My mother-in-law is responsible for creating a few things that I absolutely adore—most notably, my husband and this monkey bread. Momo, as she is known in the family, also makes killer dinner rolls. They’re dense and sweet and often requested at Sunday dinners. Her original recipe makes a whopping six dozen generously sized rolls, and, even though she doesn’t always need that many, she always makes a full batch of dough so that she can turn the leftovers into monkey bread.
During the holidays, Momo’s friends and family are gifted with a plate of these warm, buttery, cinnamon sugar-covered treats, and if we’re lucky, she’ll bring us some at other times as well, “just because.” It’s always a good day when monkey bread shows up unexpectedly at your door. In addition to being the perfect holiday gift to deliver to friends and neighbors, this monkey bread is great for chilly mornings and those elusive snow days we get in the Willamette Valley. We especially love it on brisk winter days that involve sledding and snowman building.
I’ve adjusted Momo’s recipe to make a single bundt pan of gooey, cinnamon sugar-coated monkey bread, which is enough for up to 12 people to eat and enjoy. Her original recipe makes four times that amount, so if you plan to make monkey bread for holiday gifts, feel free to quadruple the amounts below and make four pans at a time.
A quick word about the cream cheese drizzle: It is completely delicious, but also completely unnecessary. We almost never make it (and Momo certainly never does), but it makes for a prettier picture, so I am including the recipe below.
Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread
Makes one bundt pan
For the bread dough:
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the cinnamon sugar coating:
1 cup cinnamon sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the cream cheese drizzle:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
a splash of vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
To make the bread dough, combine the warm water and yeast in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Set aside in a warm spot for 10 minutes until the yeast is activated and the mixture begins to grow in volume. Meanwhile, combine the warm milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, and egg in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the proofed yeast mixture and mix to combine. Add the flour. If you are using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment for this part. If you are making the bread dough in a large bowl, stir it with a wooden spoon until it gets too difficult, then use your hands. Either way, knead the dough for five minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, which takes about one hour.
Coat a standard bundt pan with nonstick baking spray and set aside. When the dough has doubled in volume, put it on a well-floured work surface and knead it for about one minute. Divide the dough into 36 to 40 equal portions. Roll one portion into a small ball, dip it in melted butter, then roll it in cinnamon sugar and place it in the bundt pan. Repeat with all the dough pieces. Cover the pan with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and place it in a warm spot to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for regular pans and 325 degrees for black or dark pans. When the monkey bread has risen, remove the towel or plastic wrap and bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden on top. If you have a digital food thermometer, the internal temperature should be 190 degrees. Remove the monkey bread from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Flip it over onto a serving plate or cake stand, remove the pan, and allow the monkey bread to cool a little more. You don’t want to burn your mouth!
If you choose to make the cream cheese drizzle, you can whip it up while the monkey bread is cooling. Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and stir until well mixed. You can either use an electric mixer or a whisk. Add the powdered sugar and mix until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Whisk in the milk a little at a time until the mixture has a thick yet drizzle-able consistency. Using a spoon, drizzle the cream cheese mixture over the monkey bread. Eat immediately!