Monkey bread is awesome. Chai is awesome. So I put them together. You’re welcome.
My mom used to make monkey bread for me when I was a wee one (sometimes called pull-apart bread, and I’m pretty sure our aussie fans have another word for it, but I can’t remember what it is), and since my new year’s resolution to become an expert at all things baking-with-yeast, I have been perfecting my recipe. And by “perfecting my recipe” I mean “feeding my family empty carbs.” It’s been rough. This recipe isn’t easy per se (it’s no one-minute-microwave coffee cake in a cup), but it’s also not difficult. It’s just requires a little time for things to rise. But it’s worth it.
Read on for the full Chai Monkey Bread Recipe…
Chai Monkey Bread Recipe
3.5 cups bread flour
4 tea salt, divided
1 packet yeast (rapid-rise is easier, but active dry will also work)
1/3 cup water
1 cup milk
1.5 cups butter, divided
3 tbls honey
1 tbls vanilla
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chai powder (see below)
1 tea cinnamon
How to Make Chai Monkey Bread
First, you’ll need to make a bread dough. Any sandwich bread dough you prefer should work, here is my easy recipe.
In the bowl of your stand mixer add 3.5 cups of bread flour and two teaspoons of salt. If you have rapid-rise or instant yeast, also include a packet in here. I prefer rapid-rise yeast, but since I asked my husband to pick some up at the store I, of course, did not get rapid-rise yeast, but instead only have active dry yeast.
That’s okay. If you have active dry here’s what you do: warm 1/3 cup of water, then double check that it’s over 110 but under 125 degrees (any liquid over 125 degrees will KILL yeast, so it’s important to check), then dump your packet of active dry yeast into the water and stir.
Now, you’ll need to mix your wet ingredients. I like to do it right in the measuring cup. You’ll need one cup of milk, warm (between 110-125 degrees), 4 tablespoons of butter melted and cooled, and three tablespoons of honey. If you used rapid-rise yeast, you’ll also need 1/3 cup of warm water mixed in. If you used active-dry yeast, add your mixture of yeast and water. Stir everything together.
Now turn your mixer on the lowest setting and with the dough hook attachment, add the liquid to the flour mixture and combine for one minute or so until the dough comes together. It should look like this (still rough, not yet smooth, but not sticking to the sides).
Now turn the mixer up one notch to medium low and let it knead the dough for about ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Take the dough out and knead it by hand on the counter (no flour needed) for a minute, until it’s a nice smooth ball, like this:
Grease a bowl with cooking spray or whatever you like, place the ball of dough inside, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit to rise for an hour or an hour and a half. If you are new to bread-making, a good trick is to snap a pic of the dough with your phone, so you can double check the rise after sixty minutes and decide if you need to wait a little longer.
While that’s rising, get everything ready for your monkey bread making. Grease a bundt pan and set it aside. Melt a stick of butter. Add a tablespoon of vanilla to it and stir, then set it aside to cool. On a baking sheet or jelly roll pan (one with a lip), pour all your sugars and spices: 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, two teaspoons of salt, and the secret ingredient: 1/3 cup chai powder mix.
As for chai powder, this one from Trader Joe’s is my ultimate favorite.
Note: If you want to make non-chai monkey bread, leave out the chai powder and add an extra 1/4 cup of white sugar and one more teaspoon of cinnamon.
Mix the sugars together.
When your dough has risen, it’s time to roll your monkey balls. I just really wanted to say monkey balls, thank you. You can cut pieces of dough off as you go, with your goal being somewhere between 30-40 pieces of dough, or you can divide your dough in half, then half again, then half again until you have 40 pieces pre-cut. Don’t tear the dough to pieces though – that does bad things to the gluten or something science-y like that. Cut it. Then grab a piece and roll it in your hand into a tight ball.
Dunk it in the butter-vanilla mixture, then roll it in the sugars to coat. Don’t be afraid to really glop it on! Stick it in your bundt pan. Repeat. Try to alternate the placement of your monkey balls, which will assist in keeping your final monkey bread from falling apart.
Once you’ve created all your balls, pour the remaining butter mixture over the bread, then sprinkle all the remaining sugar mixture. Cover the bundt pan in plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again. This rise should take another one to two hours. If it’s cold it might take longer. At least, it always seems like that in my house, but it could be my imagination.
Once your bread has risen, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, the bread should look golden brown and the caramel sugars should be all bubbly and smell divine. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen (I often use a silicone bundt pan for this, which completely eliminates any problems with sticking). Turn the bundt pan over on a serving plate. Gooey stuff will run all over it. So good.
If you want, you can add a glaze. It definitely DOES NOT need a glaze, but Scarlet always begs for it so sometimes I give in.
Just mix a pound or so of powdered sugar with a tablespoon or two of water or milk (you could also add a teaspoon of vanilla for a vanilla-chai taste sensation).
Eat. Eat. Eat.
Enjoy your monkey bread my prudent monkey friends!