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Classic Monkey Bread

Classic Monkey Bread

I have always assumed that monkey bread gets its name from the fact that you need to pull it apart with your fingers to eat it, getting all sticky from cinnamon and caramel as you indulge in bite after bite of warm, sweet bread. The bread is nothing more than a big pile of dough balls that have been dunked in butter and sugar before baking. If you like gooey, sweet cinnamon rolls and warm, sugary donuts, you will love monkey bread.

There are a lot of recipes for monkey bread that use refrigerated biscuit dough. This bread is made entirely from scratch, starting with a simple, yeasted bread dough. The dough only has a little bit of butter and sugar in it to give it some flavor; the vast majority of the flavor of monkey bread comes from the butter, cinnamon and sugar  coating that the dough is dipped into. I did give in and add a tiny bit of vanilla to the dough – although you could certainly leave it out – for a little bit more flavor.

It’s helpful if you have an assistant (or child) for making this recipe, as your fingers tend to get a bit messy when working with the dough. The balls are formed by hand, loosely rolled from small pieces of dough. Each one needs to be dipped in butter and rolled in sugar before it goes into the bundt pan for baking. The process doesn’t take too long and certainly isn’t difficult, but it’s nice to have two sets of hands moving things along (plus, the dough is easier to handle if your fingers aren’t covered in butter and sugar).

Monkey bread can really be made in any size or shape of pan, but it is most often found in a ring shape, like that of a bundt or kugelhopf pan. This large ring makes for a great presentation, and it also makes the hands-on food easily accessible to a big group – making it perfect for a family brunch or other get together.

Monkey Bread, eaten

Classic Monkey Bread
1/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (.25-oz)
3 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup milk, warm (100-110F)

 2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup butter, melted

Lightly grease a standard 10-in bundt pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (all mixing can be done by hand, as well), combine warm water and yeast. Let stand for 2 minutes, until yeast is slightly foamy.
Stir in 1 cup of the flour, along with the salt, sugar, vanilla, egg, 2 tbsp melted butter and warm milk. Mix well, until dough is fairly smooth. Put the dough hook attachment onto your mixer and gradually add in the remaining flour, mixing at medium speed until dough comes easily away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough hook and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Monkey Bread, unrisen

In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar and spices. Place melted butter in a nearby bowl and get a fork out, as well.
Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and gently deflate so that dough is relatively flat (maybe 1/2-3/4 inch thick) Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut off small pieces of dough to form 1/2 to 1-inch balls (I prefer slightly smaller ones, personally). As you cut each piece of dough, roll it into a ball in the palms of your hands. Dunk each ball in butter, use the fork to remove it and transfer it to the sugar mixture to be thoroughly coated. Place all coated dough balls into prepared bundt pan.
Once all balls have been coated and places in the pan, cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let bread rise for 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

Monkey Bread, risen

Preheat the oven to 350F while the bread rises.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Bread will spring back when lightly pressed.
Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving platter. Eat immediately (or reheat leftovers), as the bread is best served warm and gooey.

Serves 10 (or 4-5 people with big sweet tooths!)

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  • mutritious nuffins
    January 30, 2009

    I love monkey bread! We used to have this frequently on Saturdays when I was a kid. And then mom decided to eat more healthily, and the rotation of the recipe went out the window. Oh well. It is nice to see that this dish is still alive and kicking in other households. It looks as good as I remember!

  • Jenni
    January 30, 2009

    I love monkey bread. I like the variation w/orange zest and cardamom. On the other end of the spectrum, I even liked the kind made from the blue tube of biscuits when a friend had made it that way.

    Once those little balls of sugary goodness are in the pan, it’s really hard to wait for that second rise before eating!

    You brought back some lovely childhood memories w/this post. Thanks:)

  • Jen
    January 31, 2009

    Many friends have made monkey bread in the past, but I have never actually given it a try. It sounds like a great treat for the cold winter. I will definitely give your recipe a try!


  • Anonymous
    January 31, 2009

    I have had the biscuit made Monkey Bread before but I like the sounds of this and want to give it a try. I am wondering if you can take the recipe to a certain step one day and then perhaps put it in the fridge so that it can be baked the next day for a nice warm morning treat. Do you think this is possible? Where would you stop in the process …. perhaps just after the coated balls are put in the pan? Maybe you would have to let it come to room temp before baking? Here’s hoping your vast baking knowledge can answer this for me. Love your blog!

  • Karen L
    January 31, 2009

    I have had the biscuit made Monkey Bread before but I like the sounds of this and want to give it a try. I am wondering if you can take the recipe to a certain step one day and then perhaps put it in the fridge so that it can be baked the next day for a nice warm morning treat. Do you think this is possible? Where would you stop in the process …. perhaps just after the coated balls are put in the pan? Maybe you would have to let it come to room temp before baking? Here’s hoping your vast baking knowledge can answer this for me. Love your blog!

  • Nicole
    January 31, 2009

    Karen – You are right that you can put the bread into the fridge and let it rise overnight before baking it in the morning. As you said, it would be just after the coated balls are put in the pan.
    I would pull the bread out of the fridge while I preheated the oven (maybe 15-20 minutes) then bake it.

  • dudeguy
    February 1, 2009

    It’s ok to have a comment.

  • Jenn's Baking Chamber
    February 1, 2009

    My mom makes these every year on christmas day and i love it, soooo good

  • Scott at Realepicurean
    February 1, 2009

    Using an endangered animal in this way is just cruel! Looks delicious though. Now off to find some fresh monkey.

  • Acai
    February 1, 2009

    Monkey bread is simple but so addicting. I have to hide it from my husband. 🙂

  • Michelle
    February 1, 2009

    Looks delish! Do you think this could be made with dairy-free margarine instead of butter? My son is allergic to milk?

  • Nicole
    February 1, 2009

    Michelle – I’m not sure how margarine would work out, but you could always give it a try and see. Please report back to let everyone know how it went!

  • Maureen
    February 2, 2009

    Try making the monkey bread, dipping the dough balls into melted butter and garlic, then rolling them in Parmesan cheese. It’s delicious!

  • Steph
    February 2, 2009

    When I was in Girl Scouts we always requested this girl’s mom to make her infamous “Plucky Cake” – we all absolutely loved it! – I tried searching for ‘Plucky Cake’ recipes so many times but never had luck; however, I recently discovered the Plucky Cake I loved so much was in fact Monkey Bread!!

  • Need A Nap2
    February 5, 2009

    I have only made the biscuit variety and I always use Parkay (margarine) and it’s always tasted delicious so I think it would work perfectly fine! 🙂

  • Rocío
    February 7, 2009

    I´m very excited! After three years living in USA, Im back in Spain. One of my favorite treats there was the Monkey Bread but I was´t sure if I would be able to make this delicious recipe without the commercial biscuit dough. Now I am going to give it a try and bake one by myself….Wish me luck!

  • cinnamon
    February 11, 2009

    I always wanted to bake a monkey bread and now reading your recipe I finely decided to do it today for may husband. Wish me luck!:):)

  • Amanda
    February 18, 2009

    I just made this recipe and it’s absolutely amazing! I had a little extra brown sugar left over, and I used a cinnamon/clove/nutmeg mix instead of the allspice (I was all out), but it’s still fantastic. Thanks!

  • Sandy
    April 20, 2009

    I am wondering if any of you have tried this with peacans? I know my late grandmother maid me some Pecan Rolls for my birhtday brought them over to me to have, but my step mom did not let me have them and threw them out, so I went over to grandma’s across the alley and told her about it, so grandma made me some more and took them to my late mother’s house that was the second house on the corner from my grandmothers. I was able to enjoy them.
    Please let me know if you have made monkey bread with pecans. I sure would appreciate it.

  • sher
    April 28, 2009

    made this recipe exactly as written; it was wonderful. thank you for this delicious treat

  • Lvpecery
    June 25, 2009

    d0gdGg comment5 ,

    July 21, 2009


  • Sachet
    August 11, 2009

    I love monkey bread my sister would make it with me as a child and now that I am older it’s something that my son and I share I love it!

  • Roha
    October 15, 2009

    actually i tried it quiet many times and it turned out to be really delicious and i recommend it…i simply love it

  • Carrie
    December 12, 2009

    My mother and I used to make this 50 years ago. We called it pull-apart cake. What warm (and gooey) memories I have of it. I thought her recipe had been lost forever. Thank you for posting it. Now I have a grandson that will soon be helping me!

  • The dough only has a little bit of butter and sugar in it to give it some flavor; the vast majority of the flavor of monkey bread comes from the butter, cinnamon and sugar coating that the dough is dipped into

  • ana of australia
    July 31, 2010

    I’m currently waiting for that second rise then into the oven they go… can’t wait. PS, it’s almost 11pm now but I’m definitely having some tonight! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’ve not got an benchtop mixer so i did it all by hand, but i trust it’ll turn out just fine. Yumm, can almost taste them already

  • Dahlia
    October 12, 2010

    I made it today and it was very good but I had loads of butter and sugar left. More than half of the suage and butter. Should I pour it over the dough balls or discard it?

  • Cherie
    January 2, 2011

    I just made this for the first time and it’s fabulous!! I’ve never had Monkey Bread in any form but I can’t imagine the pre-made dough version even touching this!

    Dahlia-I also had a ton left over. I realized it was going to happen pretty early on so after I put one layer of balls in I drizzles a bit of butter and a decent handful of sugar mixture on before adding the next layer. The leftover at the end got drizzled and sprinkled on the “top” before the final rise. Came out wonderfully!!!

  • TexasBlueEyes
    January 25, 2011

    I have never head this but I am dying to try!

  • Trieste
    January 30, 2011

    I’m waiting for the second rise to finish now, but I think I may have used yeast that was too old… It’s hasn’t really risen at all. That was a lot of work for a botch (no mixer). Hopefully it’ll still come out to some extent. =(

  • Josh
    February 5, 2011

    All I can say is YUM! and thanks! I have been living in Finland for about 9 months now and they don’t have the dough tubes here… guess I don’t need them now! really brought me back to my mommy’s cooking : D thanks!

  • Grietjie
    February 22, 2011

    Thank you!! I’ve seen this on Unwrapped and decided I just have to try it!! And as we don’t get ready-made cookie dough in my country, I am thrilled to have found your recipe!! I’m definitely going to try it! Thanks!

  • Jessy
    March 27, 2011

    This recipe is so good. Just made it tonight and everyone loves it! Thank you so much 🙂

  • Kim
    April 22, 2011

    I couldn’t decide between making hot cross buns or monkey bread, so I am going to try a cross between both. Making a typical sweet hot cross bun dough and will then prepare as per a normal monkey bread – dipping in butter then brown sugar and spice… I hope it turns out OK!

  • Beth
    July 10, 2011

    Try putting a little square of cream cheese inside each dough ball. Heavenly!!!

  • sketigal
    July 10, 2011

    I used (and changed a little bit) your recipe and blogged about it!! http://sunlitwords.blogspot.com/2011/07/gorilla-bread.html

  • Corbett Foster
    July 15, 2011

    I’m 12 years old, and a huge baker! Pies, cookies, brownies, muffins…you get the picture. I just found a bundt pan in our cupboard so I decided to look up some recipes in which I could use it with. SO glad I found this! Looks delicious! It’s raining where I live, so it’s going to be a perfect day to do this! Wish me luck!

  • Anon
    September 4, 2011

    Made these this morning. They were absolutely delicious! The taste definitely improved the fact that I dropped part of the pan on my arm and some molten sugar on my leg, ending up with second-degree burns X’D

  • Lyzz
    October 4, 2011

    This will be the second time I have made your recipe. I just LOVE it! (So does my Husband) I always use margarine, and it turns out just fine. I also season with some Chai Spice and Pumpkin Spice instead. I have your recipe bookmarked, I love it so much!!

  • Jenn
    November 7, 2011

    ive tried this twice and my dough will NOT rise after coating it.. what am i doing wrong? it’s been sitting out since 11am and its 430pm now. Im so irritated. do i need to put it in the fridge? ive kept it out on my counter with plastic wrap over it and it’s done nothing. ive tried it in a glass pan and a dark non stick pan and its done nothing. i dont get it.

  • Evelyn
    December 2, 2011

    I have a friend who wants to bake monkey bread in loaf pans for the holidays. Is this possible and at what temp. should it be baked at. Thanks for any advice.

  • Chanelle
    December 17, 2011

    Wonderful! To those with problems with dairy: I’ve made this bread twice now, once Vegan! Soy milk is easily substituted for regular milk, Earth Balance margarine instead of butter, and mashed 1/2 a banana in place of the egg. The difference will be in texture and color, but it’s fantastic either way! Thanks! One small variation I used: measure 2/3C pecan halves, then use a food processor to chop them into coarse crumbs. Mix this with your brown sugar and spices for a little extra Awesome 🙂

  • Zana
    December 25, 2011

    I’ve only had Monkey Bread made with biscuits, and it was a Christmas morning treat for years when I was growing up. I was thinking of something special to make this morning for my family, and wanted to make Monkey Bread but didn’t have any biscuits in a can. I was quite sad until I found your recipe. I tried it, and it was AMAZING! My son (14) ate about half of it by himself. Thank you for this recipe 🙂

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