In December Bon Appetite published a recipe for Monkey Bread that caught Suzi’s eye. Maybe it was the caramel topping. Maybe the very rich brioche dough. We’ve made it three times now, counting today. It’s that addictive. Some hot chocolate or steaming coffee and this bread is an ideal start to any morning, especially the ones we have now with the lovely chill factors below zero.

There are a couple of secrets to making this dish as super as it can be. First, make the dough, cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, take it out, allow to warm to room temperature, then put it in a lightly heated oven for a final hour of proofing. Time and temperature are the secrets to creating a dough that is soft, luscious, and unforgettable.

The recipe calls for that caramel topping. We’ve never had the patience to wait for that step. The aroma is too intense. You don’t cut this bread. You pull off the cinnamon balls. A little butter is totally appropriate!


Super Monkey Bread

Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for bowl
  • ⅓ cup whole milk
  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • 3 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Assembly:

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, plus more for pan
  • Sanding or granulated sugar (for pan)
  • Prepared caramel sauce (for serving, optional)

Preparation:

Dough:

Beat 1 cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until butter is smooth and pliable but still cold, about 1 minute. Scrape into a medium bowl; set aside. Save mixer bowl because you’re going to use it again in a minute (no need to wash).

Gently heat milk in a small saucepan over low until warm to the touch but not steaming hot. It should be 110°–115°. Whisk milk and yeast in a small bowl to dissolve yeast, then let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk flour, sugar, and salt in reserved mixer bowl to combine. Add yeast mixture and eggs, fit bowl back onto mixer, and beat on low speed with dough hook, gradually increasing mixer speed to medium as dry ingredients are incorporated, until dough comes together around hook. Continue to mix on medium speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Add more flour by the tablespoonful as needed if dough isn’t pulling away from bowl cleanly.

With motor running, gradually add reserved butter about a tablespoonful at a time, waiting until it is absorbed before adding more. This process can take several minutes, so be patient. When you’re done adding the butter, the dough will be extremely smooth, soft, and supple but not sticky. Place dough in a large buttered bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm, draft-free spot until nearly doubled in size, 55–65 minutes.

Uncover dough and punch down several times to deflate. Line a 13×9″ baking dish with plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang on all sides. Place dough in pan and press into an even layer, working all the way to the sides of the pan. Fold plastic up and over dough, eliminating air pockets between dough and plastic. Chill dough in freezer until firm to the touch, 20–30 minutes.

Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead. After punching down, pat into plastic-lined pan and chill in refrigerator instead of freezer.

Assembly:

Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl to combine. Lightly brush tube pan with butter. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, tapping out excess; set aside. Remove dough from freezer and peel back plastic. Brush entire surface with melted butter and sprinkle generously with some cinnamon sugar. Shake excess sugar back into bowl, then invert baking pan and turn out dough onto work surface sugar side down. Remove plastic; discard. Brush other side of dough with butter and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Use a pizza cutter or a chef’s knife to cut dough into a 12×6 grid.

Working relatively quickly so dough doesn’t become too soft, separate pieces and, working one at a time, roll lightly between your palms into balls, dusting with more cinnamon sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Place in prepared tube pan as you go. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft-free spot until pieces have swelled to nearly doubled in size, 40–50 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° a little before monkey bread is ready to bake.

Remove plastic from pan and bake monkey bread until golden brown, 25–35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then use a small offset spatula to loosen monkey bread from sides of pan. Pull bottom out from pan and use spatula to loosen bread from bottom. Slide bread back into pan; invert onto a plate and remove pan. Place a wire rack over bread and invert right side up onto rack. If using a Bundt pan, just invert directly onto wire rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Pour about ½ cup caramel sauce over monkey bread if desired. Serve with more sauce alongside for dipping.


Source: Bon Appetite, 2017

Photo Information [Top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑1600

Photo Information [Bottom]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2000