This is a type of bread that is equally fun to make as it it to eat. I remember looking up one day to find out why it called a monkey bread. It is because you have to use your fingers to break/pull small pieces away to eat. Yes! now I can’t stop but imagine a monkey pulling apart bread.
Most of the monkey bread I have seen and eaten are so sweet, with the massive amount of caramel sauce and sometimes with a glaze drizzled on top. So here I am trying to make a less sweet version as usual. If you are thinking why, well honestly I think it doesn’t have to be soaked in sugar to be tasty. Sweet enriched bread is already very tasty and all you need is a little glaze or a thin coating of caramel to round it off. The caramel sauce is another dimension of flavor and texture of course.
Saying that, I don’t mean to say it is bad to have plenty of sauce. By all means, you are free to do as you wish… ha ha I will state alternatives where necessary.
I’m using white sugar and a moderate amount of cinnamon, but you can of course use dark/light brown sugar and double the amount of cinnamon used. This will result in a much darker and a thicker sauce.
And if you think you need a little something else, you can use following to make a quick drizzle to pour over the top;
- cream cheese and lemon
- powdered sugar and water
- powdered sugar and lemon juice
You can make this on the same day or retard the dough over night. It is up to you. I have retarded overnight as usual, because that best fits my schedule and I had planned to server these for morning tea/brunch on Sunday.
Make the starter the night before. I’m using a 70 % hydrated
anywhere from 70 – 80 % hydration is okay. You can always reduce the amount of water content in the dough later, if your starter is watery.
Mix everything in a mixer/ use a spatula and then your hands. Make sure to add water gradually and stop as soon as you achieved the soft dough state. Dough might be a little sticky. Bring on to a floured surface and knead by hand (or do folds if its sticky) then get it to a almost smooth dough like shown in the picture.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm (75F-100F) place to rise. May take about 4 1/2 hours
I use my oven for this. I place a cup of boiling water in it to get the temperature and the humidity up. Replace the water with boiling water when it has turned completely cold.
This is how the dough looks after 4 – 41/2 hours proofing. It has almost doubled. At this stage you can choose if you are retarding or continue to make the bread on the same day.
If continuing, leave for another 30 – 40 minutes to proof. Punch down the dough, and continue to make the monkey bread, skip the next 2 steps
Punch down the dough and bring it to a smooth ball. Place back in the container, close tightly and refrigerate until next day. This will now retard the dough. In other words, it will continue to ferment but very slowly.
Next day, morning (5 a.m or 6 a.m) pull the dough out and let it thaw. I place this in a warm place to speed it up. Check if it is soft by poking the dough. (you can see the indents of my fingers on the dough) If it is soft, it ready for the next stage.
Take the dough out on to a floured surface, roll it out to a square roughly about 1/2 an inch thickness. This doesn’t have to be exact.
Cut the dough into tiny squares. roughly about 1 ” by 1″. they can be of different sizes and shape, don’t worry
Prepare a 10 cup pan of your choice by applying a coating of non stick spray or butter on the inside.
I’m using a 12 cup heavy bundt pan
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Make the cinnamon sugar by combining 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp of ground cinnamon.
Use dark or light brown sugar if you prefer a deeper caramel flavor.
If using brown sugar, you might need about a cup of sugar as they stick more
Melt 4 tbsp of butter and cool it down
Dip the dough pieces in butter and then in cinnamon sugar mixture and place in the prepared pan. Do not press down.
keep the leftover butter and sugar
Pack the dough pieces loosely. Try to evenly spread around the tin. Now this is ready for the final proofing. Loosely cover the top with a plastic or a tea towel and place in a warm, draft free area
I use the oven again, with a cup of boiling water placed in.
Final proof may take another 3-4 hours
You will know it’s proofed, when the dough pieces have puffed up to fill 3/4 of the tin.
preheat the oven to 350 F
Melt the left over butter, if there is any and dissolve any remaining sugar. Pour this mixture around the pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool off on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
Turn out on to a plate and let this cool down until you can touch with your fingers.
You can store this in a air-tight container for up to two days in room temperature
Decorate with a preferred choice of drizzle or a dusting of icing sugar