Instead of hosting a Christmas party this year, we decided that it would be simpler and therefore more fun to host a post-Christmas brunch. For some reason a brunch just seems less stressful than a full evening party– maybe it’s the fact that the foods are easier to prepare, maybe it just seems more casual… in any case, that’s what we decided to do. Of course, “casual” doesn’t mean “starving,” so of course I had to come up with an appropriate selection of sweet and savory goodies. And one of the first things I knew I’d be making was monkey bread.
What’s monkey bread? Basically it’s sticky buns, but instead of swirled rolls it comes in the form of small balls of dough, each dripping with sweet, sticky, cinnamon-y goodness. It’s supposedly called “monkey bread” because you’re supposed to pick off the individual balls, much in the manner of a monkey picking at its food. Weird name and backstory, sure, but whatever, it’s delicious!
I’ve seen recipes online that use canned biscuit dough (both the flaky kind and the regular kind), but I always find those a bit too salty for this application, so I went with homemade dough instead. Totally worth it!
Monkey Bread (slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- 1 package (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) active dry or instant yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110F-115F)
- 1 and 1/4 cups warm 2% milk (110F-115F)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle your dry yeast over the warm water and let it sit for about 2 minutes. It won’t get foamy or anything since there’s nothing for the yeast to eat, but it’ll help wake things up. This step is unnecessary if you’re using instant yeast.
2. Add the milk, melted butter, sugar, and eggs, and mix together. Add three cups of flour and beat on high speed with the dough hook of the mixer for about 3 minutes.
3. Add another cup or so of the flour and continue to mix to form a dough. Continue to add flour, up to 6 cups, until the dough shifts from being soft and gooey and turns into a real dough. Keep working with the dough hook until the dough springs back when you poke it with your fingertip. (Note: It won’t spring back all the way, but it will definitely fill in the finger-poking hole by about 50%)
4. Turn dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured board, knead a few times by hand, and form into a ball. Put the ball into a greased bowl (turning to get the oil on the top of the ball as well) and cover the bowl with plastic wrap before putting in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours or so).
5. In the morning your dough will have doubled in size. Turn it out onto a cutting board, flatten to 1″ thick, and use a dough scraper to cut into about 60 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball (they’ll be about 1.5″ in diameter).
6. Spray a 10-cup bundt pan with baking spray.
7. Put 1/2 cup of melted butter into a small bowl, and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Dip each ball into the melted butter and then roll in your sugar/cinnamon mixture. Arrange in rings to fill the bundt pan.
8. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 45 minutes.
9. Just before baking, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter and combine with brown sugar and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the dough balls (if the mixture isn’t smooth, feel free to microwave it for a few seconds to make it so).
10. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes, until the interior temperature reaches 200 degrees F. (Note: I originally took mine out at about 35 minutes when it was only 185 degrees, but it was definitely underdone in the center and I had to put it back in)
9. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a large platter. Serve immediately.