Monkey Bubble Bread


Baked Explorations

Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I suggest only making this from-scratch bread if you are having a large gathering. Otherwise, you could end up (like me) eating more than you should. Simply put, this is addictive stuff. I liken these warm, gooey bread balls to the most amazing glazed doughnut hole you have ever had. There are several recipes floating about for monkey bread that use canned biscuit dough, but I ask you to kindly refrain from this expedient fix because the result won’t be as tasty, and it is more expensive. The origin of the name monkey bread or bubble bread is quite hard to pinpoint, and while many dubious answers exist (the bread resembles a monkey puzzle tree or monkeys love to pull things apart), none of them are definitive, and some are cloyingly cute. I hate cloyingly cute. Suffice it to say that the source of the name is just one of life’s great mysteries, and we should leave it at that.

NotesThere are a lot of monkey bread misconceptions, and I will do my darnedest to dispel them. First, you do not need an icing or topping for this bread-too sweet. Second, you can make the dough ahead of time. Once the dipped dough has been placed in the pan, wrap it tightly. Refrigerate it, and bring it back to room temperature to “proof” the dough before baking. Lastly, this is one at those breads that exists to be eaten warm, straight from the oven. Once the caramel begins to cool, reheat the bread in the oven before serving.

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish, snack

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian


Moodadventurous, festive

Taste and Texturebuttery, chewy, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishbread, yeast bread


  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  1. To Make the Monkey Bubble Bread:

  2. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  3. In a small saucepan, warm your milk to slightly above room temperature, then remove it from the heat, add the yeast, and whisk to dissolve. (Do not warm it beyond 110 degrees F or you will kill the yeast).

  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, and salt until combined.

  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until combined.

  6. Keeping the mixer on low, slowly stream in the milk until combined. Add the melted butter and mix until the dough comes together. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky, but not sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should mound together and easily come off the bottom of the mixing bowl. (If the dough is too wet, add some flour. If it is too dry, add a tiny bit of water.)

  7. Spray the bottom and sides of a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around to make sure it is completely covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

  8. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  9. Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Remove it from the bowl and pat it into a rough circle approximately 8 inches diameter. Use a bench knife or serrated knife to cut dough into 1- to 1½-inch pieces (about ½ ounce each)--alternatively, use your hands to pinch apart the dough. Roll the pieces into balls (they don’t have to be perfectly round). Place the balls on the sheet pan (you will get about 60 pieces in all). Cover the balls lightly with plastic wrap.

  10. To make the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  11. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Place the melted butter In a separate bowl.

  12. To Assemble the Bread:

  13. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough halls and dip one ball in the melted butter. Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan. Continue this process with each ball, until you have several layers, arranging them as if you are building a brick wall.

  14. Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap. Set it in a warm area of the house for about 1 hour, or until the dough balls have doubled in size and appear puffy.

  15. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic and bake the Bundt until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.

  16. Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm. Should you have any leftovers (this is rare, I promise you), simply reheat them in a 300-degree oven until warm to the touch.


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I gotta say, I disagree with you about not using canned biscuit dough (I call them pop biscuits, because the can goes "pop" when you open it). I recently made this, with pop biscuits, for a friends birthday brunch and received many, many praises (one guest even went as far as it say it was "better than sex"). And mine came together in about 45 minutes. But then again, I'm not a baker. If you are and have the time to spare, go for it. But for those of you like me, do not fear the pop biscuit!


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