Monkey bread is a gooey sweet pull-apart cake made from rounds of brioche dough coated in a buttery, cinnamony caramel sauce. It’s easy as can be to make from scratch in a loaf pan—and fun as heck to tease apart with your hands.
Adapted from Jeff Hertzberg | Zoë François | Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day | St. Martin’s Press, 2018
I think the only thing more fun than making this rich, buttery bread is eating it. Sitting there as you pluck one cinnamon-caramel-coated orb after another, you try to stop, but it’s impossible!
If that weren’t enough of a reason to start pulling out the flour and eggs, this monkey bread is drop-dead easy. So easy, in fact, you’ll want to get your kids in on the act. It’s a terrific way to rack up some family time and get the kiddos to fall in love with cooking and baking, just like you did.–David Leite
Why our testers loved this
Our testers can’t say enough wonderful things about Zoë’s monkey bread. Karen Zimmerman describes it as “lovely, soft, and buttery with the perfect amount of cinnamon and caramel coating.”
Kim G. shared it with her co-workers and had this to say, “It received rave reviews and was devoured quickly. Light, fluffy texture on the inside. It was perfect.”
Notes on ingredients
- Honey–Use mild-flavored honey for your brioche dough. Very strong honey, such as chestnut or buckwheat will overpower the flavor of the bread.
- Kosher salt–Depending on the brand of kosher salt you’re using, you may need to adjust the amount of salt added to your dough. Crystal sizes in kosher salt can vary dramatically. So if you’re using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use 1 tablespoon, and if you’re using Morton kosher salt, use 2 teaspoons.
- Unsalted butter–If you substitute salted butter in your brioche dough, reduce the amount of salt added by 3/4 teaspoon. If you substitute salted butter in the monkey bread recipe, don’t add the 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to the topping.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl. Working with one ball at a time, dip it in melted butter, then toss in the cinnamon sugar.
- Let the monkey bread rise. Place the dough balls in the prepared pan and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the topping. Melt 4 tablespoons butter, and add any remaining cinnamon sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour it over the monkey bread.
- Bake the monkey bread. Cook until golden and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before flipping and removing.
Why is it called “monkey bread?”
The origin of the name “monkey bread” supposedly comes from the notion that the pull apart bread is finger food, and those indulging in the treat would tear it apart as a monkey would. (We’re not sure if that’s an insult or compliment to monkeys!)
What can I do with the extra brioche dough?
The brioche recipe here makes quite a lot more dough than you need for the monkey bread. And that’s a good thing. Actually, it’s an excellent thing. Use the remaining brioche dough in place of the bread dough in pretty much any recipe for cinnamon rolls or sticky buns you like to make.
As noted in the recipe below, it lasts in the fridge for up to 5 days, so you have time to carefully consider all your baking options! Alternately, should you be short on flour or cutting back on carbs, the brioche recipe in the recipe below can easily be halved.
Can I add nuts or other spices to this monkey bread?
Definitely. To make pecan monkey bread, add 1 cup pecan halves to the pan after you pour in the caramel.
You can also play around with the spices that you use. Try pumpkin pie spice blend, Chinese five-spice, or a blend of your favorites, adding it to the sugar. If you use a super-intense spice, like cardamom, nutmeg, clove, allspice, or ginger, be sure to reduce it according to the intensity you want. Try starting with 1/2 teaspoon of some of those and build from there.
How can I tell when my monkey bread is done?
The monkey bread will be golden and caramelized on the outside when it’s ready, and if you have an instant read thermometer, the center of the bread should be at or above 190°F.
- To keep the dough from sticking to your hands, coat them with a little butter before rolling the balls.
- The monkey bread can also be baked in a Bundt pan or Pullman pan.
- The brioche dough can be made up to 5 days before using. The monkey bread can be assembled and risen, then refrigerated overnight, loosely covered. The next morning, top with the sauce and bake.
- Leftover monkey bread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or. frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
More great sticky bread recipes
If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
Monkey Bread from Zoë François
This caramel monkey bread is a gooey sweet pull-apart cake made from blobs of brioche dough coated in a caramel sauce made with cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar. It’s easy as can be to make from scratch in a loaf pan—and fun as heck to tease apart with your hands. It makes a great breakfast treat, snack, dessert, or even Christmas morning surprise.
Prep 45 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 7 hrs 5 mins
Make the brioche
In a 6-quart bowl or other large container, stir together the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter.
Using a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a spoon and strong biceps, mix in the flour until combined. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. (The dough will be loose but will firm up when it’s later chilled.)
Loosely cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
Refrigerate the dough until it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours, and loosely covered for up to 5 days.
Make the monkey bread
Generously butter a 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pan, Pullman pan, or Bundt pan.
Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2-pound (680-g) piece. Divide the dough into about 32 equal pieces. Roll the dough into small balls. If the dough is sticking to your hands, coat your palms with a small amount of butter.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. (Alternatively, you can microwave the butter in a small bowl to melt.) In a shallow bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Working with one ball at a time, drop the dough ball into the butter and then roll it in the cinnamon sugar. Place the balls in the prepared pan.
Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add any remaining cinnamon sugar, the brown sugar, the salt, and the vanilla.
Pour the warm brown sugar mixture over the dough balls in the pan. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil in case the caramel bubbles over the top. Bake until the surface of the bread is golden brown and seems caramelized and set, 30 to 40 minutes.
Let the bread cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Place a platter or cutting board on the pan, turn it upside down, and then remove the pan. Serve warm.
- Make-ahead–The brioche dough can be made up to 5 days before using. The monkey bread can be assembled and risen, then refrigerated overnight, loosely covered. The next morning, top with the sauce and bake.
- Storage–Leftover monkey bread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or. frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
- Monkey bread with nuts–Add toasted nuts to the monkey bread after pouring over the caramel sauce.
- Spiced monkey bread–Add your favorite warm spices, such as cloves, nutmeg, or allspice to the cinnamon sugar mixture before rolling the monkey bread balls in it.
Serving: 1portionCalories: 579kcal (29%)Carbohydrates: 68g (23%)Protein: 10g (20%)Fat: 31g (48%)Saturated Fat: 18g (113%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 176mg (59%)Sodium: 464mg (20%)Potassium: 14mgFiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 28g (31%)Vitamin A: 1086IU (22%)Vitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 68mg (7%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Recipe © 2018 Zoë François | Jeff Hertzberg, M.D.. Photo © 2018 Zoë Francois. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.