Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Monkey Bread

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on December 5, 2010

Baked goods are my weakness, so it is no surprise to me that I ended up in the baking field. I have always loved to make cakes and cookies but bread baking as a career always seemed like such a chore. There is so much to think about when making bread products, like temperature of the ingredients, putting them together correctly so that you don’t destroy your fresh or dried yeast which is a living organism, you have to proof the items a few times, worry about dough temperature and oven temperature and humidity. More than any other food item, it is a true labor of love.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made many bread products before, but I just don’t always have the necessary patience to do this for a living.

I love this version of monkey bread because it all tastes like the inside of a gooey, cinnamon roll–the part we all love. Honestly, there is nothing like the smell of cinnamon in baked goods, and when you pull off your first warm, gooey bite… it is so hard to stay away from the rest.

This recipe will come together pretty quickly and even though there is some proofing involved, it is a real snap to put it together. I used dry yeast, but you can use fresh yeast if you prefer. If you do use fresh yeast, omit the sugar. The sugar is only added to dried yeast to wake it up and feed it from its dormant state (dry). Fresh yeast on the other hand is already awake and ready to work. This is a lean dough that uses only water and not milk, which also has natural sugars to help yeast bloom. So remember that when you use dry yeast, it is important to provide a source of food to help it along. The calculation for using fresh yeast is 5% of the weight of the flour. Use half of that if you are using dry yeast and 1/3 of that amount if you are using a rapid rise yeast. So the calculations are as follows:

(20 ounces) x .05 =

1.45 oz of fresh yeast  OR .73 oz of dry yeast  OR .5 oz of rapid rise yeast

Personally, I always prefer using fresh yeast, but I cannot always find it. Using this method will help you to be able to use whatever you have on hand or whatever type of yeast you can find, with excellent results.

The amount of liquid should be no more than 2% of the weight of the flour, which which means that you should need to use only about 8 ounces of liquid, including the egg and oil. One large egg weighs approximately 1.8 ounces. There is always some variation with the flour, depending on how humid or how dry your environment is –  if  the dough seems a little dry, add just a little more water, if it is a little too sticky, then add a little more flour. The final result should be a smooth dough.

***An original recipe from

Monkey Bread (makes 1-10” bundt)
4 cups flour
Approximately 1 to 1- 1/2 cups of warm liquid (this will include water, egg and oil)
1-1/2 teaspoons of rapid rise yeast
1 large egg, room temp
3 teaspoons vegetable oil (plus 1 tablespoon for bowl)
2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (omit if using fresh yeast)

2 cups sugar
10-12 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick melted butter
1 cup, roasted, chopped pecans **optional

Add the yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer along with the liquid ingredients and whisk well until the yeast has dissolved. Add the flour into a big mound in the bowl and on top of this add the salt and sugar. Combine everything together using a paddle attachment, and beat the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth. Add the other tablespoon of oil into a medium sized bowl and coat the inside well with the oil. Place the dough ball into a bowl, swirl it around in the bowl until the dough is gently coated with some of the oil, then cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and allow this to proof until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, melt the stick of butter and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar together. I prefer mine with a lot of cinnamon, so add enough for your preference. This mixture is what will create the gooey caramel once it is baked. be generous with it.

Spray your nonstick baking pan well with a good quality spray (I use a bundt pan). Begin by breaking off pieces of the dough, roll it in the melted butter, then in the cinnamon sugar and add them side by side, snuggly to your baking pan. Do this until your pan is about half full. Do not fill it up all the way because this will have to proof once more before baking, and it will rise some more in the oven. Once the dough balls have been put in the bundt pan, cover with the plastic wrap and tea towels again, and let it proof again until doubled.

Preheat your oven to 350°F once your dough is almost doubled and bake for approximately 30 minutes in the middle rack of your oven. Once it has finished baking, let it cool for a few minutes and then turn it out immediately onto a large platter. Do not wait too long to do this or you run the risk of it sticking to your pan and falling apart. Serve it right away…it is still delicious and tender the next day too!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar heather February 12, 2011 at 1:08 p

My mother used to make a similar recipe – I just had a vivid memory flash of her making them – she rolled out the mixture and sprinkled it with sultanas, brown sugar and cinnamon, then rolled it up, cut it into pieces, arranged them in a round shape and into the oven. The outside was brushed with butter and brown sugar.

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet February 12, 2011 at 8:28 p

Heather, one of friends has already made this several times…it’s always a hit!

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