Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning Monkey Bread

We in the Foodie family have just a few traditions that we hold sacred–Jingo on Thanksgiving, for instance–but perhaps the most sacred of all is this Christmas Morning Monkey Bread.   No matter what we’re doing for the holiday, whether it’s hosting friends and family or staying home on our own, the Foodie children know all’s right with the world when this bubbly, sticky, sugary confection comes out of the oven.

If you do a Google search for “monkey bread”, you’ll come up with millions of recipes–my mom used to make a version that used a package of butterscotch pudding mix in the sauce.  I like this particular recipe, which I adapted from something I found on, for several reasons:

1.  It doesn’t require a packaged mix of any sort.

2.  The sauce is easily changed with any configuration of spices and extracts, depending on your tastes (and, in my case, your mood on any given day.)

3.  You can do half the work on Christmas Eve, put the pan in the refrigerator, and pick up where you left off on Christmas morning.

This recipe does require some forethought, which is why I make it only once a year. (Well, that and the fact that it includes an entire year’s worth of sugar.)  The dough will need about three hours in your refrigerator to thaw; although I used Rhodes frozen dinner rolls, you can use any brand you like–or even a frozen loaf of bread dough chopped and rolled into small pieces.  I use a large Ziploc bag to shake the bread dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but you could easily just measure the cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and roll the pieces of bread dough instead..  The only important thing is to make sure they’re completely covered in sugar before you spread them around in your tube pan.  (If you’re a fan of nuts, feels free to toss some walnuts or pecans into the tube pan before you add the pieces of bread dough.  Sadly, the Foodie children are not nut people, and since this is their Christmas treat, I don’t press the issue.)

Once you’ve taken care of coating the bread dough in cinnamon-sugar, cover your tube pan with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  The dough will pouf up a little overnight, but not much. In the morning, when you take the pan out of the refrigerator, the dough will need about two hours to come to room temperature and rise.  That time is approximate and has more to do with the temperature of your kitchen than anything else, so keep an eye on the bread.  You don’t want to let it rise over the top of the tube pan, since it will continue to rise a little during the baking process.  When the bread is just below the top of the tube pan, start making the sauce.

And here’s the most important thing:  after baking, invert the monkey bread on a serving platter as soon as it comes out of the oven–but remember that it’s covered with scalding hot caramel sauce.  If you leave the monkey bread in the pan while it cools, the sauce will solidify and make it impossible to remove the bread, so it’s important to get it out while the sauce is still liquid.  Of course, that presents its own challenges–chief among them, the need to avoid a serious sugar burn on your hands and wrists.   We use a large, shallow serving bowl, about 1 inch deep, to keep the sauce from running off the sides.  The Hubs is kind enough to take care of the inversion process for me.  (He has it down to a science, at this point.)  Once you’ve inverted the monkey bread, let it cool for about ten minutes to prevent sugar burns on the inside of your mouth.  It’ll be hard to wait, but trust me–you’ll be glad you did.

This make enough monkey bread to feed a small army, but  it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days.  Just warm it in the microwave to reinstate the gooey quality of the caramel sauce.

(My apologies for the horrendous quality of the photos in his post.  The obviously unnatural light in my kitchen does no favors to the food.)


Christmas Morning Monkey Bread


1 bag (24-count) frozen dinner rolls
3/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar (approximate)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla


Allow the bread dough to thaw in the refrigerator for about 3 hours, or until the rolls are soft enough to be cut in half. Spray a tube pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip-top bag. Drop 5 or 6 pieces of bread dough into the bag and shake to coat them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Distribute the 48 pieces of dough around the bottom of the tube pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Pour the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture into a 1-cup measure and fill it to the top with packed brown sugar. Cover the measuring cup with plastic and set it aside until morning.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap. Set the pan in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours. (Rising time may be longer or shorter, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.) When the bread dough has risen to just below the top of the tube pan, combine the sugar mixture, butter, and evaporated milk in a small sauce pan. Stir in the nutmeg and vanilla. (You can flavor the sauce to your liking with various spices and extracts; I've used orange zest and ground cloves in place of the nutmeg and vanilla. It's really up to you. If you add cinnamon, though, just remember that the bread dough is already coated in cinnamon sugar.) Bring the sauce to a boil, then let it continue boiling for 1 minute.

Pour the hot sauce over the rolls. (Pour slowly, so it has time to seep down into the spaces between the pieces of bread.) Bake immediately for 30-35 minutes, until the top is browned. Invert the monkey bread on a serving platter, being very careful of the hot caramel sauce. Allow the bread to cool and the sauce to stabilize for about 10 minutes before serving.




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2 Responses to “Christmas Morning Monkey Bread”

  1. 1

    Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies — January 1, 2012 @ 1:49 am

    Mmm, no words can describe how good that looks. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I’d love it if you’d come by and link your monkey bread up. It’ll be open till Monday night.

  2. 2

    April — December 25, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

    YUM! Made this for Christmas morning, and it was delicious-my new favorite monkey bread recipe. Thanks!

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