Oh, monkey bread! How we love you — little pull-apart nuggets of buttery, gooey cinnamon goodness. And I've been thinking about how easy monkey bread is when you've been making pizza! What? How are they related? Well, leftover pizza dough is a perfect base for monkey bread and other breakfast treats. And even if you haven't been making pizza lately, store-bought, ready-made pizza dough is also a way to get these into the oven (and into your mouth!) that much quicker.
These little monkey breads are designed for eating on the go a little more easily than the full-sized traditional monkey bread that needs to be picked apart piece by piece. They are baked in muffin cups, and they come out all gooey and crisp from the butter. They get a lovely lemony glaze, creamy and touched by honey.
And yet they're not too sweet. That's the beauty of using pizza dough here — it's not too rich, and not sweet at all. So you have chunks of dough, yeasty and tender, encased and baked in a buttery, cinnamon glaze, and tumbled together with chopped apples, raisins, and (if you like!) dried cranberries.
All together these are a marvelous breakfast treat — warm and sweet from the oven, and good for eating on the go, or at a leisurely breakfast with family.
And one last note: For anyone who has ever had the cobblestone at Panera Bread, that muffin-shaped monkey bread of cinnamon, raisins, and citrus glaze, these are really an attempt to get them at home. I like these much better — they have all the right flavors, but they're not so teeth-achingly sweet.
Apple Cinnamon Mini Monkey Breads
1 1/2 pounds prepared pizza dough OR 1 batch dough (below)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mixed dried fruit, such a mix of raisins, currants, and cranberries
2 small or 1 large apple, about 1/2 pound
1 lemon, zested
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
Flour, for dusting the dough
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon cream or milk
2 teaspoons honey
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar
Lightly mist a large piece of parchment or baking sheet with baking spray. Lay the dough out on it and pat into a roughly 2-inch-thick rectangle. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut it into 4 roughly equal pieces. Cut each of these into 12 lumps, for a total of about 48 dough lumps about the size of your thumb. Sprinkle flour over top of the dough pieces, cover with towel, and set aside while you prepare the monkey bread filling.
Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by lightly greasing the wells or lining with paper muffin cups.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and set aside to cool completely.
Roughly chop the dried fruit and place in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, and grate them into the bowl with the dried fruit. Stir in the lemon zest as well as the brown sugar. Sprinkle the dough pieces again lightly with flour, to help keep them from sticking to each other, then toss them with the dried fruit, apples, and brown sugar. Pour the completely cooled melted butter into the bowl and stir to coat the pieces of dough.
Quickly scoop up handfuls of the dough and fruit mixture and place them in muffin cups (about 4 pieces to each cup). If there is any leftover butter in the bowl, pour this evenly over the monkey breads.
At this point the monkey breads can be covered lightly and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, take out of the fridge and let them rise for 1 hour before baking.
Set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 400°F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned on top and the insides register about 190°F on an instant read thermometer.
While they are baking, make the glaze. Warm the cream and honey in the microwave or in a small saucepan until the honey is dissolved. Whisk together with the lemon juice and powdered sugar until it forms a thick, creamy glaze.
Remove the monkey breads from the oven and drizzle the glaze over the tops. Serve warm.
Monkey Bread Dough
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 1/4 cup cold or lukewarm water
Mix the yeast with the flour and salt in a large bowl. Slowly mix in the oil and water. Knead for 5 to 7 minutes by hand or with the dough hook of a stand mixer, until the dough is smooth, stretchy, and pliable. Proceed with Monkey Bread recipe (above).
More Monkey Bread
(Images: Faith Durand)