Monkey Bread – Also known as Monkey Brains

Galit showed me this recipe just as I told a friend that I’d eat anything, even monkey brains. These two incidents might not appear related however Monkey Bread has some alternative names including, you guessed it, Monkey Brains. Also Bubble Loaf, Sticky Bread and Pinch Me Loaf.

Monkey Bread is an American favourite dating from the 1950s. Most Americans make it with frozen biscuit dough but the original recipes were bread, like this one. It is an ideal recipe to make with kids.

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread

Steven Thomas
Monkey bread made the original way with yeast dough rather than biscuit dough. An ideal recipe to make with kids.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings 8 people


Ingredients for dough

  • 8 grams active dry yeast or 16 grams fresh yeast
  • 70 grams water tepid
  • 500 grams strong white flour
  • 40 grams sugar
  • 7 grams salt
  • 2 grams Vanilla extract
  • 225 grams milk lukewarm
  • 65 grams eggs without shell
  • 35 grams butter melted

Ingredients for topping

  • 60 grams butter
  • 150 grams Demerara sugar
  • 5 grams cinnamon
  • 35 grams Pecan nuts chopped (about 15 nuts)


Instructions for dough

  • Mix water, yeast and a sprinkle of the flour to the bowl of a standing mixer
  • Leave until the yeast activates, about 10 min
  • Add the remaining flour, sales, vanilla, sugar, milk, egg and butter to the bowl
  • Mix with the dough hook on low for 2 minutes (Kitchen Aid 1)
  • Mix with the dough hook on medium for 5 minutes (Kitchen Aid 2; dough should pull away from sides and form a ball)
  • Shape dough roughly into a ball
  • Return to bowl, cover bowl, and leave to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size (about 1 hour)
  • Leave to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size (about 1.5 hours)

Instructions for bread

  • Grease ring cake tin
  • Get the chopped pecans and put them in a position handy to the cake tin
  • Melt butter in a small bowl and allow to cool
  • Mix Demerara sugar and cinnamon in a second small bowl
  • Dust work surface with some flour
  • Pour dough onto your work surface
  • Form dough balls each of 30 grams weight (cut off dough, weigh, shape into ball, put to side)
  • Dip a dough ball into butter
  • dip a dough ball into cinnamon and sugar
  • Put a dough ball into loaf tin
  • Put in more dough balls until you have a layer of them, ensure there is a little bit of space between adjacent balls as they will grow
  • Sprinkle on half the chopped nuts
  • Put another layer of dough balls into the cake tin (as above)
  • Sprinkle on the remaining chopped nuts
  • Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour)
  • Heat Oven to 180º C (160º C fan)
  • Bake until cake is risen and golden, and a toothpick comes out dry (30-35 minutes)
  • Cool for 15 min
  • Turn out upside down onto a cooling rack
  • Rip apart with your bare hands helped by small children


Also known as Monkey Brains, Bubble Loaf, Sticky Bread and Pinch Me Loaf.
One time I baked this in a round tin rather than a ring tin. I had to bake much longer. After 30 minutes I removed the cake from the tin, inserted in onto a baking tray, and returned it to the oven for another 15 minutes.

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