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), at room temperature
Flour, for dusting the dough
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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 8 ounces total)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
Lightly coat a large piece of parchment paper or baking sheet with baking spray. Place the dough on it and pat into a rough 2-inch-thick rectangle. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut it into 4 equal pieces. Cut each piece 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; set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Coarsely chop the dried fruit and place in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, and grate them on the large holes of a box grater into the bowl with the dried fruit. Add the brown sugar and lemon zest and stir to combine.
Sprinkle the dough pieces again lightly with flour, to help keep them from sticking to each other, then add the bowl of dried fruit and toss to combine. Pour in the cooled melted butter 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. About 20 minutes before the dough is ready, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Bake until browned on top and the insides register about 190°F on an instant read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze.
Heat the cream and honey in the microwave or in a small saucepan until the honey is dissolved. Add 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and the lemon juice and whisk until it forms a thick, creamy glaze. If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more powered sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Remove the monkey breads from the oven and drizzle the glaze over the tops. Serve warm.
Monkey Bread Dough
3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 1/4 cups cold or lukewarm water
Place the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. 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).
Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.