Wife Jan has a former student coming in as a guest speaker. When he was a student he had a chance to take some of my monkey bread home to his son. he asked if I would make more—how could I refuse?
The last time I made monkey bread—a recipe I got from my mother, Claudia—Jan asked that it not be too sweet, so I made it just a little bit sweet. Knowing that my audience this time was a 7-8 year old boy, I decided to make it the way I had really wanted—all the butter, all the sugar, all the cinnamon!
Note: This may also be made as a savory bread.
After Dinner Note: The student sent me a photo of his son enjoying my bread.
Karl’s Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread II
1½ tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup milk
½ lb. butter, separate uses
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
¾ cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. nutmeg
1. In a small cup, dissolve yeast in the warm water and stir in the sugar.
Tip: Make sure that the water is just barely warm. You want it warm enough that it quickly activates the yeast, but not so hot as to kill it.
Note: If after five minutes there is not a good head of foam in your cup, your water was too hot. Discard it and start again.
2. Scald the milk in a medium pot.
Tip: To reduce cleanup, I usually microwave the milk in a two cup measure until it starts to foam toward the lip of the cup.
Note: Keep an eye out at the end of the heating time as it has a tendency to boil right out of the cup and onto the glass splash tray.
3. Add a ¼ cup of butter—1 stick—and let it melt in the hot milk.
Tip: The cold butter cools the milk enough that it will not cook the eggs when you add the to the mix.
4. When the milk is lukewarm, whisk in the eggs and yeast mixture.
5. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.
6. Make a well in the flour and stir in the milk mixture.
Note: There should be enough flour and milk to make a soft dough. if the dough is too wet add some flour, but do not stress if it is a bit dry.
7. Knead the dough for five minutes on a well floured board.
8. Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a smooth damp cloth.
9. Set the dough in a warm spot and let it rise for one hour.
10. Roll the dough out into a half inch thick sheet and slice it into ¾ inch wide strips.
Tip: Another method is to roll half of the dough into a long snake and cut the snake into 14-16 pieces. Roll the smaller pieces into thin snakes and cut them in half—into 3 inch cylinders. It is not vital that all of the pieces be the same size, variety is the spice of life.
Note: My mother usually used a cookie cutter to make identical shapes. For this bread, I thought I would make little bread snakes, twisting around each other.
11. Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.
12. Put the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a small bowl and mix them well.
Tip: Use the back of a teaspoon to grind up any lumps of sugar. You want a fairly even and fine mixture.
13. Sprinkle this sugar mixture on each piece of dough as you assemble the loaf.
14. Melt the remaining butter in a shallow pan.
15. Heavily butter a 10 inch ring mold.
Tip: I use to use an angel-food cake pan, I seem to has lost it. A deep bundt pan works well or simply a bread loaf pan will do.
Note: Do not fill the pan to the rim, but only ½ to ⅔ full. As the dough rises it will come up to the rim of the pan and rise over it with the oven spring.
16. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the sugar mixture over the bottom of the empty pan.
17. Dip each piece of dough in the butter and lay them in the ring mold, until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
Tip: You want to “weave” the dough pieces over and under each other a bit as you lay them down.
Note: Once you finish laying out your dough, the inter weaving of the dough is the just about only thing that keeps the loaf in one piece.
18. Sprinkle more of the sugar mixture over the dough pieces.
19. Continue butter dipping, interweaving and sprinkling sugar until you run out of dough.
Tip: The pan should not be more than ⅔ full or it will overflow the pan as it rises.
Note: I had deliberately made more dough than would fit into my pan, so that I would make a second loaf for Eilene and myself.
20. Brush any remaining butter over the top of the loaf and sprinkle on any remaining sugar mixture.
21. Let the monkey bread rise for 1 hour.
22. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
23. Bake the loaf for about 20 minutes.
24. Remove the pan from the oven and run a knife between the bread and the sides of the pan.
Note: The “top of the loaf” may be close to burnt at this point, but the bread surfaces that are in contact with the pan will be pale and under done. Flipping the bread out onto a wire rack exposes the rest of the loaf to the direct heat of the oven and protects the top from further burning.
25. Set a wire rack on a baking tray and flip the pan over onto the wire rack.
Tip: Give the pan a sharp rap to free the bread from the pan.
Note: The surface of the pan will have some caramelized sugar sticking to it. Remove this, with a spoon, before it cools for a treat for someone you love. If you wait until it cools, it will be very hard to remove from the pan. You may also put this “excess” cinnamon sugar on top of one of your loaves as it finishes baking.
26. Return the loaf to the oven with the baking pan and wire rack.
27. Baked the monkey bread for another 10-15 more minutes, until you have a deep brown crust all over.
28. Remove the monkey bread from the oven and leave it on the rack to cool.
Note: My mother separate the bread into pieces with two forks. I prefer to present the unbroken loaf for the dinners to tear apart,