I know some of you might be reading this, being all “WTF is monkey bread? Has she gone off her rocker?” Or perhaps, for the food bloggers who are reading this, you’re all, “WAY TO JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON, woman!” because monkey bread is the latest recipe darling of the food blog world, or so it seems.
I’m getting the impression that most people haven’t heard of monkey bread before… at least if they didn’t grow up in the South. I grew up in Virginia, but my mother is from North Carolina, and even better, a pretty small town in North Carolina. She’s been making monkey bread for my brother and I since we were wee little kids, using refridgerated biscuit dough. Once I was old enough to pop open the cans of Pillsbury biscuits myself, I was making monkey bread as often as she would let me. My group of friends and me even made it at 5 am the Sunday morning after prom… it was that popular of a dish among my friends (mostly because my mom would make it when they came over, she spoiled them like that).
If you ever wondered how many teenagers it takes to make monkey bread after they haven’t slept for 24 hours… it’s about six. And it still takes them two hours to do it.
Now that I’ve gotten over my fear of making doughs from scratch, I decided it was time to attempt monkey bread from scratch instead of falling back on the refrigerated dough. I haven’t had the Pillsbury biscuit dough in… 3 years? So I can’t say that I can really taste the difference between a scratch dough and the refrigerated biscuit dough. But you know, I made it from scratch… therefore it HAS TO BE BETTER. It’s like, a law or something.
Plus… this recipe contains 1.5 sticks of butter. Not as much as you’d see in a Paula Deen recipe… but still pretty good.
Adapted from a Kitchenette Family Recipe
Makes 15 muffins or 1 bundt pan (Serves 12)
For the dough
2 3/4 cups bread flour (plus more for kneading)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (active dry or instant)
3/4 cup warm water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
About an hour before preparing the dough, set out 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 egg to come to room temperature.
Alternatively, if you need to heat them up in a hurry because you didn’t read the directions beforehand (this has never happened to me… never ever ever) you can warm the butter by filling a drinking glass with very hot tap water, let sit for 15 seconds, then empty the glass and cover the butter with the overturned glass for 5 minutes. Warm the egg to room temp by setting the egg in a jar/bowl filled with warm water (not hot water, it will cook the egg) for 3 minutes (it helps to submerge the egg beneath the surface). Repeat with gradually hotter water for 3 minutes at a time until the egg no longer feels cold to the touch.
Combine 1 1/2 cups of the bread flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixture; whisk to combine. In a separate small bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy (see what foamy yeast looks like here and remember if yours doesn’t foam, your yeast may be expired). Whisk in the room temperature butter and the egg into the yeast mixture. Add the butter-egg-yeast mixture into the stand mixture bowl (or large bowl) containing the flour mixture. Combine by either mixing on high for 1 minute with the mixer’s paddle attachment, or using a wooden spoon and your own arm muscles until the dough comes together, approximately 1-2 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth, springy, and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Butter the inside of a large bowl. Add the dough to the buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth; let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add muffin liners to two muffin pans.
Combine 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix well. Punch down the dough once or twice and use scissors to cut off pieces of dough, about the size of your thumb. Drop the pieces of dough into the cinnamon sugar and toss until well-coated. Add 5 to 6 pieces of dough to each muffin liner (dough pieces should reach the top of the muffin tin). Once all muffin tins are filled, add approximately 1 tablespoon of pecans on top of each monkey bread.
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the brown sugar has dissolved into the melted butter. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of butter/sugar mixture onto each monkey bread. Bake breads at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until the top of the muffins are caramelized and crispy.
Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container if not consumed immediately.
NOTE: This recipe makes enough for a bundt pan of monkey bread as well, which is the original incarnation of monkey bread. If using a bundt pan, add the pecans to the pan first, then the pieces of dough, then drizzle the butter/sugar mixture on top. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes and invert onto a platter to serve.
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