ORIGINAL RECIPE: from my home recipe collection, which credits AllRecipes from way back in 2003, and “Basic Southern Biscuits” from Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart*
TIMING: 1 hour and 15 minutes, with a 45 minute bake time
DIFFICULTY: Easy. Much easier than pie
TOOLS: A bundt pan and a dough scraper (or a big knife. Whatever). Also, a clean, flat surface
COOK TYPE: Oven. Baking
HEALTH: Woah. There is nothing to be positively said for the health content of this food. I don’t even think we can site cinnamon as a health food, here. Because it is so very much enveloped in the mounds of sugar and layers of all purpose flour and oozings of butter. But I can’t say I could live the rest of my life without the occasional monkey bread.
EXPERIENCE: We were invited to dinner. It was mid-week. I had work to do, the house to manage, and kids to pick up. Yes, I was thankful that I wouldn’t have to put dinner on the table, but I was asked to bring dessert and I realized that it was going to have to be a relatively easy, relatively quick dessert. But I still wanted everyone to love it.
Monkey bread is just the thing if you want everyone to love your dessert. No, it’s not fancy. No, it doesn’t even necessitate a fork. No, it doesn’t look amazing. But it tastes amazing. Sooo amazing.
NOTES: My mom used to make this with canned biscuits, and we would eat it by pulling off chunks with our hands. Also, if you find that your bread is a little underdone, just consider the gooeyness as a part of its charm.
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk 4 cups all purpose flour with 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons baking powder.
- Scatter 1/2 cup cubed, cold butter over top of the flour and blend in with your hands or a pastry cutter. Work fast and gentle.
- Scatter 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (best cold) over top and blend that in with your hands or a pastry cutter. Keep working fast and gentle. Mixture should now seem like sand, but when you press a hand-full together, it sticks.
- Make a well in the center and stir in 1 1/2 cups cold milk, quickly and (yes) gently. If needed, add a little more milk just to make sure there is no flour left in the bowl.
- Flour a clean, flat surface and turn the dough out. Sprinkle the top with flour and fold dough over on itself. Press out into an irregular disk and flour more if necessary. Then, using a dough scraper or large knife, cut the dough into large bite-size pieces.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Add dough chunks to the sugar, a few at a time, and toss to coat until all of the biscuits are in the bowl.
- Carefully dump the biscuit and sugar mixture into a nonstick bundt pan. If yours in not springform, you may want to grease it. Make sure the sugar mixture is evenly distributed among the layers.
- In a small saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of brown sugar. Once the sugar starts to dissolve, pour the mixture over the biscuits.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a decorative platter.
Serve with nothing except some cold milk or hot coffee. Also, you might want to tackle this after a day of salads and crudites. You will also want to share, because you won’t be able to control how much you eat, otherwise.
*Recipe changed from the original.