Friday, June 15, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread

As this blog is titled Screw Your Diet, I figured I'd want to set a precedent for this nice and early. So to get things started, I've got a recipe for the delicious Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart bread you see above. Sometimes referred to as Monkey Bread and resembling a sweet, sugary Shar-Pei, it's actually fairly easy to put together so long as you have the time and patience to let your dough rise a bit. Head on past the page break to get the recipe, or just continue to ogle the picture. Your choice!

Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker

Difficulty: Medium
Active Prep Time: About 30 minutes
Total Prep Time: About 3 hours
Special Equipment: None

Dough Ingredients:
  • 3  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

1. Begin by activating your yeast. Whisk yeast into 3 tablespoons of warm water. Add a pinch of granulated sugar and set aside. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

3. Whisk together eggs in a separate bowl and set aside.

4. In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Set aside and let mixture stand for a minute or two.

5. Pour the milk mixture and the activated yeast into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until combined. 

6. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it takes a little while to fully combine with the dough, but don't give up! Add the remaining cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky.

7. Grease a large bowl with butter and plop the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

8. While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside.

9. Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into it. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

10. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too.

11. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If it's not exactly that size, YOU'RE DOOMED. No, seriously, just make it as big as you can. Just roll it as large as the dough will go.

12. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Yes, all of it.

13. Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal columns once again. You should end up with six stacks of six squares.

14. Place the little piles of goodness into the loaf pan like a flip-book (Picture for reference). Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

15. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

16. Place loaf in the oven on the center rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

17. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the  upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.

Additional notes:
  • Goes particularly well with a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Though the recipe calls for unsalted butter, using salted butter doesn't make a tangible difference.
  • After the initial rising phase (Step 7), you can refrigerate the dough overnight for use later. Just be sure to let it sit out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before moving on.


  1. Does it matter if you substitute brown sugar? It just seems more fitting with cinnamon and all! :)

    1. I haven't actually tried it that way myself, but I don't see why it couldn't work.