Monkey bread is a pull-apart loaf usually baked into a ring using a bundt pan. It’s made with yeast dough, cut into pieces, and slathered in a cinnamon-sugar mixture or a caramel sugar mixture. When it comes from the oven, you pull pieces from the ring, covered with a warm sticky coating, and eat them with your fingers or a fork. Think of it as cinnamon rolls or sticky buns in bite sized pieces.
Soon after we discovered monkey bread, Debbie, our daughter, made a cinnamon bun monkey bread, filled the center with a soft cream cheese frosting, and took it to an extended family party. She called it “the ultimate monkey bread.” Guests tore the bite-sized chunks from the ring and dipped them in the frosting. There were a lot of goodies at the party but her ultimate monkey bread was the hit.
Since those days, we have discovered many variations and will share two recipes with you in this article: Orange Pecan Monkey Bread, and Cherry Almond Monkey Bread. They are both scrumptious concoctions.
It didn’t take us long to convert recipes into mixes to sell in our store and online. Today we offer Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread, Caramel Nut Monkey Bread, Sticky Bun Monkey Bread, and Butterscotch Money Bread. Recently, we added a Garlic and Herb Monkey Bread. With pieces dipped in marinara (spaghetti sauce on most occasions) or olive oil, it makes a delightful appetizer or snack.
Monkey bread is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of precision. You have to wait for the bread to rise but there is not a great time commitment. And it’s a great kids’ project. Kids love handling and dipping the bread pieces and it really doesn’t matter how it’s put together.
How to Make Monkey Bread: Basic Steps
1. Mix the dough/add the goodies.
- Monkey bread lends itself to freelancing; you don’t have to follow a recipe.
- You can start with your favorite bread recipe. To fill a bundt pan, you will need a recipe that calls for about four cups of flour. Mix as you would another bread.
- We usually add several tablespoons of sugar for a little sweeter bread. For an egg-rich bread, add an egg or two. You can also add cocoa, dry fruit, or nuts.
2. Cut the chunks.
- The easiest way to cut the dough is to roll it out on the counter to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife or pizza roller. The chunks should be no larger than walnuts.
3. Coat the chunks.
- There are two ways to coat the chunks: dip the chunks in butter and roll them in a sugar mixture or make a buttery slurry and dip the chunks in the slurry.
- The chunks can be rolled in a mixture of sugar and spices and finely chopped nuts.
- Jam, maple syrup, or fruit syrup can be used as the basis for a dipping slurry.
- Nuts or fruit can be added between layers if desired. If you want to top your monkey bread with nuts, place nuts in the bottom of the pan since the monkey bread will be inverted onto a platter after baking.
4. Load the pan.
- You don’t have to use a bundt pan; any pan will do though tube pans and springform pans may leak.
5. Bake the bread.
- Bake the bread at 350 degrees or as directed by the recipe. Once baked, let the monkey bread cool in the pan for about five minutes before inverting on a platter. This gives the glaze a chance to set so that it does not run everywhere when inverted.
- Serve the monkey bread warm and fresh.
Occasionally we run across recipes for monkey bread made with baking powder instead of yeast. We’ve tried it. It may be good but it’s not to be compared with a yeasted monkey bread.
We are working on a chocolate monkey bread but haven’t yet concocted one that we have fallen in love with. We’ll keep working on it.
Tips for Great Monkey Bread
- Go hygroscopic. It took us a while to discover that adding hygroscopic ingredients (those that absorb moisture from the air), made for a moister, tastier monkey bread. We now add potato flour to the dough and brown sugar to the glaze. (You can buy potato flour on our site.) It doesn’t take much: two or three tablespoons will do.
- Get gooey. Use plenty of butter and sugary glaze. Again, a little brown sugar helps.
- Keep the pieces small. Smaller pieces of dough and flat pieces have more surface area to dredge in your sugary coating. Chunks should be no larger than a walnut.
- Cover with foil. The sugary glaze caramelizes and the top may burn while baking. The simple solution is to drape a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pan during the last ten minutes of baking. The foil will reflect the heat.
- Use a thermometer. Just because the top of the loaf is brown doesn’t mean the center of the loaf is cooked. The best way to tell is with a thermometer. When the center of the loaf reaches 185 to 190 degrees, the bread is done. (You can buy an insta-read thermometer for around $12 on our site.)
- Eat it fresh. Still warm is the way to go. Like all bread products, day old is not as good. You can try reheating it in an oven at 250 degrees but some glazes may become too runny so watch your monkey bread carefully.
Equipment and Ingredients
A bundt pan is the classic pan for monkey bread; it makes for a very attractive monkey bread. Since you invert your monkey bread to remove it from the pan, a nonstick bundt pan is essential.
For individual servings, choose a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick surface. And yes, we do carry that also. For Valentines Day, consider a heart-shaped pan.
For cinnamon monkey bread, choose the very best cinnamon that you can find. If you like cinnamon—and who doesn’t—try Vietnamese cinnamon. Vietnamese cinnamon is more robust with a more cinnamon-oil-like flavor.
Recipes and Mixes
These are our favorite recipes:
These are the mixes that we currently have available: