Monkey bread is actually not a bread, but a very tasty cake, with many versions. It is made by rolling yeast dough balls in butter and sugar, then baking them together as a whole cake. The pieces of dough can be pulled apart easily, hence the name.
The cake has many versions; in the Hungarian one, walnuts are added to the rolling mixture; other versions use spices, cocoa powder or caramel in the coating mixture.
In too many cases, the cake is made using commercial dough, which produces inferior results. If you’ve tried only these versions and didn’t like the cake, try the following recipe, and I’m sure you’ll change your mind. The combination of fresh, rich yeast dough, with the cinnamon-sugar coating, is irresistible.
* Buttermilk powder helps keep the dough soft and adds another layer of flavor. If you can’t find it in your supermarket, it is also available online.
* The dough is also suitable for making soft rolls, cinnamon rolls or Challa bread.
Makes: 16-18 portions
Proofing time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
For the starter:
1 cup warm milk
½ cup warm water
1 Tbs sugar
1 packet (½ oz, 7 grams) dried yeast
For the dough:
4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ cup buttermilk powder
1 stick (115 grams) butter, very soft
2 L eggs
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
For rolling the dough:
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 stick (115 grams) butter, melted
1. In a small bowl, mix the milk, water, sugar and yeast. Cover and let stand in a warm place until the yeast foams.
2. In the mixer bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt and buttermilk powder. Add the yeast mixture, along with the butter and eggs. Mix, with the dough hook, on low speed, scraping the sides occasionally, until the dough starts to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for 5-6 minutes. Add the raisins and mix again briefly. The dough will be quite soft.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Add the dough and turn it in, to cover with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 3 hours, until it doubles its volume. Punch down the dough, knead lightly, and cover the bowl again. Let stand in a warm place for 2 hours. Punch down the dough again, knead lightly and divide into 34-36 small balls.
4. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Butter a large fluted pan with a bit of the melted butter. Roll each dough ball in the melted butter and then in the sugar-cinnamon mix. Place the balls in the pan, side by side, in two layers. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Uncover the pan and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Let sit in the pan for 5 minutes, before turning it upside-down on a serving plate. Serve warm.