Serious Eats: Recipes

Bread Baking: Savory Monkey Bread

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

MMmmmm...savory monkey!

Wait. What?

It's a funny name, and it's a fun loaf of bread. I don't know what it is about pull-apart loaves, but they invite nibbling. People who would normally eat one slice of bread often find themselves unable to resist pulling off just one more little bit. And then one more. And then this little piece is dangling ... this bread simply doesn't last long.

While I normally suggest that you don't slice a loaf of bread until it's completely cooled, the monkey bread doesn't want you to wait. Go ahead and serve it warm.

Tips on Making this Recipe...
by hand-kneading »
in a stand mixer »
with a food processor »

When most people think of monkey bread, they think of the cinnamon-sugar version, but there's no reason why you can't make an herby, savory version that's perfect for lunch, brunch, or dinner. The flavors I chose for this one were garlic, paprika, rosemary and thyme. If you now have a song stuck in your head, don't blame me. And if you don't like the combination of flavors I chose, use whatever you like.

I baked mine in a square glass baking dish, mostly because I had just pulled it out of the dishwasher and it was convenient, but you could bake it in a loaf pan, cake pan, or any fancy-shaped baking dish you have. If you're feeling artistic, you could arrange the dough balls in a pattern, or just leave it random and rustic. I used a little bit of white wheat flour in this recipe, with mostly all-purpose white flour. Feel free to adjust that ratio any way you'd like.

I gave directions for kneading this with a stand mixer, but because of the long initial rest the gluten is well on its way to being developed before the kneading starts, so this would be a good candidate for learning how to hand knead. It won't take long at all.

The instruction for making the herbed butter is written for a food processor or other similar device, but you can certainly do this step by hand. I used dry herbs because I like the results for baked toppings, but you can use fresh. Just keep in mind that dried herbs are usually about 3 times as strong as fresh (assuming that your dried herbs haven't been in the spice cabinet for ten years) so you'll need more fresh herbs for the same amount of flavor.

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She most recently launched the blog Cookistry and has now joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.

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