Bake 52 Week 31: Monkey Bread

To start off, I have to apologize for the near-repeat recipe this week. When the current round of recipe dates were posted, and I saw that my date fell right within the time range that I was expecting to have a baby, I picked my recipe early and got it made so that my post would be ready to go regardless of whether I was still pregnant or not (still here, btw…any day now!). Then, a couple of weeks later, Valerie chose cinnamon rolls for her recipe, which fell two weeks before me….and happened to use the same basic sweet dough recipe that the monkey bread does. Under normal circumstances, I would have just nixed the monkey bread and chosen something different. But, since my baking and post-writing was already done–and because I was busy trying to bake ahead as many recipes as I could in anticipation of my maternity leave–I decided that we’d just have to roll with it and perfect that basic sweet dough recipe!

I chose monkey bread mainly because it’s something that I’ve heard people talk about, but I’ve never had it before and really didn’t know exactly what it was….and it uses a Bundt pan, which is something I’ve wanted to own, but never had a good enough reason to buy.  Monkey bread was the perfect excuse for me to go out and buy one!

The base recipe for this monkey bread is the basic sweet dough.  It had a slightly different texture–heavier, I guess–than the dough I’m used to working with, but I was really impressed with the end result.  It’s easy to whip up and work with and baked up nice and light and fluffy.  You start with a buttermilk/butter/egg mixture that is slowly added to the dry ingredients as they mix.  I failed to read that the buttermilk should be warm, and I worried that maybe my dough wouldn’t rise well since I added it cold.  It did take a bit longer to rise, but I didn’t ruin the entire thing, thankfully!

After rising for a couple of hours, it’s time to assemble the cinnamon balls. My balls were pretty scary looking and the sizes were anything but uniform!

The recipe suggested covering the balls with plastic wrap and just pulling out a few pieces at a time to work with.  I thought that would be a waste of plastic wrap, so I just worked fast.  I left my cinnamon mixture in the bowl I mixed it in, rather than spreading it on a baking sheet….it worked just fine and saved a dish needing to be washed.

After everything is covered in butter and cinnamon/sugar, it’s left to rise again.  Easy as pie!

Once the balls have doubled in size, it’s time to bake.  After baking, you leave it to cool in the pan for just a few minutes and then dump it out.  I was a little worried that maybe I had messed something up and the balls would all fall apart when I pulled the pan off, but they had baked together nicely and looked really pretty.  I drizzled the glaze and let them sit for just a bit before digging in….and boy was that first bite heavenly!  Monkey bread should definitely be eaten warm!  The balls pulled apart easily and were the perfect size to be satisfying….for a few minutes at least, and then you needed another!

We really enjoyed this recipe.  I’m glad that the basic sweet dough is so easy to make….I’ll definitely use it again, and monkey bread will be on the list of make-again recipes for our family.

Monkey Bread

Make sure to use light brown sugar here; dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor that can be overwhelming. After baking don’t let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stock to the pan and come out in pieces.

Bread

1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough (see below)
8 TB unsalted butter, melted

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 TB milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. FOR THE BREAD: Grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. Toss the brown sugar with the cinnamon, and then spread out over a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter, divide it into 36 even pieces, and cover with greased plastic wrap. Working with several pieces of dough at a time (keeping the other pieces covered), round the dough into tight balls. Following the photo, roll the balls in the melted butter, followed by the cinnamon sugar, and arrange evenly in the prepared pan.

Sprinkle any remaining butter and cinnamon sugar over the 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 over rack tot he middle position and heat the over to 350°. Bake the monkey bread until the top is deep brown and the caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

5. FOR THE GLAZE: Col. the monkey bread in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently turn out onto the platter and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla together in a small bowl until smooth, then drizzle it over the bread and serve warm.

TO MAKE AHEAD:
In step 3, do no let the monkey bread rise, but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours. Let the bread sit at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour, then bake as directed.

Basic Sweet Dough

This versatile dough is used to make Monkey Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, and Sticky Buns.

3/4 cup buttermilk, warm (110°)
6 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

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 standing mixer fitted with the 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 TB at a time, until the dough clears the side 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.

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4 Responses to “Bake 52 Week 31: Monkey Bread”

  1. Valerie Says:

    You shouldn’t apologize you had your recipe picked out way before mine if anything I was stepping on your toes. I was excited to make this recipe because I make monkey bread every Christmas but I just use Rhodes rolls. So I was glad to find a recipe for it. Good luck with the baby!

  2. Talesha Says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t change the recipe! I’ve been wanting to make money bread for a long time and I loved it! I’m impressed that you have pre-made meals for when baby comes! Good luck!!!

  3. Em Says:

    Monkey Bread was a great choice. This recipe was yummy!

  4. Michelle Says:

    Great pick – these were so good! Can’t wait to see cute pics of that new baby – good luck!!

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