Monkey Bread (thanks Susana!)

On occasion, my sister e-mails me recipes to try. Not for her to make... just me. Yes, she's a funny bunny. Initially when I saw "monkey bread" I thought "watagatapetisberry?" (song title) Never heard of it my life. Quite frankly, I was slightly turned away by name. Then I read more about it and became clear... you must make this. This is a modified version from Cook's Illustrated.
The result.... awesome. Everyone was raving about it. I deal with some serious food critiques. My brother said, "This is one the best things you've ever made"... even the boyfriend requested more. This recipe is time consuming but wow... it's worth it. It tastes like a cinnamon bun in the form of donut holes you can pluck off. Fluffy and delicious.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, super softened
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/3 cup water, lukewarm
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

Brown Sugar Coating

1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), melted

Cream Cheese Glaze

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter Bundt pan lightly. Set aside.

In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Note, it has to be luke warm. If it's too hot, the yeast will fizzle up. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, mix flour and salt with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. (The dough should be sticky but if it is too wet to come together into anything cohesive, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.

If you're doing it by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball.

Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a high location until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

When that's just about done, prepare the brown sugar coating... place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one. Take any left over butter and drizzle against sides of bundt pan.

Form the bread... flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Here's an easy cheat: take a regular sheet of paper to measure (8.5x11). Using a pizza cutter, bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces. I used the pizza cutter because it's quick and easy.
Roll each piece of dough into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. I highly recommend chop sticks for this process. Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly.

For the glaze... Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla. If you want it thinner, add a little more milk.

Drizzle the glaze over monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread.

Serve warm.