Whole Grain {Healthified} Monkey Bread

Whole Grain {Healthified} Monkey Bread

Guest post by Stephani, of The Cheapskate Cook 

Is it possible to have delicious, sticky, buttery monkey bread that’s actually good for you?

Well, the short answer is no.

However, what I’m proposing is a recipe much like Wii bowling is to getting healthy and fit. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s fun. And it’s worlds better than just sitting on the couch or popping open cans of pre-made dough.

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This monkey bread is made with freshly ground whole grains, healthy fats, and options for using healthier sweeteners like honey, molasses, and sucanat. For a lower gluten option, use spelt grain in your WonderMill to make the flour. Spelt is usually carried by the same companies that carry wheat berries, and it’s a sweet, nutty grain that works beautifully in dessert recipes.

In these directions, I tried to include notes about improvising, notes if you have a bread machine or mixer with a dough hook, if you want to brown the butter instead of just melting it, etc. The options are simply yummy.

 monkeybread10

Whole Grain {Healthified} Monkey Bread

This dough is the same recipe I use for our classic whole wheat sandwich slices, cinnamon rolls, calzones, and (with a little tweaking) homemade freezable pizza dough. It’s a gem we call “Very-Little-Bother Bread.” If you have a favorite whole wheat bread recipe that you know forwards and backwards, by all means, use that one instead. This is simply my bread of choice because it’s easy, frugal, and I know it like you know yours.

Ingredients for the Bread:

  • 3-4 cups freshly ground whole grain flour (wheat or spelt)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1- 1 1/4 cups warm water or milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, molasses, sucanat, white sugar or brown sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (olive oil, coconut oil or melted butter)

Ingredients for the Monkey:

  • 1 cup sugar (brown sugar, sucanat, or evaporated cane juice mixed with a teaspoon of molasses)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions:

Make the Dough:

If you have a bread machine, simply pour the ingredients (following the order recommended by the manufacturer) into the machine and set it on the dough cycle (so it gets mixed, kneaded and rises in the machine but does not bake).

If you don’t have a big white machine on your counter and you stir things with a spoon like me, follow the rest of these directions.

In a small bowl, combine water, sweetener and yeast. Stir together and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and salt. By now, the liquids mixture is probably forming foam on the top. That is the yeast interacting with the water and sweetener.

Add oil to the liquids. No need to stir. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir until a sticky dough forms. Add more flour to the dough (1-2 cups), until dough is still sticky but is too thick to stir easily with a spoon (don’t add so much flour that the dough becomes stiff).

If you have a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook, you’re golden. Simply let the mixer do the work (make sure your dough does not exceed the amount of whole wheat dough allowed in your mixer or you may burn out the motor. Ask me how I know).

If you have to knead it by hand, I want your awesome arm muscles. Either way, knead the dough until it is pliable and springs back into place when you press it with your finger. (Note: When I kneaded by hand, I didn’t knead very thoroughly. If you were making this into sandwich bread that needed to hold its own against lunchmeat and tomatoes, I would encourage you to knead better. However, you’re covering this in cinnamon sugar and melted butter, so who cares how springy the dough is?)

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Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with a towel. Allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes, until almost doubled (it’s okay if it isn’t, just as long as it rises some). Punch it down, then let it rise again for the same amount of time. Punch it down.

If you have a preschool boy, let them do it. They will love it.

While waiting for the bread to rise, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. If you like, you can leave it at that. However, I like to brown the butter because it takes the flavors up a notch, and it makes me feel like more of a gourmet cook than I really am.

monkeybreadbrownbutter

 Brown the Butter:

Slice the stick of butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and allow them to melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk frequently.

Besides whisking, all you have to do is watch the butter for a few minutes. After it melts, it will foam a little. Then the foam with die down and you’ll notice small flecks of brown on the bottom of the pan. The butter will smelly “nutty” (whatever that really means). Remove pan from heat immediately so it doesn’t burn.

Assemble the Monkey Bread:

Grease a bundt pan (or bread pan if you’re like me and don’t have one) and place it, a cookie sheet, the sugar, melted butter, and dough assembly-line style on the counter or table.

monkeybread8

Using a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch balls and plop them onto the cookie sheet. Don’t let them stack up too much or they will stick together. Take a fork and dip each ball into the melted butter, then into the sugar mixture, then drop it into the bread pan. Don’t try to make the monkey bread uniform. Continue this process until the dough is completely used up and the pan is full.

monkeybread1     monkeybread2

Cover the pan with plastic wrap or with a very large mixing bowl and let it rise 30-40 minutes, until puffy.

Bake the Bread:

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes, until bread is golden and tips are brown. There might even be some caramel bubbling along the edges. Remove bread from oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.

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If you haven’t already eaten half of it by then, gently turn the pan over onto a plate so the monkey bread (gently) falls out and shows off all its golden buttery deliciousness.

If desired, make a quick glaze by beating together 1-2 cups powdered sugar, 1-2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (because obviously this carb heaven needs more sugar). Drizzle it over the bread and serve immediately.

About The Cheapskate Cook

When Stephani and her husband got married, they lived in a renovated shed and had a grocery budget that matched. As a passionate whole-foodie, Stephani was determined to continue eating healthy, minimally-processed foods on their shoestring budget. So The Cheapskate Cook was born. You can follow the fun on her blog, where healthy meets frugal, or keep up with it via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Grain Mill Challenge Experience: This challenged inspired me to try whole grain baked goods I'd never made before - monkey bread, french bread, bagels, and more. If you're used to the white flour counterparts, whole grain is hard to get used to. However, freshly ground flour makes all the difference. I've completely lost my taste for white flour - in fact, whenever I have to work with it, the smell makes me crinkle my nose. It's nothing compared to the scent of warm, freshly ground flour. Without my grain mill, I think I would lose a lot of motivation for making healthy baked goods from scratch. I have no intention of going back.

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2 Responses to Whole Grain {Healthified} Monkey Bread

  1. Hi Stephani,
    That looks good!
    Have you tried refrigerating this overnight, just before the final rise? I like to put together something like cinnamon buns on Friday evening, refrigerate overnight, then bake for Saturday breakfast. I’m just wondering if you’ve tried that with monkey bread?

  2. Thanks! I haven’t tried it, but my guess is it wouldn’t work very well because whole wheat is heavier than white flour and takes a little more time and umph to rise.
    However, I’ve successfully made cinnamon rolls (using this same recipe) – rolled them out, buttered and sugared them, cut them, but didn’t let them rise the last time – then flash froze them on a cookie sheet and stored them in a freezer bag for up to two weeks.
    The night before I want to bake them, I take them out of the bag, place them on a greased baking dish, cover it with a towel, and let them thaw and rise overnight. Bake them at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes the next morning. Hope that helps!

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