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Chef Dwight Smith's Monkey Bread is a caramel-topped showstopper that's perfect for sharing

Warm, comforting and surprisingly easy to make, this recipe will be your new holiday go-to.

Warm, comforting and surprisingly easy to make, this recipe will be your new holiday go-to

Two images side-by-side. L: Dwight Smith pulling a piece of caramel sauce-covered monkey bread off the loaf. R: Close-up of monkey bread covered in caramel sauce sitting on white plate on top of a wooden lazy Susan.
(Credit: Dwight Smith)

Monkey bread is surprisingly easy to make and is an absolute showstopper for any occasion. This recipe is my own spin on the classic comfort dish, which is itself an interpretation of a Hungarian dessert that’s believed to date back to the late 1800s

While many recipes call for store-bought biscuit dough, this one takes things up a notch with a simple handmade dough. Serve it for brunch with coffee or after dinner as a dessert — either way, it’s a perfect treat to share with your loved ones this holiday season.

Monkey Bread

Ingredients

Dough:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1½ tsp vanilla extract)
  • 5 tbsp granulated white sugar, divided
  • 1 cup 2% milk, warmed
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Coating:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preparation

Dough:

In a large mixing bowl, add the water, yeast, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of sugar, and whisk to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes to activate the yeast.

To the same bowl, add the milk, butter, flour, remaining sugar, salt and egg. Whisk lightly to combine. Mix by hand for a few minutes, or until the dough just starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for approximately 1 more minute. 

Grease another large mixing bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Set the dough aside to proof for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size. (Note: the timing of this step will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen.)

Once the dough has risen, transfer it from the bowl and place it back on your work surface. Divide it into small, uniformly sized balls (while the size is up to you, keeping them uniform will ensure they bake evenly).

Coating:

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Sauce:

Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Turn the heat down to low so that the sauce stays warm while you’re assembling the pan.

Assembly: 

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Coat a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

Pour about one-third of your sauce into your prepared bundt pan to coat the bottom.

Toss the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and arrange them, on top of the sauce, in the bundt pan. Pour about half of the remaining sauce over top.

Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet to catch any sauce that may bubble out. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Place a large plate on top, then carefully invert the bundt pan. Any caramel sauce that leaks out will be very hot, so be sure to wear oven mitts to protect your hands. Gently lift the pan away from the monkey bread. Drizzle the remaining sauce on top and serve. (Note: you may need to whisk the caramel first if it begins to harden. If need be, bring it back up to a light simmer over medium heat before drizzling.)

Produced in collaboration with CBC Creator Network.


Dwight Smith is a Toronto-based chef with more than 15 years of professional cooking experience in some of the best restaurants in Canada. Dwight aims to bring you fast, easy and flavourful recipes that you can make at home.

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