Monkey Bread or No-Fry Donut Holes?
Well, I’m back with another round of tasty baked goods. The blueberry coffee cake was such a hit that I figured I’d have another go at a recipe I’ve been dying to try… monkey bread! Who knows why it’s called monkey bread. I like to think that it’s because you eat it with your fingers while uttering monkey-like squeals of delight. Either way, it’s a cake pan full of cinnamon-sugary goodness that is sure to please almost any taste pallet.
This time I’ll preface my recipe by letting you know that my monkey bread did not turn out as planned. Who knows where I went wrong… but, while it might have looked a heck of a lot different than all of the pictures I’d seen plastered across the webosphere, it still tasted great! So great, in fact, that I’m going to go ahead and call my failed attempt at monkey bread a very successful attempt at no-fry donut holes!
What you’ll need (for the bread dough):
- 1/4 cup warm water (around 100 F… any hotter than 110 F can kill the yeast)
- 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- 3/4 cup warm milk
What you’ll need (for the dippings and toppings):
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 cup walnuts (or pecans) roughly chopped
Serving size: Makes a “cake” plus 6 muffins!
Start by lightly greasing a bundt pan with vegetable oil. Be sure to use a solid bundt pan, since the ooey-gooey goodness of the cinnamon sugar liquid can easily escape through the cracks of a springform pan.
Put the yeast in a large bowl. Add the warm water and let the mixture stand for a coupe of minutes.
Add 1 cup of your flour and the rest of the dough ingredients (vanilla extract, salt, sugar, egg, butter, milk) to the yeast/water combination. Using either a handy baking tool or your hands, blend the ingredients thoroughly until you achieve a somewhat smooth texture. Continue adding the additional cups of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead for several minutes.
I started with a hand-held mixer, but switched to using my hands half-way through. It’s a whole lot messier, but I found that it worked better.
Once you’re satisfied with the structure of your dough, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After patiently waiting, your dough should have risen a fair amount (see photo above compared to photo below).
On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick pancake. Using either a knife or your fingers, break away small-ish chunks of dough and roll them into small balls. Put all of your balls back into your bowl for safe keeping.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Now it’s time to get the trimmings ready! Chop up your nuts, whisk together your brown sugar and cinnamon, a melt your butter over a low heat.
Time to get down and dirty, guys! Sprinkle some nuts around the bottom of your bundt pan. One by one, take a ball and dip it into the melted butter. Transfer it to the bowl of cinnamon sugar and coat generously. Once you’re happy with the sugar coating, plop it into your bundt pan. Continue this process, working your way around the pan, layering the sugary balls one on top of the other.
If you have any left overs, or if you’d like to keep the portion sizes a bit smaller, you can also make single servings in the form of muffins! You use the same process except you stick with 4-5 balls per muffin form.
Place your tins into the preheated oven and let them cook for about 30 minutes. Once the dough turns a golden brown and the gooey sugar mixture starts to bubble, the baked goods should be ready to come out of the oven. Let the cake cook for 10 minutes before tipping the tin onto a separate plate.
As you can see, my “cake” fell to pieces. Maybe I got a little over-eager and didn’t wait for the cake to cool properly? Maybe I over-cooked it? Maybe I didn’t add enough buttery sauce?
Either way, I’m pretty pleased with my cinnamon sugar donut holes! They taste great with a cup of coffee (or cinnamon tea, yum!), and will last forever (or not!). So, go ahead and give this recipe a shot. For all you know, yours will turn out perfectly and you can rub it in my face! If worse comes to worse, you’ll get a few dozen donut holes to share with friends, family, or coworkers ;)