Why This Recipe Works: Monkey bread is a knotty-looking loaf made from rich balls of dough coated in cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter and baked in a Bundt pan. It’s traditionally served warm so that the sticky baked pieces can be pulled apart. The older recipes we found produced a delicious bread, but they were two-day affairs; newer versions favored convenience, calling for store-bought biscuit dough and yielding lean, dry, bland bread that simply wasn’t worth the time saved. We wanted a faster recipe for monkey bread that didn’t compromise on its delicious flavor and sticky, sweet appeal. To expedite the rising and proofing in this recipe we used a generous amount of instant yeast and added sugar to the dough, which jump-started the yeast. Butter and milk helped keep the dough tender and flavorful. Before assembling the bread, we rolled the balls of dough in melted butter and sugar to give them a thick, caramel-like coating. White sugar was good, but light brown sugar, with its molasses notes, made a coating that was even better. Mixing multiple spices with the sugar muddied the flavor, but a generous amount of cinnamon alone added warm character to the coating. Once the bread had cooled slightly, we finished by drizzling a simple confectioners’ sugar glaze over the top.
Makes: 1 loaf
Rising Time: 3 to 4 hours
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 to 6 hours
Key Equipment: 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan
3¼ cups (16¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, room temperature
⅓ cup (2⅔ ounces) water, room temperature
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
BROWN SUGAR COATING
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1. For the dough: Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, water, sugar, and melted butter in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to our mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping in step 4.)
3. For the brown sugar coating: Thoroughly grease 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl.
4. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and press into rough 8-inch square. Using pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut dough into 8 even strips. Cut each strip into 8 pieces (64 pieces total). Cover loosely with greased plastic.
5. Working with a few pieces of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), place on clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until dough feels taut and round. Dip balls in melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture to coat. Place balls in prepared pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
6. Cover pan tightly with plastic and let rise until dough balls reach 1 to 2 inches below lip of pan, 1½ to 2 hours.
7. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until top is deep golden brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto serving platter and let cool for 10 minutes.
8. For the glaze: Meanwhile, whisk sugar and milk in bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bread, letting it run down sides. Serve warm.
➜ View more kitchen-tested bread recipes