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This Sugared Monkey Bread isn’t like any other dessert bread out there. A super fluffy pull-apart bread, with each piece coated in crunchy sugar topping rather than sticky syrup. Perfect for sharing!
Monkey bread is a classic brunch treat families have made for years. You likely have warm family memories of gathering around a warm, ooey-gooey ringed bread and grabbing off chunks to add to your plate.
I’ve decided to switch things up! Instead of using a sticky syrup, I decided to make a simple monkey bread recipe that features a crunchy sugar topping. An easy homemade dough is dipped in honey butter, then coated in sugar before being layered in a bundt pan and baked to fluffy perfection. The contrast between the soft, pillowy dough and crispy sugar topping is pretty fantastic. You have to try it!
What is Monkey Bread?
Have you ever wondered why this dessert bread has such an interesting name? The story goes that when you pull off the sugar dough balls it is like a monkey picking at their food. While that’s certainly an interesting image, it can be a little strange. That’s why the bread is also known as “bubble bread” or pull-apart bread.
I still consider this recipe a homemade monkey bread, but I’ve gone ahead and assembled the loaf in layered squares, which is generally how pull-apart loaves of bread are made.
How to Make Sugared Monkey Bread
Ready to make fluffy monkey bread? Here’s how to do it:
Proof the yeast. Place the yeast, milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar in your mixing bowl. Let stand for about five minutes, until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is slightly foamy.
Mix the dough. Add 1/4 cup sugar, the salt and 1/2 cup of the melted butter. Slowly stir in the flour (as opposed to dumping it all in at once) until you have a soft dough.
Knead and proof. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough bounces back when you press your thumb into it. About 1 – 2 minutes tops. Shape into a ball and transfer the dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with about 1tsp of olive oil or butter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Prepare toppings. Just before the hour is up, warm the 1/2 cup remaining butter and add 1 teaspoon of honey to it. Also, spread a fair amount of sugar over a large plate (about 1/2 cup) so that you can dip the dough pieces in it before baking.
Cut dough. Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and using a rolling pin, roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. With a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
Assemble & Let Rise. Dip each piece of dough in butter, then dip both sides in sugar. Layer the pieces of dough in your bundt pan, working your way around the pan. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
Bake. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Do I Have to Use a Bundt Pan?
If you don’t already own a bundt pan, there’s no need to go out and buy one just for this recipe. I used one because I felt like the ring shape is easiest for sharing and makes a pretty picture on the table. You can use whatever pan you have on hand, but you will have to adjust your baking time based on how dense your loaf is and the size of the pan. Start with the 15 min mentioned above.
- Try a muffin tin for individual servings. Just press 3-4 pieces of dough together after they have been dipped in butter and sugar. You can form them into a rough “flower” shape, then place them in a muffin tin to do a second rise before baking.
- A loaf pan makes a great pull-apart loaf. Simple stack the pieces in the pan same as you would for a bundt pan.
- Springform pan. You could also use a springform pan. However, there would be a lot of empty space in the middle without the center piece of a bundt pan to hold the pieces of dough up. In this case, simply start placing the dough around the outside edge of the pan and work your way in towards the center of the pan.
How to Know When It’s Done Baking
Especially if you are using a different pan than the bundt pan I used, your baking time might be different. The bread should just be turning golden on the edges, and you should be able to see the individual layers spreading out. If you cut into the center of bread with a sharp knife, you should see fluffy bread not uncooked dough.
If you really want to make sure the bread is cooked through, an instant-read thermometer should read about 190 F for any yeast bread.
Tips for Success
Here’s what you need to know for this easy monkey bread recipe:
- Browning too quickly? If the bread is browning too quickly on top but it isn’t done cooking through, loosely cover it with foil. This will stop further browning while the inside cooks.
- Be generous. Don’t skimp on the butter or sugar topping. These are the stars of the show!
- Add cinnamon. Instead of plain sugar, you can use an equal amount of homemade cinnamon sugar to add a bit of spice to this recipe!
Ways to Eat It
The best way to eat this homemade monkey bread is straight off the loaf standing at the counter. I’m sure you do that all the time with your baking! There’s something about enjoying fresh, warm bread without ceremony!
With the family or company, I recommend nice mugs of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. A warm mug, warm bread, and friends is one of the best things ever. Try whipping up a Pumpkin Spice or Gingerbread Latte.
You can also serve this indulgent recipe for brunch, paired with fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. If you want to go all out, serve this bread with maple-vanilla whipped cream on the side, or slathered with your favorite jam. A drizzle of honey or maple cream would be lovely as well!
How to Store
Once completely cool, you can store leftover bread in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days. It will lose some of the crunch as time goes on, but you can revive it some by giving a slice of bread a quick run through the toaster oven. About 4-5 minutes at 350F.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes! This monkey bread recipe freezes well. Let your bread cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing the bread in an air-tight, freezer-safe container. (You can also freeze individual slices like this.) The bread will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw for several hours on the counter when you’re ready to eat the bread. You can also crisp it up a bit in the oven – I recommend doing this with individual slices as directed above.
Fluffy Sugared Monkey Bread
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, 1 1/2 packages
- 1 cup milk, warm
- ¾ cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon for proofing the yeast, divided use*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1/2 for mixing and 1/2 for dipping)
- 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, for proofing the dough
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave
- Proof yeast. Place the yeast, milk and 1 tsp of sugar in your mixing bowl. Make sure your milk is warm not hot, or the yeast won’t activate properly. Let stand for about five minutes, until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture has taken on a slightly spongy appearance.
- Make the dough. Add 1/4 cup sugar, the salt, and 1/2 cup of the melted butter. Slowly stir in the flour (as opposed to dumping it all in at once) until you have a soft dough. You can do this in a mixer with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a large spoon (which is how I did it.)
- Knead and proof. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough bounces back when you press your thumb into it. About 1 – 2 minutes. Shape into a ball and transfer the dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Prepare toppings. Just before the hour is up, melt the 1/2 cup remaining butter and add 1 teaspoon of honey or agave nectar to it. Spread a fair amount of sugar over a large plate (about 1/2 cup) so that you can dip the dough pieces in it before baking.
- Prep your tools. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the insides of your bundt pan with PAM. Set aside.
- Shape dough. Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and using a rolling pin, roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. With a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
- Assemble. Dip each piece of dough in the prepared butter, then dip all sides of it in the sugar. Layer the slices of dough in your bundt pan. Work your way around the pan, holding up that first piece of dough with one hand to prevent it from collapsing. If it does fall over, it's not a big deal, simply prop it up when you've worked your way to that first piece of dough. Eventually all the pieces of dough will support each other.
- Second rise. Once you’ve filled the pan let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
- Bake and cool. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then enjoy!
More Dessert Breads to Try
- Yeasted Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
- Fluffy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls