Last updated on April 4th, 2014
So dangerous, in fact, that I hope you’ll help me eat the batch I made today.
Note: If you Google “Monkey Bread,” you’ll find lots of recipes that call for canned biscuit dough. But the traditional version is far more sophisticated. It’s slightly healthier, too. For it involves homemade sweet yeast dough.
Shall we make this mid-century fabulousness? Here’s the step-by-step, followed by a printer-friendly, copy-and-paste version:
Tip: Since the milk is already in a glass measuring device, just heat it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. The milk should feel warm (not hot!) to the touch.
Another tip: If you do a lot of baking, you might as well purchase your yeast in a jar, just as I do. The jar-version costs less than the little packets. It’s probably fresher, too, because only serious bakers are willing to buy jarred yeast.
And speaking of stretchy! Did you know that stretch pants and Monkey Bread were both invented in the 1950s?
I see a direct correlation between the two.
Set the ball in a large, lightly-oiled or non-stick-sprayed bowl, and then invert the dough so that its underside gets coated with the oil or spray. Let rise in a warm location until doubled in volume — about 90 minutes.
Nifty, right? I use the heating pad for nearly all of my bread-baking adventures.
These next few steps are sheer torture. For these, I engage the services of my sous-chef.
And set them, as you go, into a well-buttered or non-stick-sprayed Bundt pan. Try to stagger the layers as best you can. (If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can use any round, oven-safe dish that will hold at least 2 quarts.)
Well, I told you this was work. But just think of the calories you’re burning!
Bake on the lower middle rack of a preheated 350° oven until brown and caramelized — about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and let rest for 5 minutes.
You can eat this gorgeous thing right away — just pull it apart with your fingers — or give it a glaze.
Aunt Minnie’s Normal Glaze: 1 cup confectioners sugar blended with 2 tablespoons of milk.
Kevin Lee Jacobs’s Abnormal Glaze: 1 cup confectioners sugar blended with 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon orange liqueur. Cointreau is my favorite orange liqueur. It infuses the glaze with a brilliant burst of orange.
Well. After all that work, we have every right to eat this Monkey business.
Delicious, delicious, delicious.
Need a printer-friendly, copy-and-paste version of the above recipe? Here goes:
Real Monkey Bread
Adapted, from various sources, by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Makes enough for 8 people
For the dough:
1 cup milk, heated to 110°F
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup warm tap water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the optional glaze:
1 cup confectioners, blended with 2 tablespoons milk, OR substitute 1 tablespoon milk with an equal mount of Cointreau (orange liqueur).
Special Equipment – A Bundt pan, or any round, oven-safe dish that will hold approximately 2 quarts
Making the dough – In a one-quart measure, whisk together the milk, butter, water, sugar and yeast; set aside. In the work-bowl of a standing mixer outfitted with the dough-hook attachment, blend flour and salt briefly at low speed. Then, still working at low speed, slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour, and blend until the dough comes together. Increase speed to medium, and beat until the dough becomes sticky and stretchy — about 5 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead for exactly one minute. Then form the dough into a ball, and place in a large, greased (or non-stick-sprayed) bowl. Invert the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until double in volume — about 90 minutes.
Making the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating – When the dough has risen, melt the butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together with a fork.
Forming the dough – Tip the risen dough onto a lightly-floured surface, and pat it into an 8-inch square. Use a pastry-scraper or knife to cut the big square into 64 one-inch square. Roll each square into a ball.
Coating the dough balls – Dip each ball first into the melted butter, and then roll them around in the sugar mixture. Set each ball in the Bundt pan, staggering the different layers.
The second rise – Cover the Bundt pan with plastic wrap, and set someplace warm until the balls barely reach the top of the pan – about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F; set rack at the lower-middle position.
Baking – Uncover the pan, and bake the bread until brown and fragrant – about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool for exactly 5 minutes.
Unmolding – Set an upside-down plate or cake stand over the pan, invert the two, and remove the pan. Eat at once, or proceed to the optional glaze.
Optional glazing – In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners and milk, or use part milk and part Cointrea. Mix with a fork until thick and smooth. Drizzle the glaze of the Monkey Bread.
To serve, use your fingers to pull balls of dough away from the “cake.”
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