A lesson in cinnamon pull-apart bread: Monkeying around

OK, class, today we’re going to make cinnamon monkey bread.

Never baked with yeast before?

Read on…

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Yeast baking is child’s play, really.

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In fact, it’s the subject of one of the kids’ classes we teach at our Baking Education Center here in Norwich, Vermont.

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Robyn Sargent, one of our crew of seasoned instructors and a mom herself, teaches a lot of the kids’ classes.

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Jess Meyers — who used to man our Bakers’ Hotline, and now teaches at the school — often pitches in as an assistant when she’s not teaching. She’s a mom, too. Moms are REALLY good at figuring out what needs to be done, and doing it.

Here Jess is using a thermometer to make sure the kids’ bread is thoroughly baked, preparatory to the next step:

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The fun part…

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Icing!

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Taste-testing is always encouraged.

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As are fun colors.

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The kids took time to decorate their take-home boxes while the bread finished cooling.

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Then they watched Robyn drizzle blue icing on her cinnamon bread…

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…and proudly showed off their loaves, before adding their own wildly colored icings.

Ready to jump in? Know a kid who’d like to help? Monkeying Around Bread is a fun, easy, TASTY introduction to yeast baking.

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Let’s start with the topping/filling. Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon till thoroughly combined. Best way?

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Shake it up, baby. Here we’ve used a covered yogurt container.

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It does a good job, eh? A few shakes is all it takes; much faster than a fork or whisk and bowl.

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Next, we’ll make the dough. Combine 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.

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Whisk till well combined.

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You’re going to add 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, but not all at once. Add 1 cup to start.

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Stir to combine…

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Then add the other cup.

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Stir to make a cohesive dough.

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Next, you’re going to knead the dough. You can do this by hand, but in the test kitchen we’re always in a hurry and have about three things going at once, so we used a stand mixer or bread machine to knead dough.

First, mix the dough for 1 minute, using the beater attachment.

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Scrape the sticky dough from the sides of the bowl. Let it rest for 5 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, which will make kneading easier and smooth the dough out more quickly.

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Knead for 7 minutes, using the dough hook. Notice how it still sticks a little bit to the sides of the bowl; that’s OK. Up to a point, the stickier your dough, the higher-rising and moister your bread.

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Now we’re going to let the dough rise. I’m spraying an 8-cup measure with non-stick vegetable oil spray, so the dough doesn’t stick. Everbake is our test-kitchen favorite. We use it for everything; it’s especially good for pans, as it doesn’t make your pans all tacky and dark, like some sprays do.

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Put the dough into the container, patting it down gently. Be sure to put a cover on the container, so it doesn’t dry out. A (non-soapy!) shower cap works well here.

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Let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it’s grown to about twice its size.

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Next step: spray an 8” cake pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Here’s the Everbake at work again.

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Spray your clean work surface, too. I’m using a silicone mat here, which keeps your counter from getting all full of flour and cinnamon and stuff. When I’m done, I just take it to the sink and rinse it off – certainly makes cleanup a snap.

Have a bowl of water, and your bowl of cinnamon-sugar ready.

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Take your dough, and put it onto your lightly greased work surface. No need to consciously deflate it; it’ll deflate itself a bit as you move it around. Pinch off pieces about 1 1/2” in diameter.

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Don’t make yourself crazy here; the pieces can actually be whatever size you want. But 1 1/2” is a good, medium-range size.

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Dip the piece of dough in the water…

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…then roll it around in the cinnamon-sugar. Place it in the pan.

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You can make all the balls first, if you like, then dip them.

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Here they are in the pan.

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If you have cinnamon-sugar left over, sprinkle it over the dough balls.

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Like this.

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Cover the pan. There’s that shower cap again!

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Let the dough balls rise, again for about 30 to 60 minutes, till they’re noticeably puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350°F.

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Bake the buns (uncovered) for 25 to 30 minutes, till they feel set. When you poke one, it shouldn’t feel soggy. Toward the end of the baking time, get out a cooling rack, and set it on the counter.

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Remove the monkey bread from the oven. Working quickly…

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Turn the pan over, onto the rack. Lift the pan off. If there’s any sticky syrup in the bottom of the pan, use a spatula to scrape it onto the buns.

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As soon as the bread is cool enough not to burn your fingers, pull it apart.

Or, Plan B: Do like the kids at our Baking Education Center do. Let it cool completely,  turn right side up, and drizzle with confectioners’ sugar icing — wild colors optional.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Monkeying Around Bread.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Macrina Bakery, Seattle: Cinnamon monkey bread, $3.96/lb.

Bake at home: Monkeying Around Bread, 66¢/lb.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Erin H.

    I love making monkey bread with my 3 year old on the weekends in the winter, although we certainly could do it in the summer too. She is more of a “sampler” kind of helper, but we definitely have a good time! :) I usually dip our dough balls into melted butter, but my waistline will like dipping in water much better! :) Thanks

    Reply
  2. Jen

    I just posted Monkey Bread on my site today. Although it’s the cheat kind where you use store bought biscuits!

    NICE pictures, Jen – very yummy looking. I used to love those cinnamon rolls in a can. My mom would let me smear the icing on the hot rolls… PJH

    Reply
  3. Joey D.

    Just out of curiosity… what icing do they use in the Baking Ed Center? I’m assuming simple fondant with confectioner’s sugar, milk, butter, flavor extract, and a little food coloring? Or is it something a little more fun? Thanks in advance!

    For the kids, I believe it was just confectioners’ sugar, milk (maybe cream), and food color – nothing fancy, Joey – PJH

    Reply
  4. AJ

    I used to make this all the time, even had a young teenager down the
    block request this for his birthday cake. I always made it for their
    Christmas morning as a gift.

    Reply
  5. Parin

    Is there anyway that you could prepare the monkey bread the night before and then pop it in the oven the next morning?

    Sure, I think that would work just fine – make it up to the point the balls are in the pan, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Next day, if they’re sufficiently risen, pop right in the oven (you’ll need to bake probably 5 minutes longer). If not sufficiently risen, let them rise awhile longer before baking. Good idea! PJH

    Reply
  6. Memoria

    Could you also place the shapened, refrigerated balls in a cold oven and then let it heat up with the dough in there? That way they can rise and bake at the same time. Just wondering…

    Depends on how your oven preheats. Our ovens here in the test kitchen preheat by the upper element burning really hot; if we put anything into the oven before it’s preheated, it burns to a crisp on top. But if your oven heats gradually, sure, that would work fine. Good idea! PJH

    Reply
  7. Melinda

    I grew up making Monkey Bread with the canned biscuits and was wondering if I could do it with yeast dough. You just answered my question! Off to make some for my kids. Thank you!

    You’re welcome, Melinda…. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  8. Elizabeth

    Thanks PJ… I needed a recipe for a small batch of cinnamon rolls and this same recipe can be used for dinner rolls also, right?

    Absolutely, Elizabeth – enjoy. PJH

    Reply
  9. Jean

    Can I use KAF Baker’s Cinnamon Filling instead of cinnamon+ sugar to roll the dough balls in? Seems like it would make a yummy, gooey glaze in the bottom of the pan. What do you think? Thanks for this recipe — can’t wait to try it!

    Absolutely, Jean. I’ve never tried it, but I think it would work just fine. Let us know… PJH

    Reply
  10. Amy A

    I made some this morning and they were good, but a little dry. Maybe I added too much flour????

    Could be. Or a bit overbaked? Try, try again… even the mistakes are tasty. Try reheating VERY briefly in a microwave in which you’ve boiled water to create steam. Eat immediately. Might help? PJH

    Reply
  11. Lori

    Yes!! I have been thinking about checking around for a “homemade” version of the biscuit dough-monkey bread. Thank you~
    Lori

    p.s. I’m sure my kids will be thanking you tomorrow!!

    Reply
  12. Kathy

    I never thought I could make anything so delicious. The directions were not hard to follow. I feel like I can say look what I did. I will make the Monkey Bread again and maybe share them with my friends (Like I said maybe if there’s any left. Thank-you

    Great, Kathy – glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for sharing, too. That’s what baking is all about – if there’s any left! :) PJH

    Reply
  13. Weaver

    Spectacular recipe (as usual)!!! We’ve been making monkey bread out of canned biscuits ever since my mom bought our first microwave (maybe 86 or 87?) from JC Penneys which came with 2 cooking classes to learn how to use this “fabulous new kitchen tool” :) (yes, we “baked” the monkey bread in the microwave. the cinnamon hid the fact that they didn’t brown) Your recipe is a million times better! Now to try to stop the kids from making them every single day :) Thanks again for another great one!

    Interesting how many people had that canned biscuit dough monkey bread recipe – must have been wildly popular back in the day. But this one is simple enough – and minus all the chemicals they put in those canned biscuits. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  14. Lesley

    Growing up in eastern MA in the seventies, the bakeries sold something called monkey bread that wasn’t anything like this recipe. It came in sliced loaves like sandwich bread and it had a random swirl of something buttery and salty insided. We ate the slices plain for a treat. Does anybody else remember this, or have any idea how it was made?

    Lesley, I grew up in Eastern Mass. in the late ’60s. Was it bubble bread? It’s made like monkey bread with the stacked balls, but they’re dipped in butter and cheese – I think that’s what the butter/salty taste you remember was. Sound right? PJH

    Reply
  15. Brenda

    Mom always called it golden crown. Think the dough is about the same, but it was dipped in butter, then cinnamon/sugar mixture (light on the cinnamon), and finally chopped walnuts.

    Reply
  16. Steph

    Wow!! I’m definitely giving this a try. Most of the recipes I’ve found used canned biscuits so I”m excited about this one

    Reply
  17. Marsha

    Can I double this recipe and make in the monkey bread pan that I purchased from The Baker’s Catalouge?

    Yes, it will work just fine. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  18. cindy leigh

    ohhhh….. did everybody get the e-mail about the great sale? Up to 25% off? I usually keep a running list of needed and wanted ingredients on my blackberry until I see this or the free shipping promotionals. New to my list is the vanilla crush. When I go back thru a few blog posts I know I’ll see some other new goodies I just HAVE to try.
    OK, here’s my favorite KA thing lately. Becuase I have given up drive thru (expensive) coffee in favor of using my Keurig before leaving for work, I flavor my own coffee with a few drops of KA Praline and Cream flavoring or Pecan flavoring. Sometimes with a few drops of butter extract. Either hot coffee or iced coffee, these KA flavorings are WAY better than anything that can be found in the store. So for a 50 cent K Cup, a dash of milk or coffee creamer, and a drop of flavoring, I’ve got gourmet to go.
    Cindy

    Reply
  19. Deb

    The biscuit version was very popular in IN several years ago. I always liked the yeast bread type better. One of the recipes used a hot roll mix and of course melted butter. Some one said they doubled the recipe and put in a 9 x 13. What always worked well for my larger recipe was to place the dough balls in a bundt pan. It looks great on a serving plate and can be pulled apart at the table.
    You can also make a savory version instead of using cinnamon and sugar use granulated garlic and your favorite fresh or dry Herbs. like oregano and basil when serving pasta or rosmary when making chicken.

    Reply
  20. Sara

    We live on monkey bread in this house. I like the sweet kind, but we prefer a whole wheat version where you wrap the bread around a little block of cheese then dip in butter. Made with tomato soup, it’s my kids’ favorite dinner. (And you can beef up the dough, of course, with wheat germ etc. to add some extra nutrients.) I always make it in a Bundt, too.

    OHHHH, Love that idea, Sara – wrapped around cheese. Gotta try it – PJH

    Reply
  21. Jenn

    Okay, silly question….can this be done without the dough hook? I can’t for the life of me find mine (methinks the small one absconded with it) but would love to make this. The canned biscuits leave so much to be desired!

    Sure, just stick with the beater paddle. You might have to stop the mixer to “untangle” the dough periodically, but it should work OK. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  22. juliane

    Love the dipping in water instead of butter!
    I teach nutrition and our guidelines for “acceptable” recipes are getting leaner and leaner!
    I’m guessing that we can use this same concept for revamping an old popular recipe- Bubble Pizza, which used to use -*YUCK*- canned biscuits cut into pieces and covered with a spaghetti sauce- meat mixture and cheese, etc.
    Anything that starts with canned biscuits can’t be good for you!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  23. Ginger

    I like the pans the kids are using for their Monkey Bread! Are they available from KA?

    Ginger, I think these paper pans are slightly taller, but would certainly work nicely for monkey bread… PJH

    Reply
  24. Julie

    This looks so delicious that my daughter and I decided to make some today. We’re in the middle of the first rise now.

    I love that it is a small batch. Please post more small batch recipes in the future for all of us who have smaller families.

    Reply
  25. breadchick

    PJ, Thanks for stopping by The Sour Dough and leaving a comment about Sara of I Like To Cook and my experiences with the Monkey Bread and the flour/water ratio not working for us. You thought it might be the way we measure our flour and suggested that if we don’t weigh our flour using a scale we should try that.

    We both use scales when the recipe calls for weight, as your monkey bread recipe does. If a recipe doesn’t have weights, I either convert to weight or do the fluff the flour and spoon it into the cup method. I used my scale on both versions of the monkey bread I made and was using King Arthur AP. Of course, as you know, kitchen environment can change the way the flour and liquid work together.

    And no worries about us having to add more liquid to get our dough to the right feel and consistency. We both liked the monkey bread and King Arthur flour is still the only flour I use and recommend to my baking students.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

    Thanks, Breadchick. I’m bummed, though – can’t figure why the ratio would have been so off. I’m going to try it again tomorrow, see what happens. We’ve had SUCH an incredibly gloomy, wet summer here, maybe our flour is just totally sodden… Thanks for writing back. We’ll get to the bottom of this. Maybe. You know how yeast recipes are – part science, and a whole lot of art… :) PJH

    Reply
  26. Deb

    This is a fabulous recipe! Very easy and delicious. I followed the suggestions of another poster and made a savory version to go along with soup. I replaced half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour and rolled the balls in a mixture of sesame and poppy seeds, with a little toasted onion powder. I also tried putting a little nugget of mozzarella cheese inside each ball. However the cheese didn’t have enough time to melt. But they were yummy anyway. My two year old son loved every bite. I can’t wait to make him the cinnamon version latter this week for his snacks. Thanks to everyone at KA who works so hard to give us great recipes, and to all of the posters who share their ideas too!

    Yes, thanks to all of you – we REALLY appreciate the help eveyrone gives one another. You never bake alone – you’re part of a community, which to me is the best part. PJH

    Reply
  27. breadchick

    PJ, Please let me know how it turns out tomorrow. It has me confused too because I rarely have any issues with your recipes.

    I bought some more AP flour tonight (used up the rest on a German Chocolate Bundt cake yesterday) and going to give it another whirl this week too.

    It has been so nasty and wet here too that I’ve taken to keeping my flour in the fridge to keep it from getting lumpy/clumpy. Maybe that had something to do with it, so I won’t be putting this batch of flour in to see. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

    The fridge dries things tremendously – wonder if indeed that could be the culprit. We’ve had 7 1/2″ of rain since Thursday night, so we’re none too dry around here! But I’ll let you know later today how it comes out… PJH

    Breadchick, I made the dough according to the recipe (using weights), and it was SO sticky as to be almost unworkable. So – I’m thinking weather – REALLY humid/wet here, really dry in your fridge. I’ll send you a photo of the dough, you can see what I mean. But it did make really moist, yummy monkey bread… wish you were here, I threw some leftover white icing on top and everyone is raving! PJH

    Reply
  28. Erie

    I have made this one several times now. It comes out great every time. I have no syrup left over in the pan but it is sweet enough for me. I am going to look at the savory version so that I can serve it with dinner as well. Can you easily double this recipe?
    Yes you may double the recipe. Double everything except the yeast-use the same amount. Joan@bakershotllne

    Reply
  29. Ashley

    We made these this morning and they turned out perfect using the weight version of the recipe. A powdered sugar icing made with enough sour cream to make a runny icing with a few drops of vanilla took these over the top!!!!

    Another batch is rising as we speak to make some individual ones to go into the freezer. I’m thinking of using aluminum liners in a large muffin tin, much like you would shape a cloverleaf roll. I’m hoping I can parbake and pop into the freezer. Then we can pop them in the toaster oven and take them with us in the mornings.

    Moderation is a really hard concept with these…….Kind of like those potato chips……

    Reply
  30. Esperanza

    This is new to me. My friend show it to me and really look yummy so I’m going to tell my daughter about this. She loves to bake. We’re going to
    try this weekend and see what will happen. I will let you know the outcome.

    We’ll look forward to you checking back in, Esperanza. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  31. Deb

    I love this recipe. I just made a quadruple batch for Christmas entertaining. My son loved the cinnamon version for breakfast. I made a savory version with Parmesan, crisped and chopped turkey peperoni, and garlic oil for guests who stopped by in the afternoon (I made two of these and they went fast.) And I just served another savory version rolled in an Italian herb blend with pizza sauce for dipping. I love the ease and versatility of the recipe. This is definitely a new family tradition.

    Thanks!!

    Reply
  32. "susantaylor52@aol.com"

    Looks so good, but I need to be gluten free. Can I make this GF using your GF flour?

    No, yeast bread recipes aren’t easily translatable to GF, simply by changing the flou; yeast recipes are generally a batter bread, not appropriate for rolling into balls and stacking in a pan. The closest you could come to this pull-apart bread would be to use our GF ancient grains biscuit recipe for the dough, then coat and shape it as the cinnamon pull-apart recipe directs. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  33. terteling

    Recently came across this recipe from facebook. My daughter has had egg and dairy allergies all of her life, and I finally found an egg-replacer for cooking. Used the new find in this recipe, and holy crow, there’s no difference. Except for the fact that she can nibble on a few bubbles while I’m not looking and not have a tummy ache.
    Thanks for another great recipe that is so easily tweaked/adapted.

    Excellent news – we’re always glad to be able to help “bypass” those nasty food allergies with a simple recipe. Glad the replacer worked – PJH

    Reply
  34. claud1951

    I made this recipe today to take to a meeting. How wonderful it was and it was a big hit. Of course I left some at home so we could have it tonight!

    Monkey bread is a wonderful sharing food, isn’t it, Claud? Such fun – and you can’t go wrong with cinnamon, sugar, and butter (and KAF, of course!) – PJH

    Reply
  35. Mayre

    Made 12 monkey muffins. Went extra decadent and used melted butter instead of water. Great goo, perfect portion controled size.

    Reply
  36. Lin

    In looking at this recipe, I am surprised to see that it is made with vegetable oil instead of butter. Could I use butter instead of oil to get a richer result? I haven’t tried the recipe yet, and by the sounds of the comments on the blog, no one has complained about the taste of the bread. But, I wonder if incorporating a little butter into the dough might make up for the water dipping. Your thoughts on this?

    Thank you! I just love King Arthur!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You certainly could try this recipe with butter, and I would recommend melting it and cooling it just slightly and then adding it at the same time that the oil would be added. I would recommend you still do dip the dough in the water and that will allow the coating to really stick to each piece for you. Let us know how it works! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

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