Monkey bread is a popular dessert or breakfast pastry, coated in cinnamon and sugar. From a basic yeast dough, this bread makes a hearty as well as filling treat, despite its simple ingredients. The name “monkey bread” is uncertain in origin, though theories run rampant as to how this tasty, sticky pastry got its name.
A simple yeast dough is called for in most recipes for monkey bread, although even more simplified versions call for the use of refrigerated biscuit dough. While some experts frown at the use of pre-made dough, using it can allow you to throw this dish together in a hurry to serve to unexpected company or in a pinch if you have less food than planned for a breakfast or brunch.
Once the dough has risen or you have opened the tube of biscuits, roll into individual balls and coat in melted butter. After they are thoroughly coated, roll the dough in toppings of your choice. Typically, cinnamon and white or brown sugar is used, but feel free to add nuts, raisins, or other toppings you enjoy. Once covered, squish the balls side by side into cake or bundt pans. Some recipes call for a second rise or overnight rise in the refrigerator, whereas others suggest baking immediately at a medium-high temperature for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Once cooked the monkey bread will be moist, sugary, and easy to pull apart in simple sections. Served with coffee, tea or a big glass of milk, this treat is sure to be a hit with even the pickiest of eaters. If you are searching for monkey bread on a menu, be aware that it also lurks under the names “Hungarian coffee cake” and “bubble loaf”.
The origin of the name “monkey bread” is a great mystery with many theories. Some believe that the 1850s chef who invented the dish named it because it looked to him like the lumpy hands of a monkey. Others suggest that the name references the way the dough lumps together cozily during baking, much like a pack of monkeys. First Lady Nancy Reagan, who famously served the dish as part of a Christmas menu at the White House, thought it was because the dough was slippery, causing you to "monkey around" with it to get it in the pan. Whatever the original idea, monkey bread is an unfailingly simple and popular recipe and a fantastic basic dish to add to any cook’s repertoire.