Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Monkey Bread and Cinnamon Rolls

I discovered Monkey Bread when I was in my early twenties.  Someone brought some to an office Christmas Party, I got the recipe and it has been a holiday tradition in our home ever since.  Over the years, I've found the same recipe by different names ...Cinnamon Bubble Ring, Cobblestone Cake.  It's all Monkey Bread with a fancier name.  I like to bake it in a fluted bundt pan because I think it's prettier but you can use a 9x13 rectangular pan or two 8-inch round or square pans.  I've even seen it baked in a 2-pound coffee can.  Just spray whatever pan you will use with Pam (or similar) nonstick cooking spray before you add the dough.
The recipe is very simple.  You need:

4 cans refrigerator biscuits
(Pillsbury or store-brand, doesn't matter)
1 cup sugar plus 2 Tbsps cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1 cube butter, melted (not margarine or butter substitute)
Put the sugar & cinnamon in a large ziplock bag
Open the canned biscuits, cut into fourths
Drop the dough pieces a few at a time in the ziplock bag
Shake to coat, then put them in pre-sprayed baking pan
When all the dough pieces are in the pan,
Combine the brown sugar & melted butter
Pour evenly over the top of the dough

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then cover top with foil and back an additional 10-15 minutes

To serve, place an appropriate sized/shaped platter over the baking pan and invert.  Can be served warm or cold and makes a good breakfast bread.  

I have been making cinnamon rolls for several family members and friends at Christmas for almost 20 years.  I usually half the dough and make two 8-inch pans (approximately 12 rolls in each pan) from one recipe of dough.  I also make a Monkey Bread or two, usually at my daughter's request and usually using my fluted bundt pan for the Monkey Bread.  While I was thinking about Monkey Bread the other day, it occurred to me that I could stack the rolls on their sides in a bundt pan and I would have pull apart cinnamon rolls!   A cinnamon roll ring!  When it was done baking, it would fit on a normal 8-inch dinner plate or round serving platter and it would be easy to use a fork to pull one (or two) rolls off at a time. Ahh, decadence and convenience all in one pan!
I was had a day off a few weeks ago and Yeoldfurt was at work, so I decided to give it a try.  My fluted bundt pan that I use to make Monkey Bread held all but five of the rolls.  So I used a small rectangular Pyrex dish to stack the remaining rolls. The result, I hoped, would be a pretty and easy to serve Cinnamon Roll Ring and (mini) Cinnamon Roll Log. 

This is what the rolls looked like after 45 minutes raising time in my Excalibur dehydrator...

As you can see, there was not much 'head space' remaining for the rolls in the pyrex dish.  These rolls always rise a bit more during baking so next time, I will use one of my 1-pound loaf pans instead to give them a little more room. 
After they're raised, I always sprinkle the tops of the rolls with cinnamon and sugar, then cover with a generous layer of brown sugar.  The last step before baking is to melt a cube of butter (not margarine or spread) and pour over the top of the rolls.  When I was making the recipe in two 8-inch square pans, I would use 1/2 cup melted butter on each.  Since the bundt pan held considerably more rolls than the pyrex, I poured approximately 3/4 cup butter over the bundt pan and the remaining 1/4 cup over the pyrex. 

I was able to bake them together in the same oven, but since the rolls in the pyrex were already so close to the top of the dish, I had a lot of bubble-over during the baking process.  A waste of buttery goodness and a mess in the oven!  Using the 1-pound loaf pan next time should eliminate that problem.   This is what they looked like after baking.  We haven't sampled them yet, but I've been making these rolls for so many years, I can tell by looking if a batch came out good.  These will be good!  

Using the bundt pan and 1-pound loaf pan will streamline my holiday baking from now and I think it makes a prettier end product as well.  

This batch went to my office with me the following week and when the email came around two weeks after that announcing an upcoming Breakfast Staff Meeting I was asked by several co-workers if I was planning to bring another batch to the meeting.  I guess they were a hit!  I'm happy because it's so much faster and easier to bake them this way and I think the end product is pretty.

Yes, pretty matters at least to me  ...if I can't make it pretty, I won't want to make it.  If I don't make it, nobody gets to eat it.  So pretty matters.  Yeoldfurt was a quick study on that one.  Ha! 


  1. What about not cutting the rolls at all and put the "tube" of dough in the bundt pan...then cut it after it bakes? They wouldn't be pull-apart, but they'd still look pretty...

  2. I don't know but I could experiment next time, Anon. I'd have to cut it some because the tube would be too long. If you try it, come back and let me know how it comes out, okay?

    : )

  3. I don't care how you shape them, just get me a HUGE glass of milk !!!!

  4. Ah, yes cinnamon rolls and cold milk are a tempting combination, Kris!

    Which is why experimenting with other shapes will have to wait a while. I can't afford to have this stuff around to tempt me too often.

    : )

  5. OMG! I love monkey bread. Momma always sprinkled chopped pecans over the top. Now I am going to have to drop her a hint to make some next time I'm over there.

  6. Now see, Redneck, there's yet another reason for ya'll to move down here. I could be sending you home with firewood AND monkey bread! Have you ever had it with raisins? O M G !!!

    : )