Monday, May 3, 2010

Monkey Bread

What do you think of when you hear the words monkey bread?  Other than the strange name, I think of my mother.  We used to make this together when I was a little girl and I completely forgot about the amazing treat until about a year ago when I received a monkey bread mold as a birthday gift.   Williams-Sonoma claims monkey bread got its name from its appearance which resembles a playful group of monkeys jumbled together, but I'm not completely satisfied with this answer.  I thought it may be that pulling the bread apart resembles monkey behavior, but this answer received quite a bit of laughter.  If you have any ideas please do share!

After a 15 year hiatus, monkey bread finally made its way back into my kitchen.  I have now made it twice- once following the recipe below and a second time incorporating a bit of chocolate.  I, along with a few friends who have now tasted both versions, seem to prefer the traditional monkey bread recipe listed below, but that doesn't mean the chocolate monkey bread isn't for you!  To make the chocolate version you would simply add two tablespoons of cocoa powder to the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  I hope you try this recipe even if you do not have a monkey bread mold.  A bundt pan or angel food cake pan would also do the trick.  Additionally, Williams-Sonoma sells a great monkey bread mix, so if you are not up for making this from scratch here is your solution.  The directions for the mix differ from the version listed below, so make sure to follow whichever recipe you're using.

Monkey Bread
adapted from Williams-Sonoma 


For the dough
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 pckg rapid-rise yeast
3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp salt

For the sugar coating
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted

For the glaze
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp water 


Spray the monkey bread mold with nonstick spray.

To make the dough: Whisk together the milk, water, melted butter, sugar, egg, and yeast.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt and beat on low speed until combined.  Slowly add the milk mixture and beat for 2 minutes or until the dough comes together.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for another 5 minutes or until the dough is shiny and smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute or until smooth.  Form the dough into a ball.  Spray the inside of a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray, place the dough in the bowl and coat the surface of the dough with cooking spray.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To prepare the sugar coating: In a medium bowl stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Put the melted butter in a separate bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into an 8-inch square.  Cut the dough into 6 equal portions, then cut each piece cross wise into 8 pieces to form a total of 48 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball, dip into the melted butter and then roll it in the sugar coating.  Stack the balls in the prepared mold and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.  

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven.  Place a baking sheet on the rack to catch any drips during baking.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the plastic wrap from the mold and set on the baking sheet.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and springs back when touched.

To make the glaze: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, syrup, cinnamon, and water.  Heat, whisking until the ingredients are dissolved.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Transfer the mold to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Turn the bread out onto a plate and let cool for 10 minutes.  Using a spoon, drizzle the warm glaze over the top and sides of the bread.  Let the glaze set for about 10 minutes.  Serve the bread warm. 

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