© Ryan Szulc
Monkey bread and banana butter
Dishes that you can prep or cook ahead to save time later
The only thing better than tearing your own little steaming cinnamon-scented roll off a loaf and slathering it with delicious banana butter is watching your family and friends do the same before showering the baker with praise. Monkey bread is the perfect weekend morning treat — and so easy when you bake a batch the day before and gently warm it.
Today for tomorrow:
• Measure the dry ingredients a few days in advance, ready to bake when the time comes. Store tightly sealed in a zip-top bag.
• Make and shape the dough the night before, refrigerate overnight, then rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before baking the next morning.
For the dough
2 c. (500 ml) milk
¼ c. (60 ml) brown sugar
¼ c. (60 g) butter, melted
1 tbsp. (15 ml) instant yeast
1 tbsp. (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
5 c. (1.25 L) all purpose flour
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
To roll the dough
½ c. (125 g) butter, melted
1 c. (250 ml) sugar
3 tbsp. (45 ml) cinnamon
For the banana butter
2 ripe bananas
½ c. (125 g) butter, softened
2 tbsp. (30 ml) honey
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Begin with the dough. Measure the milk, brown sugar, melted butter, yeast and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir together with the dough hook just long enough to dissolve the sugar, not even a minute. Add the flour and salt, and continue kneading on low speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms and then pulls away from the side of the bowl, 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover drum-tight with plastic wrap. Rest the dough on your kitchen counter until it doubles in size, 2 to 3 hours.
Pour the melted butter for rolling the dough into a large, shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Lightly oil a 13- x 9-inch (33- x 23-cm / 3.5 L) baking pan.
Knock down the risen dough and pull and tug it into 15 or 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece under your palm until it forms into a tight ball. (You may find it helpful to lightly moisten the rolling surface with a drop or two of water.) Roll each ball in the melted butter, coating it thoroughly and draining well, then neatly roll in the cinnamon sugar. If you’ve made 15 balls, arrange them 3 × 5 in the pan or 6 × 4 for 24 balls. Rest, uncovered, until doubled in size, an hour or so.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Carefully place the risen dough in the oven and bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.
You can make the banana butter while you’re waiting for the dough to rise or while the bread bakes. Mash the bananas, butter, honey and vanilla with a fork or spoon, or for a really smooth consistency, blend in a blender or food processor. Fill a small bowl with the butter, ready to spread on the freshly baked, freshly torn monkey bread balls. Makes 15 or 24 pieces.
• Tightly seal the bread and refrigerate for up to 6 days; refrigerate the butter for a week or so.
• Tightly seal the bread and freeze for up to 30 days. Thaw, sealed, for an hour or two at room temperature. (Ovens and microwaves tend to dry and toughen bread.); tightly seal and freeze the butter for a month or more.
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