Sticky, gooey, pull-apart Monkey Bread is simply the best. Start with little balls of sweetened yeast dough, then a dip first in melted butter then cinnamon and sugar. Add a little caramel and sprinkled pecans and this bread goes one step beyond delicious.
The origin and name of Monkey Bread is not agreed upon. Theories include the fact that you can pull it apart with your hands; it takes a bit of “monkeying around” to prepare the bread; the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree. One thing we do know is Sometime over the past 35 years, monkey bread morphed to include a caramel-and-nuts coating. It showed up in American bakeries in the 1950s and 1960s, and enjoyed a brief resurgence in popularity during the 1980s, when Nancy Reagan had monkey bread served in the White House during Christmas.
Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread
1¼ cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees) (preferably whole milk)
¼ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
5½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup whipping (heavy) cream
- In a large mixing bowl, combine warm milk, warm water, and yeast; stir and let sit until yeast is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add sugar, salt, melted butter, and eggs; beat until mixture is smooth. Add 2 cups flour; stir until well mixed. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Place dough in a well greased bowl; turn dough over once to grease the top. Cover bowl with a small kitchen towel and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
- Prepare one 10 inch Angel Food tube cake pan with a non-removable bottom, or a 9 inch fluted tube pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening.
- Punch dough down then knead dough briefly, 4 to 5 times. Divide the dough into fourths, and then cut each fourth into half. Cut each half into 5 pieces, and then roll each piece into a ball. You will have 40 dough balls total; don’t worry if each piece isn’t exactly the same size. Set aside while preparing topping and caramel.
- Chop pecans to a small to medium coarse texture. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, large enough to roll the dough balls in, combine sugar and cinnamon, stir to mix. Set aside.
- Pour melted butter in a medium size bowl, large enough to roll the dough balls in. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine brown sugar, butter, and cream. Heat and stir until the butter is melted. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for 3 minutes. Pour half of the hot caramel into the bottom of the prepared pan and sprinkle with half of the pecans. Set remainder of caramel aside.
- Roll the dough balls in the melted butter, and then roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place 20 balls in the bottom of the prepared pan on top of the caramel and pecans. Don’t worry about getting it to look perfect, just randomly arrange the balls in the pan. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the balls and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Arrange the remaining 20 balls over the caramel and pecans. If there is any remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture, sprinkle over the top.
- Cover and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Tip: Use an instant read thermometer to test your bread for doneness. The temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees F.
- Run a thin kitchen knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Invert the pan onto a serving plate. Leave the pan in place one or two minutes before lifting to let the caramel drip down onto the bread. Carefully lift the pan off of the bread. If any caramel or pecans have stuck to the pan, remove and place it back on the bread.
- Best served warm. The bread can be pulled apart or sliced into pieces.
Makes 1 loaf
Description: Sweet Yeast Bread
Pan: One 10" Angel Food or 9" Fluted Tube
Pan Prep: Greased
Oven Temp: 350o
Prep Time: 4 Hours
Baking Time: 50 to 55 minutes
Yield: 1 Loaf
Storage: Tightly Wrapped, Room Temperature
Recipe Type: Sweet Yeast Bread, Caramel, Pecans, Thanksgiving, Christmas
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