While I am on the theme of Holiday morning foods, whether its Christmas, Christmas Eve or New Years or just because, I thought I would include a revised version of Monkey Bread, an all time favorite. I posted this 3 years ago and noticed things I have changed since then. So here it is updated and ready for your little monkeys.
I have um-teen baking books at my fingertips. Far more than any normal person needs. But I never realized that not one of them has a good monkey bread recipe! One has a savory monkey bread. One has an old-fashioned one with just butter. Pa-lease! This version should be in every baking book. So you will be getting my version, the one in my head that I got from who knows where.
What is it you may ask? Monkey bread is a pull apart sweet bread, like simplified cinnamon rolls! There are really just 3 parts. The bread, the coating, the baking. If you want you can make a simple caramel to pour over to make it even more gooey. Okay, that would be a 4th part. But such an easy part. Really just butter and brown sugar melted together. Ummm, butter…
What kind of pan should you use? Well, its needs to be something that can hold lots of balls of sugar coated dough. There are monkey bread pans you can buy. I have one my mother found in her cupboard from who-knows-where made in Italy of all places! A little Italian sticker is still partially on the side of it. You don’t have one of those? Any kind of coffeecake pan, Bundt pan, or even a loaf pan will do. Usually the dough recipe makes as much dough as you would use to make a loaf of bread which is small enough to just use a regular loaf pan. Or you can use 2 smaller loaf pans. You could even use large muffin cups, the kind you make ubber large Texas size cupcakes in. You would just put about 6-7 dough balls (I hesitate to call them ‘monkey balls’) in each cup.
What ever you use, make sure it can fit several layers of dough balls and rub a little oil or shortening, coconut oil or even spray inside of it.
Part 1 BREAD
A lot of recipes suggest using frozen bread dough. And it would work. But if you want good monkey bread, you should make your own dough, and it is so easy. Frozen bread dough will give you fairly dry, bready, tasteless dough. Not the soft moist monkey bread you are craving.
If you have a bread machine you can use the recipe that came with it, a sweet dough recipe that is in all the bread machine books. It usually starts with water, butter, flour, sugar, etc.
Or you can use my sweet dough recipe. The one I use for sticky buns, which will work wonderfully. If you use it in your bread machine on dough only cycle, it will beep when it ready to be monkeyed around with.
If you make it by hand or standing mixer, after being mixed and kneaded, let it raise for about an hour. Now it is ready to play with.
Part 2 THE COATING
Melt 1 cube of butter, cooling slightly.
Deflate your raised sweet dough. Pat it or roll it out on a floured counter into, well, any shape will do. The idea is to take a pizza cutter or bench scraper or large knife and cut the dough into pieces. Cut it into slices going one way, then cut it going the other. However small the pieces are, that’s how small your monkey, um, buns will be.
Dip the ball of dough into the butter, shake off the excess and roll in the sugar mix. Lay each sugar-ball into the pan, piling them up and around each other in no particular pattern. It does not have to fill the pan, but you want at least 2 layers, or 3, depending on your pan size and the amount of dough you made. Once the pan is full and your dough is gone, drizzle any left over melted butter over them all and sprinkle any left over sugar. That will make a nice syrup when you turn it out onto a plate.
Cover with Saran and let rise, about 1 hour.
Part 3 THE BAKING
Pre-heat oven to 350. Place a piece parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put your pan on that. If any sugar syrup drips, you don’t want it on the bottom of your oven. Burny-smokey!
Place the whole shebang in the oven and bake, umm, until brown, not too light brown or the inside wont be baked. I would say start checking after 25-35 minutes. Let it cool in pan for 1 minute, then invert (dump upside down) on the parchment or a serving dish.
Part 4? THE SYRUP
If your monkeys don’t look quite sticky enough, (or even if they do) get a small saucepan out and make a little syrup to pour over the top. (Or I sometimes will make a plain icing, powdered sugar mixed with water or milk and mixed until pourable, for the top.) Usually I keep it plain. I just don’t have any good pictures of recent batches. I bake them early and take them to our church bake sale and am too busy to think photos. Or we eat them too fast.
Melt 1 cube of butter and add 1/3 cup brown sugar, heat and mix with a whisk, until blended with some bubbles around the edges. Remove from heat and carefully pour out all over your monkey bread. It’s that simple. You like nuts? Okay, chop some pecans or walnuts, toast them slightly in a skillet and mix them into the syrup before pouring on top.
Go “oo-oo, ah-ah” as you burn your fingers trying to pry off some balls of heavenly goodness before they are cooled enough. Gosh, I think I need to make them tomorrow, they sound too good. Eat one for me, huh?