The name "Monkey Bread" is new to me, although I'm sure if you live in the States, it's probably something you're familiar with already. If you're like me and wonder what this monkey business of a bread is about, well, it is apparently an American favourite that is also known by various other names like Bubble Bread because of the "bubbles" of dough. I first came across a recipe for this in the book "Bread" by Ingram and Shapter, and was intrigued by not only the quirky name but also its rustic appearance with little balls of dough moulded together to form a ring loaf.
This bread usually comprises several small balls of dough that are dipped in melted butter (ahh...music to my ears...) and covered with poppy seeds, raisins, nuts and/or sugar and cinnamon before being baked in a ring mould. When served hot, the little balls of dough can be easily pulled apart with the fingers and eaten by hand. This is a fun bread to serve with family and friends at the table where everyone gets to help themselves and tear off pieces of the sticky little buns. I made my monkey loaf with layers of cream cheese and scattered some cranberries in between, and covered the doughballs with melted butter, sugar and walnuts. It's a really versatile loaf, so you can choose any fillings you like (or omit them totally if you prefer) and substitute the walnuts with almonds, pecans or any of your favourite nuts.
Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese and CranberriesAdapted from Cookingbread.com
- 2 - 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water (hot)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup walnuts/almonds/pecans, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries (craisins), soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
Lightly grease a bundt pan or ring cake tin. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the dry ingredients for the dough and make a well in the centre.
Pour the hot water in a jug and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the sugar followed by the milk. The mixture should be lukewarm, but if not, then pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. Whisk in the egg. Pour the entire mixture into the centre of the flour in the mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, mix and knead the dough for about 10 minutes on low speed until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingwrap, then leave it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Drain the soaked cranberries and squeeze out excess water. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nuts in a bowl for the coating.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out so that you can cut it into strips and divide them into little balls, about 30-odd so of them. Dip them into melted butter and roll them in the coating mixture, and arrange them in the greased bundt pan, spaced slightly apart to allow room for them to expand later. Add some of the cream cheese mixture followed by cranberries on top, and alternate with more of the dough balls, ending with the dough on top. Cover with clingwrap and leave aside to rise again, for another hour or so until the dough reaches the top of the pan.
Preheat oven to 190C (375F) and bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.