Obviously, this was ridiculously good. Actually, this isn't the first time I have made Monkey bread. And the first time I made it, it was nasty gross. That is an exaggeration. But covering dough with sugar and butter isn't as easy as you might think. I mean, there is room for failure. And when I failed, it was because I used canned dough. It just was not good. The dough I picked out had these little specks of fake butter in it. It ruined everything. Made me hate Monkey bread. And my life. Because I was SO excited to make it the first time. I decided at that point, that I won't use those canned doughs ever again. Except for camping. Standards are always low for camping.
This recipe is for the dough and all. And I loved it. Another problem I had when I used the canned dough, was that the inside balls didn't cook as fast as the outside ball. I actually thought it was done, took it out of the pan, starting eating, realized the dough was raw in the middle, put it back in the pan, baked again. It was a mess. I think it might be because the canned dough was in the fridge. Then, I just took it out cold and start rolling the dough balls, coating them in butter, sugar, putting them in the bundt pan, and baking right away. The homemade dough is warmer than room temperature.
Anyways, this was my favorite part of the semi-disastrous brunch. I also do not like super sweet things. And I thought this was the perfect amount of sweetness. However, smitten kitchen also puts a cream cheese glaze over the top. I made the glaze, but kept it to the side as an optional add on. Lots of people used it. I liked it with and without the glaze.
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via smitten kitchen
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons
softened, 2 tablespoons melted)
1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4
Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200°F. When oven reaches 200, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.
Make dough: In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.
To proceed with a stand mixer, mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. (The dough should be sticky but if it is too wet to come together into anything cohesive, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.
To proceed by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball and proceed as directed.
Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
Make brown sugar coating: Place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one.
Form the bread: Flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces. I found it helpful to immediately separate them from the rest of the “grid” or they quickly reformed a big doughy square in 64 parts.
Roll each piece of dough into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. (I found a fork to be helpful for this process.) Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.
Bake bread: Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
(Servings: 8, Prep time: 3 hours, Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)