Recipe provided by Julia Collin Davison of America's Test Kitchen
Why This Recipe Works
We wanted a slow-cooker recipe for monkey bread that didn't compromise on its sticky, sweet appeal. To expedite the rising and proofing in this recipe we used a generous amount of instant yeast and added sugar to the dough, which jump-started the yeast. Before assembling the bread, we rolled the balls of dough in melted butter and sugar to give them a thick, caramel-like coating. After shaping, dipping, and assembling the monkey bread directly into the foil-lined slow cooker, we cooked the bread on high for 3 to 4 hours. We didn't need to wait for a second proofing of the dough after it was shaped; the gentle heat of the slow cooker properly proofed the dough as it came up to temperature, allowing us to walk away and enjoy the sweet smell of cinnamon. To prevent uneven cooking and possible overbrowning, and to make the monkey bread easy to remove and serve, we placed both a foil collar and double-layered sling in the slow cooker. When the bread was finished cooking, we used the foil sling to remove it to cool slightly before inverting, showing off the gooey, caramelized coating of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. A final drizzle of glaze was all this decadent breakfast treat needed before serving. You will need an oval slow cooker for this recipe. For more information on making a foil collar and a foil sling, see pages 208 and 180, respectively.
Serves 6 to 8
Cooking time: 2 to 4 hours on high
Slow cooker size: 5 to 7 quarts
3¼ cups (16¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
? cup water, room temperature
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1. For the dough Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, water, sugar, and melted butter in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough, seam side down, in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping in step 4.)
3. For the brown sugar coating Line slow cooker with aluminum foil collar, then press 2 double-layered large sheets of foil into slow cooker perpendicular to one another, with extra foil hanging over edges. Lightly coat prepared slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. Combine sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl.
4. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and press into rough 8-inch square. Using pizza cutter or chef's knife, cut dough into 6 even strips. Cut each strip into 6 pieces (36 pieces total). Cover dough pieces loosely with greased plastic.
5. Working with a few pieces of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), dip pieces in melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture to coat. Place coated pieces in prepared slow cooker, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers. Once dough is layered, sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top.
6. Cover and cook until dough is set and registers 190 degrees, 2 to 4 hours on high. (Top of monkey bread will be pale and slightly tacky to touch.) Using foil sling, transfer monkey bread to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
7. For the glaze Whisk sugar and milk in bowl until smooth. Invert monkey bread onto serving dish; discard foil. Drizzle glaze over bread, letting it run down sides. Serve warm.