Sweet, Sticky, Ultra-Cinnamony Monkey Bread

Monkey bread is a knotty-looking loaf of bread made from buttery balls of sweet dough glued together with caramel.

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It might have a funny name, but monkey bread is a soft, sweet, sticky, ultra-cinnamony treat (its moniker probably refers to how it's pulled apart and stuffed into eager mouths). To expedite the rising and proofing of the dough, and ensure our bread had plenty of yeasty flavor, we used a good amount of instant yeast. Butter and milk helped keep the dough rich and moist, and a little sugar made the bread sweet enough to eat on its own. A dip in butter and cinnamon sugar gave the monkey bread a thick, caramel-like coating after its stint in the oven. And a drizzle of a simple glaze finished it off.

Monkey Bread

Serves 6 to 8

Make sure to use light brown sugar in the coating mix; dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor that can be overwhelming. After baking, don't let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stick to the pan and come out in pieces. Monkey bread is best served warm.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk, heated to 110 degrees
1/3 cup water, heated to 110 degrees
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar 2 tablespoons milk

1. FOR THE DOUGH: Grease 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with softened butter; set aside. Combine milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and place loaf or cake pan on bottom of oven. Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour and salt on low speed. Slowly add milk mixture and mix until dough comes together (if dough is too wet and doesn't come together, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour). Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Place dough in large greased bowl, coat surface with vegetable oil spray, and transfer to oven. Pour 3 cups boiling water into loaf pan in oven, close oven door, and let dough rise until doubled in size, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

3. FOR THE BROWN SUGAR COATING: While dough rises, combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.

4. TO FORM THE BREAD: Gently remove dough from bowl and pat into rough 8-inch square. Using bench scraper or knife, cut square into quarters, then cut each quarter into 16 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Working with one at a time, dip each ball in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip off, then roll in sugar mixture. Layer dough balls in prepared pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap, transfer to oven, and let rest until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 minutes to 1 hour, 10 minutes.

5. Remove dough balls and water pan from oven; adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic and bake until top of dough is deeply browned and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let monkey bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on platter and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. FOR THE GLAZE: Meanwhile, whisk sugar and milk together in small bowl until smooth. Using whisk, drizzle glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

This recipe was originally published in Cook's Country magazine and featured on Cook's Country TV on the Breakfast Showstoppers episode. Watch our show online.