Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any weight gain that might result from your inevitable addiction to the delicious, gooey, cinnamony, caramel-drenched bread described in this post.
OK, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about monkey bread. Chances are, you’ve heard about or eaten this dish, which consists of bite-sized chunks of biscuit dough, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, bathed in melted butter and brown sugar, then baked in a bundt pan. I made a savory version with garlic butter and parmesan in seventh-grade home ec class, but I’d never had the sweet version until last year, when my good friend Ann came for a weekend visit. She had told me about the dangerous, addictive qualities of this bread, and how even the cold leftovers call out to you to nibble on them throughout the day, and how the hardened bits of caramel that collect on the plate are a perfect ice cream topping, but for whatever reason, I never made it. When she visited, she declared that on Sunday morning, we were going to make monkey bread.
Make it we did, and a part of me wishes we never had, because I’m pretty sure my waistline has expanded a few inches since I’ve been introduced to monkey bread. It’s so sinful that I don’t make it unless we have brunch guests, which means that we got to make it this morning because my friend Wa and her son spent the night. My boys were super excited; they love helping me make it, and of course they adore eating it. There are many recipes for monkey bread, but the one Ann introduced me to is Pastor Ryan’s Monkey Bread from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.
- Three tubes of buttermilk biscuits (do not buy the “flaky” ones). At my store, they actually sell a bundle of four Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits with a monkey bread recipe printed on the wrapper. Each tube in the bundle is smaller than standard size, so if you get it, you should use all four tubes.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter (that would be two sticks. Yes, I said two)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon (I prefer three)
- 1 gallon-size zip-top bag
- 1 bundt pan*
*For the love of God, please do not make the same mistake I made when Ann was here. She asked if I had a bundt pan, and I said, “No, but I’m sure the angel food cake pan I have will do just fine! I mean, it has a hole in the middle, just like a bundt pan!” Ann asked me if I was sure, since the angel food pan has a removable center that might not work so well with the cup and a half of gooey caramel that’s poured onto the biscuits in the pan. I didn’t heed her warning. Let’s just say that unless you want to spend an hour cleaning the burnt caramel off the bottom of your oven, stick with a bundt pan, shown below:
If you don’t have one, it’s worth your time and $10 to go buy one, even if you only ever make monkey bread in it. I promise. In fact, monkey bread is so good that even with half the caramel gone, the result was delicious.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the butter and brown sugar in a small pan and set it to melt over a low flame. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, open up the biscuit tubes and cut each biscuit into quarters. You can use a knife, but I prefer to use my kitchen shears. I pile the little pieces on a cutting board.
- Place the cup of white sugar in the zip-top bag, along with the desired amount of cinnamon. Close the bag and shake it or mush it to thoroughly mix the sugar and cinnamon. (By the way, at this point, check on that brown sugar and butter mixture. It’s probably melted; if so, turn off the heat. It’s OK if the butter and brown sugar are separated; you can stir it together later.)
- Then, open the bag and drop in the biscuit pieces. I like to stop every once in a while, close up the bag, and shake it to make sure the biscuit pieces don’t all stick together in one big lump, and also to help evenly coat each piece. If you have kids, they’d probably love to help you drop the pieces in and shake the bag. In fact, my boys sing a little song to the tune of Hokey Pokey while we’re doing this: You put the monkeys in/Don’t take the monkeys out/You put the monkeys in/And you shake ’em all about/You’re makin’ monkey bread/And you’re havin’ so much fun/That’s what it’s all about/Monkey bread!
- Once all the biscuit pieces are in the bag, close up the bag and give it a few good, hard shakes. Again, kids love to help out with this part! My sons and I have yet another song that we sing for the “final shake,” sung to the tune of KC & The Sunshine Band’s (Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty: Shake shake shake/shake shake shake/shake your monkeys/shake your monkeys(repeat several times). Making monkey bread is a very musical affair at our house.
- Empty the contents of the bag into your bundt pan. Stir the brown sugar and butter mixture if it’s separated, then pour the delicious goo over the bread. Mmm. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Once the monkey bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a plate (inverting it onto a plate is what gives the bread its amazingly gooey look, since the caramel sauce is usually settled on the bottom of the pan).
Now, the only thing left to do is serve the monkey bread. We don’t have a song for this part, as we’re too busy stuffing our faces.
If it makes you feel better, round out the monkey bread with some fruit, eggs and turkey sausage, as I always do. It helps me feel like I’m at least serving some healthy things with the mound of sugar, butter and carbs. Happy Sunday, everyone!