Cook With Kids – Monkey Bread    

Sweet Cinnamon pull apart buns - or Monkey Bread
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Here is a fun  dessert  to  share – Monkey Bread .   It is  also known as   pull apart  bread ,  stick it  bread , pluck it  cake  and  by many other   names .  Did  you notice  that all the  names  have  some  reference to  it  either  being  messy,  hands on or  sticky ?  This  may not  be  something  you  want  to  serve  when  you are  thinking  of  impressing  the  in-laws  but  definitely  fit  for  sharing   with  friends you have  fun  with.

Sweet Cinnamon pull apart buns - or Monkey Bread

Disclaimer – no monkeys  were  harmed  in the  making  of  this  dessert. We    wholeheartedly support  the  monkey’s   right  to  exist  in the  wild  especially in light of  the  fact  that over 90% of  human and  monkey DNA  is  the same !

Now  that is  our  of  the  way it  is  time  to ask –  what  is  monkey bread?   It  is  small bites of  pastry   baked  together   and  coated   with a  sweet  cinnamon (or  similar sweet spice). The reference to  the  monkey comes  from the   fact  that  one  has  to  tear off  the  pieces with one’s hands.  I know   this  is not    very   enlightened  name.  It could  very well be  that  some one’s  inner  monkey was  let  loose  when  they  came  up  with this  moniker.

So here is my   monkey bread from  scratch –  good   old-fashioned enriched yeast  dough   rolled  into  small  balls  and   coated  with  butter and cinnamon sugar.  This monkey bread is  made  from  scratch –  with all real  ingredients  and  nothing  canned. No – there is no canned  cinnamon  roll  dough  or  biscuit  dough or  pastry  dough  here.

All right  that  description  was  not  meant  to  make  you  dash  for  the   frozen  dessert  isle.  It  sounds  like a  lot , but   here is  the   fun part – you   don’t   have  to  do it  all  in one  go .   The  dough  is  absolutely fine  if  you can  let  it rise  slowly in the  fridge  – overnight  or  till you are done   running   errands.  For  longer  rises  use only a  quarter  of  the  yeast  in the  recipe.

Put  the  kids  to  work !  Summer is  not  for  slacking  off  –  and generally  kids  have fun  with   messy things.    Rolling  and  punching  the  dough is a job  they  would  love to  do .  Making the  dough  on the  other  hand   could  get  a  little  messier  than   you imagined , but  the  trick here is  to  start  the  mixing  in a  bowl . Once  the  dough has   come together  transfer  to a  flat  working  surface   sprinkled  with  plenty of  flour  and   let  the  little  hands  accomplish the   rest.

Shaping  the  bread is another   step that  little  kids  will enjoy.   Rolling   pieces  of  dough  into  smooth balls  and  rolling  in  cinnamon sugar  are  fun  activities .  I have  used a  Bundt  pan  here – but  you  could  experiment  others. (ex. cake  tins   shaped  like  Micky Moise   cutouts).

This is  also a  good   time  to introduce  some  biology  and   math   lessons  – but  I am not  going  to  go there.   The  other  day  I was  warned  by  someone in the know “Mom,   don’t  turn everything  to   a  science  lesson – you are  taking the  fun  out  of  it!” Mr.Teen  science  can  be  fun –  especially when   you are  covered  in  flour 😉 .  But  I  get it, sometimes  it  is  just fun. See  I LISTENED –  so   now  it is   your  turn to put  on the  listening  ears !

Sweet Cinnamon pull apart buns - or Monkey Bread

When  to serve it ?   Really  you have  to  ask !  Well  this  is  perfect  for a  special breakfast.   You  could   let it  rise  in the fridge overnight ,  shape  and bake in the  morning.  Or  you  could  make  it  for  dessert  and   for  an  extra  special (read  sweet) treat   pour a  simple  glaze over  it. In short  make it on   holidays , summer   or  just   about  any time  you  want.  I personally will be make  it  to  celebrate  the  first  day of  summer  break.

Here is  the  recipe in  pictures

Making Monkey Bread

If  you are  baking  with  kids ,  just  have  them  watch the   second  rise. It  is  interesting  to  see  the  little  dough  balls  expand  and  see the  sugar  coating  spread  out.

Game plan for  cooking  with  kids

This is a  perfect  way to keep  1 – 4  kids  occupied  for  30 minutes  to 1  hour .

What You Need :  Kitchen scale , Rulers ,  Dinner knives / bread knife

Concepts :  Comparing Numbers, Division, Measurements,  Geometry,  Shapes  and  Volumes

    1. Make dough (if they are old  enough  let  them knead after the  dough  comes  together).
    2. Deflate (punch it down)  the   dough.  Optionally   weigh  the   dough   before  and  after  deflating.   Note  the  changes  in  volume  and   weight (Volume  decrease ,  weight  stays  the  same unless you have a  very  sensitive  scale).
    3. Weigh  the   dough  and   and  ask the  children to eyeball  it  and  divide into  equal portions  – one  portion per child. Weigh  each portion and   and  compare  the  weight  and make  adjustments  if  necessary.
    4. Make dough rectangles.  Dust the work surface  and  give  each kid a piece.  Have  plenty of  extra  flour  available on hand. Have each kid  stretch or  roll  his/her piece  into a  rectangle,  no restriction  on   dimensions .
    5. Measure and  divide.  Ask the  children  to  measure  their  rectangles  using  a  ruler.  Ask them   to  divide  each  rectangle into 4 equal  portions.  Divide  each quarter  into  smaller  pieces (fractions ,  division).
    6. Roll each piece  of  dough into a  smooth  ball (talk about  volume  and  surface  area)
    7. Brush  with  butter  and  coat  with cinnamon sugar.  (Just  fun ) Arrange  in the   Bundt pan.
    8. Optional – Weigh  the  pan  with  the  dough at  the  start  and end  of  the   second  rise  and  notice  the  change  in  volume and weight (is  there any ?)
    9. Proceed with the  recipe.

You could  avoid  all the  science  and  math  talk and  just  have  fun  too 🙂 .

Monkey Bread
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 30 mins
 

A   sweet  confection to  tear  and  share -  favorite  of  adults s and  kids 

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Author: Syama
Ingredients
For the Dough
  • 4 C All-Purpose flour (450 g ) + extra for dusting
  • 1 C Milk Warm (240 ml )
  • 1/4 C Water Warm , use as needed
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup Sugar (50 g )
  • 2 Tbsp Butter Softened
  • Tsp Active Dry Yeast (7g or 1 pkt)
  • 1 ½ Tsp Fine Sea Salt (7g)
For the Brown Sugar Coating
  • ¾ C Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • ½ C Unsalted Butter (110g or 1 stick ) Melted
For the Glaze
  • 1 C Powdered Sugar / Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
To Bake
  • 12 C Bundt Pan
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
Instructions
Make the Dough
  1. Warm the milk  (just  warm to  touch) and  soften the butter. Bring the egg to room temperature. Activate the yeast by mixing  it in  ½ c milk mixed with 1 tsp of sugar. Set aside until it is bubbly.

  2. Take the flour in a mixing bowl, mix in the sugar and salt.
In Stand Mixer
  1. With the paddle  attachment  on mix the dry ingredients for 30 seconds.  Remove  the paddle.

     Make a well in the center of the mix and add the activated yeast mix along with milk and softened butter and 1 egg.  Attach the  dough  hook. Turn the mixer on the lowest setting and mix for 1 minute. 

    Scrape the sides if needed and mix on the recommended dough setting (kitchenaid speed 2 )for 3 to 4 minutes until the dough comes together into a soft smooth ball. 2 minutes into mixing check the dough. If it looks stiff and dry add 1 to 2 tbsp of water. If  the  dough seems  to  stick to the  sides  and  not  come  together  scrape the sides. 

     It should not take longer than 5 minutes of mixing.

By Hand
  1. Place the dry ingredients is a wide mouthed bowl or on a clean work surface . Mix lightly and make a well in the middle. Add the activated yeast and half the milk along with  a  beaten  egg.  

    Lightly mix and start kneading by incorporating more of the dry ingredients to the wet. Slowly add more of the remaining milk as you knead. The dough should stat coming together into one big mass. 

     Add the softened butter and knead it in . If the dough sticks to the surface dust with a little flour and keep kneading . As you knead the texture of the dough changes and it relaxes a bit. 

    Do a window pane test (See Notes)  to see if the dough is ready. If not knead for another couple minutes and test a gain. 10 to 15 minutes of kneading by hand is all it is going to take.

1st rise.
  1. Form the   dough  into a smooth  ball. Place it in an oiled bowl. Turn the ball to coat all sides with oil. Cover with an airtight lid or  moist  kitchen  towel and  set  aside  to  rise in a warm place.  It takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Prepare the Pan
  1. Soften 2 tbsp of butter . Liberally coat the insides of the bundt pan with butter – making  sure to get into all nooks and crannies and the center tubing section. Set aside.

Shape and 2nd rise
  1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Melt the butter in another bowl. Set aside.
  2. Punch down the dough . Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out or stretch into a rectangle. Use a knife or pizza cutter to divide the rectangle into 24 equal section (or 36 or more ).
  3. Roll each piece of  dough into a ball. Taking one ball at a time brush with the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon sugar and place in the pan. Arrange the balls evenly all around he pan. Keep layering the balls until all are used up. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough and drizzle any remaining melted butter.

  4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or wet towel and place in a warm area until the balls look almost doubled in size - about 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake
  1. Place the oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).  When   ready  to bake uncover and place the pan in the hot oven. Reduce the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake until the top is browned and you see the caramel bubbling on the sides - about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes only. Turn out on to a serving platter or to a cooling rack if serving later.

Optional glaze
  1. Mix the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl until the you get a smooth mix. Slowly pour the glaze over the bread letting it drop down the sides of the bread.
Serve warm.
    Recipe Notes
    • You can plan ahead and have the dough rise in the fridge overnight. Reduce the yeast by half if doing so. If planning to leave in the fridge longer – say 24 to 48 hours reduce the yeast to a ¼ of what is used in the original recipe. When ready take out of the fridge, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before proceeding to shape.
    • Do not allow the bread to cool in the pan for longer than 5 minutes. The glaze hardens as it cools and making the bread stick to the pan.
    • For an egg free alternative do not use the egg and increase the milk by a couple tablespoons.
    • Windowpane  test -  take a  small ball of  dough  and  stretch it  into a  rectangle  using  your  fingers  and  hold  it  against  light .  When  enough gluten is  developed  the  dough  can be stretched  into a  thin  sheet  that  lets   light  through.  

    Note:   I don’t  always  coat  the  dough  balls  in  butter.  The pieces  do stick  a  little   but  can  still be  easily be  pulled  apart.

     

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    Sweet Cinnamon pull apart buns - or Monkey Bread


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