Monkey Bread is a cinnamon-flavored pull-apart bread that’s a decadent treat for a special occasion. The amazing aroma is sure to draw a crowd to your kitchen!
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Monkey Bread
One of my favorite indulgences is homemade Monkey Bread. Warm bread coated with cinnamon and sugar and topped with cream cheese frosting? It’s like a mashup of cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. No way I’m resisting that!
This is the type of treat that’s meant for a special occasion. Leave the standard fare for everyday treats. THIS is the treat you want for Christmas morning or a birthday or some other big day. Serve it for breakfast, brunch, snack time, or dessert!
Making monkey bread from scratch is not a quick process, but it’s 100% worth it in the end when your kitchen fills with the aromas of cinnamon and caramelized sugar and freshly baked bread. Top it off with a sweet cream cheese icing to take it over the top!
What is Monkey Bread?
Monkey bread is made from little balls of bread dough that are coated in a sweet or savory seasoning and baked, usually in a Bundt pan or loaf pan.
Once it’s baked and ready to serve, it can be pulled apart one little bit of bread at a time. For this reason, it’s also sometimes called a pull-apart bread. You may see it called bubble bread, pinch-me cake, or puzzle bread.
What You’ll Need
See the recipe card below for specific quantities. Here are some notes about the ingredients you’ll need to make this monkey bread.
- All-purpose flour – Measure by weight for best results. If you don’t yet have a digital kitchen scale, you can simulate that with the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
- Milk – The milk (and the water) should be warm but not hot. An instant read-thermometer is helpful to get to the 110°F mark. I recommend using whole milk.
- Water – The water needs to be warm, too.
- Yeast – You can use active dry yeast, rapid yeast, or instant yeast.
- Unsalted butter
- Unsalted butter
- Brown sugar – Light brown sugar gives the coating a caramel-like flavor.
- Cinnamon – Check that yours is still fresh by giving it a smell. It should have a strong aroma.
- Cream cheese – Bring the cream cheese to room temperature for a smooth icing. Full-fat cream cheese works best.
- Confectioners’ sugar – Take an extra minute to sift the sugar so your icing will be smooth.
- Vanilla extract
How to Make Monkey Bread
While there is some downtime for the dough to rise, the actual hands-on time is manageable. Make sure you’ve blocked off sufficient time so you won’t be tempted to rush the rising process.
Make the Bread Dough
Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour and salt.
Combine the wet ingredients and yeast. Mix the milk, water, sugar, butter, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should be foamy. (If you’re using rapid or instant yeast, you can choose to mix it with the flour instead and skip the proofing stage.)
Add the flour mixture and the egg. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Next, mix in the egg and continue mixing until a ball of dough forms.
Keep mixing. Continue kneading for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Let rise. Cover the dough with a towel, and let it rest in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Get Ready to Assemble
Prepare the pan. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan.
Make the coating. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a shallow bowl.
Portion the dough. Divide the dough into 36 equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball.
Add the coating. Dip each ball of dough in melted butter, and then roll thoroughly in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place each piece of coated dough in the prepared pan. Combine the remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar, and pour over the bread in the pan.
Let rise again. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Preheat the oven. Toward the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 375°F.
Bake. Place the pan in the heated oven, and bake for 25 minutes or until the bread is browned and thoroughly baked.
Cool. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then invert the pan onto a large plate to remove the bread from the pan.
Make the Cream Cheese Icing
Mix the icing ingredients. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the milk and vanilla, and continue mixing until smooth.
Add the icing to the bread. Drizzle the icing over the warm bread. If you like, place some of the icing in a small bowl for dipping.
Tips for Success
- In a hurry? For those times you can’t plan to make the bread from scratch, you can use three 8-ounce cans of refrigerated biscuit dough. Quarter the biscuits and proceed with the recipe beginning with making the coating. It’s not quite the same flavor and texture, but it’s still pretty darn good!
- Make ahead. This can be a lot to make from start to finish for a breakfast treat! Luckily, you can assemble the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Set it out at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.
- Portion efficiently. To make quick, accurate work of portioning the dough, first weigh the dough in grams and then divide that number by 36 to determine how much each ball of dough should weigh.
- Checking for doneness. The best way to check if the monkey bread is done is to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should read 200°F when the bread is thoroughly baked. Your nose will likely pick up on the incredible aromas that tell you when it’s time to check for doneness.
How to Store Leftovers
After the bread has cooled completely, cover it well with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or transfer it to an airtight container. Place any extra icing in an airtight container, too. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days, although it will be at its best the day it’s baked.
Reheat servings in the microwave in 20-second increments until warm.
How to Freeze Monkey Bread
Transfer leftovers to a freezer-safe container, and freeze up to 3 months. For best results, freeze without the icing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as directed above.
You can also freeze the shaped dough before adding the coating. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid (about 3 hours). Then transfer to a freezer-safe container, and store in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue the recipe beginning with making the coating.