Monkey Bread: delicious bite-sized cinnamon pull-aparts

A delectable recipe for Monkey Bread (cinnamon pull-aparts) from Smitten Kitchen.

The taste of a rich, warm, sugary cinnamon bun compacted into a bite-sized, pull-apart dessert.

We all know the best part of a cinnamon bun is the middle. We trudge through the outer layer of plain, unsugary bread just to get into the moist, doughy, flavourful insides. Well unravel no more, center-seekers--Monkey Bread is the answer. It is a mound of tasty, buttery pull-apart bites, like biting into dozens of cinnamon bun centers stacked together.

This is one of my all time favourite recipes to make. My discovery of this delicious mound of cinnamon balls was completely accidental. I was initially searching for a recipe for garlic knots which somehow led to garlic pull-aparts which then led to my stumbling upon a questionable recipe for Monkey Bread.

Now with this fantastic concept of cinnamon balls in mind, I headed over to my favourite recipe site, Smitten Kitchen and lo and behold, there sat the perfect recipe for Monkey Bread.

Although I’m sure the dough recipe used in the original recipe works fine, having previously discovered the perfect recipe for a cinnamon bun, I decided to replace the dough recipe from the Monkey Bread with the dough used in the cinnamon bun recipe. It has yet to fail me despite my occasional errors in measurements (e.g. adding two tablespoons of yeast instead of two teaspoons, etc.). With a few tweaks here and there and the use of a fantastic bread machine, I rolled out a delectable, soft, doughy cinnamon dessert.

Monkey Bread

Baking time: 30-40 minutes

Serving: 30 - 60 pieces

Oven: 350 degrees

Ingredients

Dough

1 cup warm milk

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup margarine, melted

3 cups whole wheat flour

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup white sugar (I used a bit less)

2 ½ teaspoons bread machine yeast

Brown Sugar Mixture

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Most recipes I found for Monkey Bread instruct you how to make the dough by hand, however, as I have a bread machine, I followed a slightly different set of instructions:

To make dough using a bread machine

Placing ingredients into the bread machine, take two tablespoons of sugar out from the original ½ cup and mix it into the warm milk. Sprinkle yeast into the milk and allow it to “bloom” for about 10 minutes. Add remainder of ingredients, eggs, margarine, salt, sugar and flour. Select “dough” setting and you’re done for the next hour and a half.

Cinnamon bun dough kneaded and risen inside the bread machine (might have used a bit too much yeast)

Once the dough is ready and risen, pop the dough out of the machine and roll it out onto a floured surface. From here, you can either pre-separate the balls by using a knife and cutting the dough into a grid of about 64 pieces (as recommended by Smitten Kitchen), or can have fun plucking out individual chunks of dough (I recommend no bigger than a teaspoon size to allow for bite-sized pieces). You can also take this time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and center your rack in the oven.

Coating the balls

When you are ready to coat the balls of dough, grab your brown sugar mix and melted butter. Then take a fork and roll or dip the ball into the butter. Make sure to allow any excess butter to drip off. Take the buttered ball and roll it into the sugar mixture, coating thoroughly and evenly.

You can then either use a well-buttered Bundt pan or a tube pan to place the balls in, staggering the balls as you would lay out bricks to ensure the balls won’t collapse when you pull out the first bite. I used a tube pan with a removable bottom. This allowed me to easily take out the Monkey Bread. If you decide to use a pan with removable pieces, make sure you place a baking sheet beneath to catch any dripping sugar. Placing a pan beneath also allows you to easily flip the dessert over after baking to allow the sugar to flow back into the dessert.

Uncooked cinnamon balls, buttered and sugar-coated with brown sugar mixture

Baking

Once you’ve used up your dough creating anywhere from two to three layers of balls depending on how big your balls are, the recipe recommends that you then plastic wrap the pan and let the sugared balls rise for about an hour. However, I found this unnecessary as the balls had already risen while I was setting them into the pan, so from here I popped the pan into the oven and baked it for about 30 minutes. You’ll know the Monkey Bread is ready when you see the tops turn a dark brown just like the inside of a cinnamon bun. You can also give the balls a jab with a fork or skewer to check if the insides are fully baked.

Two layers of Monkey Bread balls coated and left to rise for 10 minutes

Once the Monkey Bread is fully baked, pull it out and flip the pan over. This will allow for the sugary drippings to recoat the bread. Let the pan cool for about 5 minutes then remove the Monkey Bread.

A single, scrumptious Monkey Bread ball

And there you go, the perfect batch of fun-sized, pull-apart cinnamon balls. I guarantee they won’t last more than 36 hours (they lasted less than 24 at my house).

The final product: A mixture of golden and dark brown with a shiny, glazed brown sugar finish

If the Monkey Bread isn’t quite sweet enough for you, you can also make a cream-cheese glaze or frosting with cream cheese, milk, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. However, I’ve never found the need for this addition.

Let me know how they turn out!

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