Most people who know monkey bread know it as something you make with canned biscuit dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar, but let’s be real- if you’re going to eat the calories, make it worth it. The dough is quite easy to make from scratch and tastes infinitely better, so when you do your grocery shopping, step away from the Pillsbury and grab some yeast instead. I don’t put any cream cheese frosting on mine, and I implore you to follow suit as the monkey bread is quite sweet without it and the added sugar and fat in the frosting would just put a flavor damper on the fabulously buttery yeasted dough.
Be sure not to make the individual balls of dough too large. Do that, and the ratio of caramelized sugar and cinnamon to dough is off, or as a good friend recently put it, you’ll have too much bread and not enough monkey.
For the dough
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups flour, plus extra if needed
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the brown sugar cinnamon coating
1 stick (1/2 cup/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1. In a small bowl or mug, mix the milk, water, and yeast and stir to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the 4 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low and stir in the egg and butter. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the milk into the mixer. Once the flour and milk have mixed together into a cohesive dough, switch to the dough hook attachment.
3. Continue mixing the dough on medium/low for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough- it should end up soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky to the touch. If it is too sticky, add a bit of flour; conversely, if it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time, letting the mixer run for a minute before deciding if you need another tablespoon.
4. Once the dough is done mixing, remove the bowl from the mixer stand and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
5. Thoroughly butter a bundt pan and set it aside. Have a medium bowl with the melted butter ready. In another medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl, degas it (just use your hands to press down on it to release some of the gas), then press it into a thick-ish disc. Cut the disc into 4 wedges. Working with one wedge at a time and keeping the other wedges loosely covered with plastic wrap, cut the wedge into thirds and then each third into about five pieces of dough (you’ll end up with 15 pieces per wedge). Gently roll each piece into a ball, then dip each ball in the butter, making sure to coat the whole surface with butter. Roll the dough balls in the brown sugar mixture, then place them in the bundt pan, layering them evenly.
7. Once all of the dough is rolled, buttered, and sugared, cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for an hour. The balls should rise to roughly double their sizes.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, uncover the bundt pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the brown sugar is bubbling around the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes, then invert the pan onto a plate and serve immediately.