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.
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.
- 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter, divided
- vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, combine milk, sugar, all-purpose 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 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the 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, put garlic, rosemary, thyme, and paprika in bowl of food processor and pulse until the garlic has been chopped to small bits and the herbs are well mixed, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as necessary, about 10-12 one-second pulses. Add remaining four tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter to herbs and process until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Set mixture aside at room temperature.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and knead for 10 seconds. Using bench scraper, divide in half. continue dividing each half in half until you have 32 even pieces. Roll pieces into balls. Using hands, coat each ball with butter mixture and add to greased 8x8 glass baking dish, cake pan, or bundt pan. Balls should be stacked together, but not compressed. Cover with plastic allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake until the loaf is deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or cooled.