, or fruit syrup can be used as the basis for a dipping slurry.
  • Nuts or fruit can be added between layers if desired. If you want to top your monkey bread with nuts, place nuts in the bottom of the pan since the monkey bread will be inverted onto a platter after baking.

   4. Load the pan.

You don’t have to use a bundt pan; any pan will do though tube pans and springform pans may leak.

   5. Bake the bread.

  • Bake the bread at 350 degrees or as directed by the recipe. Once baked, let the monkey bread cool in the pan for about five minutes before inverting on a platter. This gives the glaze a chance to set so that it does not run everywhere when inverted.
  • Serve the monkey bread warm and fresh.

Weaver_rosebundtpan

Occasionally we run across recipes for monkey bread made with baking powder instead of yeast.  We’ve tried it.  It may be good but it’s not to be compared with a yeasted monkey bread.

We are working on a chocolate monkey bread but haven’t yet concocted one that we have fallen in love with. We’ll keep working on it. 

Tips for Great Monkey Bread

1. Go hygroscopic. It took us a while to discover that adding hygroscopic ingredients (those that absorb moisture from the air), made for a moister, tastier monkey bread. We now add potato flour to the dough and brown sugar to the glaze. (You can buy potato flour  on our site.)  It doesn’t take much: two or three tablespoons will do. 

Weaver_ButterscotchMonkeyBread

2. Get gooey. Use plenty of butter and sugary glaze. Again, a little brown sugar helps.

3. Keep the pieces small. Smaller pieces of dough and flat pieces have more surface area to dredge in your sugary coating. Chunks should be no larger than a walnut.

4. Cover with foil. The sugary glaze caramelizes and the top may burn while baking. The simple solution is to drape a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pan during the last ten minutes of baking. The foil will reflect the heat.

5. Use a thermometer. Just because the top of the loaf is brown doesn’t mean the center of the loaf is cooked. The best way to tell is with a thermometer. When the center of the loaf reaches 185 to 190 degrees, the bread is done. (You can buy an insta-read thermometer  for around $12 on our site.)

6. Eat it fresh. Still warm is the way to go. Like all bread products, day old is not as good. You can try reheating it in an oven at 250 degrees but some glazes may become too runny so watch your monkey bread carefully.

Equipment and Ingredients

A bundt pan is the classic pan for monkey bread; it makes for a very attractive monkey bread.  Since you invert your monkey bread to remove it from the pan, a nonstick bundt pan  is essential. 

Weaver_Full-wiltonbundtpan

For individual servings, choose a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick surface  And yes, we do carry that also.  For Valentines Day, consider a heart-shaped pan.

For cinnamon monkey bread, choose the very best cinnamon  that you can find.  If you like cinnamon—and who doesn’t—try Vietnamese cinnamon   Vietnamese cinnamon is more robust with a more cinnamon-oil-like flavor. 

 We also carry cinnamon vanilla sugar,   maple cinnamon sugar,   and apple cinnamon sugar  which you can also try.

Orange Pecan Monkey Bread Recipe

This cinnamon and orange monkey bread is scrumptious. A thick slurry is made with melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange marmalade. The bread chunks are rolled in this before baking.


Weaver_OrngePcnMonkey

You can use this as a template for many other monkey breads made with jam.

Try peach pecan using a peach jam and cherry almond using cherry jam.

Ingredients

4 cups bread flour
1 seven gram instant yeast packet
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup combination water and egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons potato flour
1/2 teaspoon dough conditioner
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions

1. Place two cups of flour in the mixing bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the yeast.

2. Put the egg in a two cup measuring cup. Add enough water to bring the mixture to the 1 1/2 cup mark. With a fork, whisk the mixture until combined and then heat the mixture in the microwave to 110 degrees.

3. Add the warm water and egg mixture to the flour in the bowl and beat with a dough hook for about one minute to hydrate the yeast.

4. Add the rest of the flour, the sugar, salt, dry milk, potato flour, dough conditioner and the first teaspoon of cinnamon. Add the 1/4 cup melted butter. With the dough hook and at medium speed, mix for four minutes or until the dough is well developed. Remove to a large greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled—one hour to 11/2 hours.

5. For the glaze, to the 1/2 cup melted butter, add the marmalade, and brown sugar, the second teaspoon of cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until combined into a slurry.

6. Sprinkle a few of the nuts in a bundt pan.

7. Lightly flour a work area on a clean counter. Press the dough into a disk. With a sharp knife or pizza roller, cut the dough into walnut-sized chunks. Dip the chunks in the sugary slurry and place the coated chunks in a bundt pan. After a layer of chunks are in the pan, sprinkle some of the chopped nuts over the dough in the pan. Continue coating chunks. After another layer, sprinkle the reminder of the nuts over the dough. Coat and place the rest of the chunks. If you have any left over slurry, spread it over the dough. Cover the pan and let the bread rise until doubled.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until it tests done with an internal temperature of 190 degrees. (Cover with aluminum foil the last ten minutes to avoid over-browning.) After five minutes, invert the bread on a large plate or serving platter. Serve warm.

Baker’s Notes:

  1. We used Baker’s High Heat Dry Milk. Milk contains an enzyme that impedes the growth of yeast. High heat processing destroys that enzyme. You can use nonfat dry milk or liquid milk but the bread will not rise as quickly or be as light.
  2. The potato flour is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture rather than drying out. It helps keep the bread moist.
  3. Dough conditioner (or dough enhancer) is indispensable to the baking of great breads. It creates an enhanced environment for the growth of yeast helping to make your breads and pastries more uniform and lighter. It also strengthens the gluten structure in the dough to create a better crumb to your loaves. Our dough conditioner also retards staling and helps your bread stay fresher longer. Use one-half teaspoon per loaf.

Cherry Almond Monkey Bread Recipe

We got the idea for this monkey bread from a recipe that we found on our friend Linda Kilbride’s site, Recipe Goldmine. We drained the juice from the maraschino cherries and added that to the liquid for the bread. The result was a nice pink color, in a cherry almond bread, with a sticky glaze.

Weaver_Full-ChrryAlndMnky

 

We’ve given you a scratch recipe but our Swedish Vanilla Almond Bread  is a great alternative for this monkey bread.

 

 

 

Ingredients

4 cups bread flour
1 seven gram instant yeast packet
1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups combination juice, water and egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons potato flour
1/2 teaspoon dough conditioner
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cherry flavor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring (optional)

1/3 cup finely chopped slivered almonds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions

1. Place two cups of flour in the mixing bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the yeast.

2. Drain the maraschino cherries saving the juice from the cherries. Place the juice in a two-cup measuring cup. Add the egg. Add enough water to bring the mixture to the 1 1/2 cup mark. With a fork, whisk the mixture until combined and then heat the mixture in the microwave to 110 degrees.

3. Add the warm water-egg-juice mixture to the flour in the bowl and beat with a dough hook for about one minute to hydrate the yeast.

4. Add the rest of the flour, the sugar, salt, dry milk potato flour, dough conditioner, and nutmeg. Add the 1/4 cup melted butter and almond, cherry, and vanilla extracts. With the dough hook and at medium speed, mix for four minutes or until the dough is well developed. Add the optional food coloring to get the shade desired. Remove to a large greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled—one hour to 1 1/2 hours.

5. For the glaze, finely chop 1/3 cup slivered almonds. (A nut chopper or mezzaluna works well for this.) Add the granulated and brown sugars and mix. Use scissors to snip the cherries into pieces.

6. Melt the 1/2 cup butter and set aside. Coarsely chop the 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Place about 1/2 the coarsely chopped nuts and 1/2 the cherries in the bottom of a bundt pan.

7. Lightly flour a work area on a clean counter. Press the dough into a disk. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into walnut-sized chunks. Dip the chunks in the melted butter and then in the nut and sugar mixture. Place the coated chunks in a bundt pan. After a layer of chunks are in the pan, sprinkle about 1/4 of the cherries and coarsely chopped nuts over the dough in the pan. Continue coating chunks. After another layer, sprinkle the reminder of cherries and coarse nuts over the dough. Coat and place the rest of the chunks. If you have any leftover butter or sugar mixture, pour it over the dough. Cover the pan and let the bread rise until doubled.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until it tests done with an internal temperature of 190 degrees. (Cover with aluminum foil the last ten minutes to avoid over-browning.) After five minutes, invert the bread on a large plate or serving platter. Serve warm.

Baker’s Notes:

  1. We used <a target="_blank" href="http://www.

    <hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a>preparedpantry.com/dry-milk.aspx”>Baker’s High Heat Dry Milk. Milk contains an enzyme that impedes the growth of yeast. High heat processing destroys that enzyme. You can use nonfat dry milk or liquid milk but the bread will not rise as quickly or be as light.
  2. The potato flour is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture rather than drying out. It helps keep the bread moist.
  3. Dough conditioner (or dough enhancer) is indispensable to the baking of great breads. It creates an enhanced environment for the growth of yeast helping to make your breads and pastries more uniform and lighter. It also strengthens the gluten structure in the dough to create a better crumb to your loaves. Our dough conditioner also retards staling and helps your bread stay fresher longer. Use one-half teaspoon per loaf.

Dennis Weaver is the president of The Prepared Pantry, a full line kitchen store in Rigby, Idaho.  The Prepared Pantry sells kitchen tools, gourmet foods, and baking ingredients including hundreds of hard-to-find ingredients. 

 

Dennis Weaver can be reached at dweaver@preparedpantry.com