This ooey-gooey-caramely-fluffy-yeasty-warm-monkey-bread is coming to a holiday breakfast table near you.
We’re only a few days away from Christmas (if you celebrate) and if you don’t, your weekend plans still just got a whole lot better. My holiday break started Wednesday (teacher life, yo), but in typical “it’s finally time to take it easy and relax” fashion, my body has serious recovery plans in the form of sore throats, aches, and lethargy. We’re still in the early stages, so I’m fighting it with every means I can think of (essential oil diffuser, hot showers, and turmeric, ginger, honey, lemon tea. Oh, and a big batch of Homemade Hazelnut Monkey Bread, because who doesn’t need all the comfort when they feel a big cold coming on?
What do your holidays look like? Do you mix it up year-to-year, or stick to traditions? I’ve said it before, I am a huge traditionalist. I used to be pretty rigid about it, but this year I’m loosening the reigns a little bit. We’ve veered away from some of our typical holiday dinners, but Homemade Cinnamon Rolls will forever be a Christmas morning tradition. Until now. Until Hazelnut Monkey Bread became a thing.
Well, to be totally honest, the cinnamon rolls will still probably get the big Christmas morning, but you can bet Christmas Eve morning, and likely every other morning of winter break, is going to have these pillows of perfection.
When I grew up, monkey bread was a quick, easy, fun breakfast to make. As a kid, I loved cutting up the prepackaged biscuits, rolling them in cinnamon sugar, and smelling the butter as it melted.
Here’s the thing: sure, that was quick, and easy, but it was also only 1% of delicious as it could have been, and full of weird biscuit-in-a-tube ingredients. I’m not trying to be a snob here: I will eat canned biscuit monkey bread (hello, it’s still monkey bread) but once you’ve had this Homemade Hazelnut Monkey Bread, you will not go back. I promise.
We’re not talking about quick, because this beautiful dough needs plenty of time to rise to perfection. Magic doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers, people! You’ll need two rises: the first, just after mixing the dough and the second, after you make all your little balls of cinnamon, sugar, and now NUTMEG goodness.
That’s why this recipe is perfect for lazy holiday mornings. You need to have extra time to be able to sip coffee, mimosas, laugh, and watch Christmas movies in your PJs while the dough does its thing.
One of my favorite moments is the still of Christmas morning, before all the festivities begin. Coffee, and Christmas lights, and presents under the tree. And fresh, yeasty bread rising.
For an extra depth of flavor, I love to add nutmeg to the cinnamon sugar mixture. It adds such warm, spice element and balances out all that sugar. Oh, but the sugar!!! Both granulated and brown sugar here. Texture, texture, texture!
After the second rise, the dough is cut into all those little pieces, rolled into “balls” (no true ball form needed), dipped into melted butter, and rolled in the nutmeg-sugar mix. They’re thrown into a bundt pan, in a somewhat uniform fashion, and left to rise for another hour or so.
They’ll bake for about 30-35 minutes, and with a little bit of extra butter and sugar thrown in the pan, before that second rise, a just-right layer of caramel forms. When the monkey bread is flipped onto a pan, that caramel oozes along the edges, creating a super fantastic caramel layer across the monkey bread.
If you want to save a little time on the rises, make the dough the night before, and let the first rise happen overnight in the fridge. When I did this, the dough didn’t rise as much the first time, but the final product was just as fantastic. Of course, I’d always recommend day-of over anything, but this helps if you don’t have all morning to devote to monkey bread.
It also makes the perfect sticking point for toasted, chopped hazelnuts. Toasting the hazelnuts before chopping them brings out such a rich aroma and flavor. The crunch they add to the monkey bread is heavenly, and the flavor, outta this world.
I honestly cannot get over the fluffy, pillowy balls of monkey bread, the flavor of the nutmeg, sugar, and cinnamon, paired with the crunch and warmness of toasted hazelnuts. It’s all I want for Christmas, that’s for sure.
Homemade Monkey Bread with toasted hazelnuts is going to be a huge hit – with the addition of the warm spice, nutmeg, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, this monkey bread is worth the rise time!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 packet yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3 1/4 cups flour (additional as needed – no more than 1/4 c.)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon butter, softened for pan
- 10 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter to 110°F. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and yeast until combined. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine 3 1/4 cups flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a bread hook. Slowly stir in milk mixture. Increase the speed and continue mixing for 6-7 minutes until dough is smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. If the dough is super sticky, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until tacky, but not overly sticky.
- Coat a large bowl with a tiny bit of oil, toss in dough, cover with a tea towel, and set in a warm place. Let rise until doubled, approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. To speed up the rising process, pre-heat the oven to 200°F, turn it off, and then place your bowl in the warmed oven for rising.
- Mix together brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Butter a bundt pan with softened butter. Place remaining melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1-2 teaspoons butter into bottom of bundt pan.
- Punch down dough and gently remove from bowl. Roll out into a 14×10 inch rectangle (does not have to be exact at all!). Cut into 56 pieces. Roll into a ball, dip into melted butter, letting the excess drip off, and roll into sugar mixture. Place in the bundt pan, stagger them around the pan evenly. Once all balls are formed and placed in bundt pan, drizzle 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon-sugar mix and butter around. Be sure not to add too much extra butter, or your caramel with be separated with excess butter.
- Cover bundt pan with a tea towel, and again let rise for 1 – 1.5 hours in a warm environment (use the oven method again if desired).
- Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, until fragrant. Chop into small pieces.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F (remove bundt pan if you were letting them rise in there). Once bread as risen (it should almost double again), bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and pieces are golden brown, crispy on the top, and pull apart from each other. Let sit for 3-5 minutes (no longer) and invert onto a large plate. Top with toasted hazelnuts and serve warm.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients for the dough, and continue to knead by hand for 10-12 minutes.
You can make the dough the night before, and put it in the fridge for the first rise. Then, in the morning, take it out, let it come to room temperature enough to be able to roll out and form into the balls. Continue on with recipe for the second rise.