September 4th, 2008

monkey bread in a dutch oven

monkey bread 1

i’ve got a confession that will either make me seem really cool or really lame: i’m an eagle scout. i spent most of my teenage years camping and tying knots with my fellow boy scouts, learning the skills i would need to survive in the wilderness. and although i’ve never actually been lost in the wilderness (yet), i still use a lot of what i learned in the scouts every day. one of the coolest things about camping is figuring out how to cook gourmet meals with greatly reduced means. no oven, microwave, mixer, toaster, or *gasp* panini press.

dutch oven

the dutch oven quickly becomes one of your best friends when camping, despite it’s weight. a dutch oven is basically a giant cast iron pot with a lid. it’s traditionally placed right on hot coals (hot coals are placed on top as well) to fire up whatever amazing concoction you’ve put inside. there are literally thousands of sites dedicated to dutch oven cooking featuring recipes for anything from pizza to gumbo to cobbler. i was lucky enough to get a dutch oven for my birthday last year from the girl (ain’t she great?) but the only thing i had used it for up until now was slow cooking apple and pumpkin butter. luckily, it also works flawlessly in the oven.

monkey bread dough 1

when we camped, the dutch oven monkey bread was made with ready-made biscuits that were torn up into smaller pieces and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. this recipe actually uses a sweet yeast dough that you let rise, but instead of baking it in a tube pan, i doubled the recipe and used my dutch oven so it would be brimming with gooey cinnamon sugar goodness.

monkey bread dough 4

why is it called monkey bread? no one seems to know the real answer, but i’ve always assumed it had something to do with the bread being easy to pull apart and eat by little hands – for instance the hands of monkeys or small children. whatever the origin of it’s name, monkey bread has a few rules: it can and should be eaten with every meal, and it will disappear a lot faster than you think. maybe you should think about tripling or quadrupling that next batch.

monkey bread 3

monkey bread
you can make this in a tube pan if you don’t have a dutch oven on hand. note that in the photos, i’ve doubled the recipe. the recipe below, however, is for one batch.

1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, divided
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup scalded milk
5 cups flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
5  tsp cinnamon

1. dissolve the yeast with 1 tsp of sugar in the warm water. in a separate bowl, combine one stick of butter with rest of the 1/2 cup sugar. pour hot milk over the butter and sugar mixture to melt butter. let cool.

2. add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and then add half the flour. beat in the eggs and mix thoroughly.  add the remaining dough to make a soft dough.

3. turn dough onto a floureed surface and knead well. place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled. punch down. in a small bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.

4. melt remaining butter. pull 1 inch balls of the dough and dip into the butter. roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until covered. arrange the balls in the pan or dutch oven. allow them to rise again for about half and hour. bake at 375 F for 45 mintues or until golden brown. if you decide to use a dutch oven and double the recipe, you’ll need to bake with the lid on and extend the baking time about another half hour. take the lid off for the last 15 mintues to allow to top to rise and brown.

27 Comments for monkey bread in a dutch oven - why not leave some love?

  1. Teri says:

    Hi! I just started subscribing to your great website! I LOVE cooking and baking! This Monkey bread looks so good I can’t wait to try it! My daughter loves to bake with me too… Do you think it would be too much for a Sunday morning to add a drizzle of icing to the top?

  2. Y says:

    MMm.. That monkey bread looks awesome! I bet the aroma when you lifted the lid after baking, would’ve been so good! Great photos too, by the way!

  3. Ashley says:

    Oh drool this looks amazingly yummy.

  4. Dicentra says:

    Holey smokes that looks awesome!! I just posted your link to a forum I go to a lot – they love dutch oven recipes. Yum yum yum!!!

  5. Sledet says:

    You sound like an awesome guy. And the bread looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe

  6. Dana says:

    The monkey bread we made in girl scouts never looked that good. It tasted amazing, but it always just a sticky gooey mess.

    Great blog! I’d like to link to it over at mine, if that’s alright with you.

  7. Ooh, I would love to put me hands in there and start pulling these apart! Looks spectacular!

  8. megan says:

    i LOVE monkey bread. it’s so fun to make as well 🙂 yours looks absolutely delish!

  9. Judith says:

    That looks fantastic, but I’m wondering – is a dutch oven basically a large cast-iron skillet? That’s what it looks like from the pictures. Do you happen to know the diameter of yours? I have an eight-inch cast-iron skillet, so I might try halving the recipe if that sounds about right.

  10. Bruce says:

    Have you ever tried to bake a bread in it…..the NY Times recipe for instance?

  11. petebakes says:

    @Teri – i don’t think there’s anything that can’t be enhanced with icing.

    @Judith – it is basically a large cast iron skillet – mine is about 10″ wide. however, it’s about 4″ deep, so keep that in mind if you’re going to use a skillet that’s a bit more shallow.

    @Bruce – I haven’t made any bread in it yet, but the NYT recipe would be perfect! maybe that will be next weekend’s project.

  12. Amy says:

    I am thinking of making this with the Brioche Bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Having cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread in about an hour would be awesome!

  13. Andy says:

    All my life I have always heard it called Monkey Brains – because it looks like, well, monkey brains. And it makes it even more appealing to Cub Scouts.

    I just assumed the name was bowdlerized when Pillsbury put it in a recipe pamphlet.

  14. Arthur says:

    I’ve used your recipe and baked in a traditional oven with a bundt pan, the results have been wonderful.

  15. Z says:

    I just discovered your site. I can say that I will be spending the remainder of my evening perusing the archives! I can’t wait to try this recipe. I have a cast iron skillet that’s about three inches deep and has a cover – think it will do as a makeshift dutch oven?

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  18. donna says:

    Hi I was wondering if I could bake the bread in a cupcake pan?? I like everything to be one serving! will this work?

    • petebakes says:

      these would certainly work in a cupcake pan. i would just reduce the baking time and judge based on when they look golden brown and caramelized.

  19. D says:

    That’s cool that you’re an Eagle scout I’m a boy scout too!I can’t wait to try your Monkey bread.

  20. Jessica says:

    Where to you go, Pete??? I love your recipes and photos!

  21. Jessica says:

    Where did you go, Pete?? I love your recipes and photos!

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