How to Make Monkey Bread
Tips, Techniques, and Recipes
Dennis Weaver & Debbie Frantzen
We've been making monkey bread for years. Obviously, we love it. It's a family treat, we take it to parties, and it's perfect for holidays. It's easy, we can be creative, and it doesn't take a great investment of time. Now we would like to share some of what we've learned. We'll tell you how, answer your questions, help you choose a mix or a recipe, and recommend pans. We hope you enjoy making monkey bread for years to come.
But before we dive into making monkey bread, we would like to tell you about making monkey bread with kids. They love it. 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. And since there's not a lot of precision involved, let them make it their way. Both you and the kids will have fun.
Now back to making monkey bread.
How to Make Mini-Monkey Breads
It's fun to make mini-monkey breads, small enough for individual servings. You can do so in a standard muffin pan. One of our mixes, makes 24 of these breads. Mix them in accordance with package instructions but bake them for only 15 minutes (or until done). After removing the pan from the oven, let them sit for three minutes. After three minutes, invert the pan upside down over a baking sheet. Because the sugar is still melted, the breads should slip out.
Basic Steps for Successful Monkey Bread
Though monkey bread is easy to make and the actual preparation time is modest, you do have to wait for the bread to rise. Allow yourself enough time.
Mix the dough and add the goodies. Monkey bread lends itself to freelancing; you don't have to follow a monkey bread 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.
Cut the chunks. The easiest way to cut the dough is to roll it out on the counter and cut across the dough with a sharp knife. The chunks should be no larger than walnuts.
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 of melted butter and sugar and cinnamon and dip the chunks in the slurry. For cinnamon monkey bread, dip the chunks in butter and roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
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.
Load the pan. You don't have to use a bundt pan; any pan will do though tube pans and springform pans may leak. You can use a jumbo muffin pan to make individual desserts.
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 up a bit so that it does not run everywhere when inverted. Serve the monkey bread warm and fresh.
Should You Choose a Mix or a Recipe?
Consider these mixes:
Either a mix or a recipe works. A mix, of course, is more convenient and is a proven product. In a mix, everything is assembled and is in the right proportions. But you can make fine monkey bread from a recipe. Here's what to look for in a recipe:
- The bread for a monkey bread is usually a little richer than a sandwich bread and often made with an egg. Because there is so much butter in the coating, extra butter in the loaf is not necessary.
- Make sure the recipe is sized for the pan. A recipe calling for 4 to 4 1/2 cups of flour will fill a bundt pan nicely.
- Make sure there is plenty of cinnamon and sugar for the coating. If you are cutting the dough into small pieces, it takes a lot of coating. For our mixes, we use about a cup and half of cinnamon sugar.
Traditional cinnamon monkey bread showcases cinnamon. Make certain that you are using the very best cinnamon that you can find.
Can I Use My Bread Machine?
By all means, use your bread machine. Nearly all bread machines have a dough setting—that's the setting that you want to use. Your machine should “beep” when it is complete. Be sure and get it out; if you let it rise in your machine it will overfill the machine and you'll have a sticky mess.
Once you remove the dough from your bread machine, roll it out, cut it into chunks, coat the chunks and proceed as the recipe or mix directs.
Choosing the Right Pan
Let's talk about the pans that you don't want to use. Generally, you won't want to use an angel food cake pan or a springform pan. All that sugar coating in the pan is going to melt. Most springform pans and angel food cake pans do not have a tight enough seal at the sidewall to bottom intersection to keep the goo in. You're going to have a mess.
A nonstick pan or a silicone pan is preferable to a standard pan. When you invert your monkey bread, you want it to release completely and easily.
A bundt pan is the classic pan for monkey bread; it makes for a very attractive monkey bread. On our site, we sell several very good bundt cake pans including a silicone pan and a rose patterned pan. If we had to choose one pan for monkey bread, it would probably be the silicone bundt pan. It has the surest release. Even if the phone rings and we forget to get the monkey bread out of the pan before it sets up, we can always peel a flexible bundt pan off.
For individual servings, choose a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick surface. And yes, we do carry that also. For valentines, consider a heart-shaped pan.
You can make your monkey bread in a loaf pan. Most recipes and our mixes are two large for a standard bread loaf pan. Two medium or small loaf pans might work. If you want one big loaf, consider our angel food cake loaf pan. It's about the right size though not nonstick.
The Secrets of Great Monkey Bread
We've made a ton of monkey bread. And yes, we've learned from experience. We offer six secrets to super success with your 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 in nearly all of our recipes and mixes. (You can buy potato flour on our site.)
- Get gooey. Use plenty of butter and a 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 $10 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.
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