Monkey bread is a celebration of life, liberty, equality, fraternity, Pilgrims, Native Americans, the pursuit of happiness, shoes with oversized buckles, burning the witch, Mt. Rushmore, The Great Gatsby, and manifest destiny, most often made with a cylinder of Pillsbury biscuit dough. I read that Nancy Reagan used to serve it at the White House. Say “no” to drugs and a resounding “yes” to buttery gobs of dough baked into a collective loaf. Am I right? The cinnamon version is the most well known and the one I remember from childhood. But today I wanted to make an herbed bread that could be served in place of rolls on Thanksgiving, at a holiday open house, or a New Year’s Eve bash. This version takes a few hours of rising and waiting and kneading in a stand mixer to make it from scratch, but the scent of yeast and the feeling of sticky dough in your hands is awfully satisfying. I used rosemary, thyme and paprika, but any other herbs, such as sage or chives would also work well. Double the recipe and bake in a bundt pan to bring to your family feast this Thursday.
Savory Monkey Bread
Adapted from a recipe on Serious Eats
- 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- cooking spray
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, combine milk, sugar, AP flour, and yeast. Mix thoroughly, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for one hour.
Add white whole wheat flour and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Add salt and half a stick of butter and continue kneading until all of the butter has been incorporated and the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.
Form dough into ball and coat with thin layer of oil or cooking spray. Return to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled, 40 minutes to one hour.
Meanwhile, pulse garlic, rosemary, thyme, and paprika in the food processor, about 10-12 one-second pulses. Add remaining half stick of butter to herbs and process until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Set mixture aside at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and knead for 10 seconds. Divide in half, and continue dividing each half in half until you have 32 even pieces. Roll pieces into balls. Using hands, coat each ball with compound butter and add to greased 8×8 glass baking dish or cake pan. Balls should be stacked together, but not compressed. Cover with plastic for dough to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Brush the top with a little more melted butter and bake approximately 35 minutes, until the bread is a deep, golden brown.