Back in the day, when we still lived in Manhattan (and by back in the day, I mean 14 years ago . . . ), I went to City Bakery as often as possible. And whether it was breakfast time, the lunch hour, or even close to dinner, I always got the same thing: the baker’s muffin. Truth be told, we called it the “bubble muffin,” for its “bubbly top” and the fact that as you pulled it apart, small, individual, round(ish) pieces of dough (aka “bubbles”) came off in your hand. I now know that the bubble/baker’s muffin is really a monkey bread muffin (and honestly, I wish I’d been calling it “monkey” muffin, rather than “bubble” muffin for all these years – much cuter name), and I also now know how to make monkey bread, thanks to Claire Saffitz and Erin McDowell.
The dough here is all Erin (with a tiny tweak or two) and all brioche. The recipe is from her new book, The Fearless Baker, and it is fantastic: easy to make and spectacularly delicious. The monkey bread-making method is all Claire and all Bon Appetit. And the combo of Erin’s brioche and Claire’s technique is all that and then some.Full disclosure: I have not made a ton of brioche in my day, save for some recipe testing for Matt and Nato years ago, so you can trust me when I say it is not hard to make: it just takes a while to incorporate ALL that butter. This particular monkey bread is not super sweet, as I do not call for making a caramel sauce and pouring it atop the bread post-bake, as many recipes do, including the Bon Appetit one, but if your jonesing for more sweet, which, incidentally, I will love you for, check out the caramel sauce recipe here.
Overnight Monkey Bread
For the bread
- 5 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 5 eggs lightly whisked
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 1/2 sticks 14 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the cinnamon-sugar yumminess
- 2 sticks 8 oz unsalted butter melted (you can use a stick and a half, if the amount of butter in this recipe is scaring you)
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
To make the bread
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast, on low speed to combine. Add the eggs and milk and mix for about 5 minutes. The dough should form a sticky(ish), shaggy(ish) ball around the hook.
- Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the ROOM TEMPERATURE butter 1 tablespoon at a time, being careful to incorporate each addition before adding the next; this takes a while. Be patient and move slowly. Scrape the bowl down once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated. Then knead the dough until it is smooth(ish) and uniform(ish). This may take a few minutes more. The dough will be VERY wet and loose.
- Grease a large bowl with nonstick spray or softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place for up to 90 minutes, until the dough doubles in size.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap that overhangs the four edges of the pan, and transfer the dough to the pan. As best as you can, press the bread flat into the pan, attempting to get it into all four corners - the dough will bounce back a bit and may not be completely cooperative, but just do your best. Use the overhang to cover the dough and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Grease a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom, with cooking spray or softened butter and coat with Turbinado sugar, tapping out any excess. Set aside. If you do not have a tube pan, you can use a bundt pan, but I found it very difficult to get the monkey bread out intact with a bundt pan (and I tried kind of a lot).
- Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, peel away the plastic wrap covering the top, and using a pastry brush, generously brush the dough with half of the melted butter. Flip the dough over on to a cutting board (now the buttered side is facing down), peel off the remaining plastic wrap, and brush with the remaining butter.
- Using a pizza cutter if you have one, or a small paring knife, if you do not, cut the dough into a 15x9-inch grid. The goal is to have LOTS of small pieces of dough (aka "bubbles . . . "), so increase the numbers of the grid, if you would like. Moving relatively quickly, take each small piece of dough and roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture using your hands to form it into a tight ball. Place the balls in the prepared pan. Continue until you have used up all of the dough. If you have any extra cinnamon-sugar, sprinkle it on top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the monkey bread rest in a warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees, place the tube pan on a baking sheet (to catch melting butter) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the bread is 205-degrees, or until a thin knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out dry.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before using a small offset spatula or butter knife to loosen the bread from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides and loosen the bread from the bottom. Place the sides back on the pan; invert the bread onto a plate and remove the bottom and sides. Place a wire rack over bread and invert right side up onto it. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.