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.
Can I make it in advance?
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 Hazelnut Monkey Bread
- 3 Tablespoon 42g unsalted butter
- 1 cup 236 ml whole milk
- 1/4 cup 59 mL water
- 1/4 cup 50g granulated sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast 2 1/2 teaspoons or 21g
- 3 1/4 cups 390g all-purpose flour, plus more as needed - no more than 1/4 c.
- 2 tsp 12g salt
- 1/2 cup 100g light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup 100g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp 4g cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp 0.5g ground nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon 14g unsalted butter, softened, for pan
- 10 Tablespoon 140g unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup 65g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- In a small saucepan, melt butter, then add the milk and water until warmed to 110°F (43°C). Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and yeast until combined. Set aside for 5 minutes; it will foam which tells you the yeast is active!
- In the meantime, combine 3 1/4 cups flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a bread hook. Slowly add in the milk mixture while stirring on the lowest setting. Increase the speed and continue mixing for 6-7 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the dough is smooth and tacky. If the dough is super sticky and sticks to your finger when touched quickly, add more flour, 1 TBSP at a time, until it's tacky, but not sticky.
- Coat a large bowl with a tiny bit of oil and add the dough (the little bit of oil helps prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl). Cover with a tea towel, and set in a warm place to rise. Let rise until doubled, approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. To speed up the rising process, preheat the oven to 200°F, turn it off, and then place your bowl in the warmed oven for rising (make sure the oven is off!!).
- Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Use the softened tablespoon of butter to grease the bundt pan well, being sure to get all the nooks and crannies.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and 2 teaspoons of the melted butter into the bottom of the bundt pan.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and gently remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Use your lightly floured (and clean!) hands to press the dough into an approximately 14x10 inch rectangle (does not have to be exact at all!). Cut the dough into about 56 equally sized pieces (a pizza cutter or bench scraper works well, as does a good ole fashioned knife).
- Roll each piece into a ball, dip into melted butter, letting the excess drip off, and roll into sugar mixture; using a fork to transfer each piece helps prevent a big mess. Place the coated dough ball in the bundt pan, staggering them evenly around the pan. Once all balls are formed and placed in the bundt pan, drizzle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter over the top of the dough. Be careful to not add too much extra butter, or your caramel will separate with excess butter.
- Cover the 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) until it is about doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, until fragrant. Chop into small pieces.
- Once the dough is almost done with its final rise, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). If you were letting the dough rise in the oven, remember to remove the bundt pan at this point. 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.