Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread (plus a shortcut version)
A delectable merge of two classics. Soft and feathery cinnamon rolls baked in a bed of caramel sauce in a bundt pan, a la monkey bread style, then drenched with even more caramel as it comes out of the oven. Need I say more?
Disclaimer: No monkeys were hurt in the making of this beautiful monster.
Yes (sigh)…I really had to say this.
Having served this mostly to Egyptians, and a few Canadians, I always felt the need to explain myself first, or face the possibility of it staying untouched.
Ofcourse there are certain people (THEE best) who dive in without letting a name like this hold them back for a second. My kinda people. YOU GUYS ROCK!
I mean…caramel is dripping and cinnamon is wafting…Hello?! Do I really need to justify this?
Apparently yes…even a dessert as tempting as this one still manages to raise some eyebrows just by having a funny name.
But Reeeeeally though? We have an Egyptian dessert called Zeinab’s fingers. Pota-toe Pota-to.
But alas..here I am trying to convince you to eat a warm, soft, cinnamon-y piece of pastry dripping with caramel, just because it has a weird name.
So here goes…
Monkey bread is a sweet and gooey pastry served in the United States for breakfast, usually on special occasions and holidays. Its made by drenching lots of very small balls of dough in butter and cinnamon sugar, then arranging them in a bundt pan with or without caramel sauce and baking them off. The result is one amazing bundt-shaped pastry studded with jewels of caramel glistened pieces of dough. The balls of dough get stuck together and are eaten by pulling the pieces apart with fingers, just like a monkey…no offense. But that’s where the name is said to have originated from. Aaaaaahhhh!
Needless to say, that once people are enlightened with this piece of information…ATTACK, DEVOUR and DEMOLISH are what unfolds after.
So this right here, is what you’ll get if a cinnamon roll and a monkey bread had a baby. Its smothered in caramel and baked in a bundt pan just like a monkey bread, but instead of using little pieces of dough, I use LARGE hunks of cinnamon rolls. Divine…
I first made this recipe during my year-long stay in Canada, using Pillsbury Grands ready-made Cinnamon Rolls but made the caramel sauce from scratch. Truth be told, people went banonza over this and never even noticed that it came from a can. It took me literally 5 minutes to put together and was always a showstopper. I’m a strong proponent of baking from scratch…but let’s be real here…sometimes a shortcut is more than welcomed, especially if it tastes that good.
Being back in Egypt though, meant no more Pillsbury, so I had to get my act together to come up with a from-scratch solution. I tried 5 different doughs before landing on this discovery from Cooking Classy. This dough is uber soft and feathery and puffy, really just everything you need in a cinnamon roll.
Here’s how you do it: (Please note that the detailed recipe in the teal box at the end of the post, will provide further instructions for both the from-scratch and shortcut versions ).
Prepare the dough and let it rise as per the recipe below (not pictured). During that time make the caramel sauce and let it cool. Roll out the risen dough on a lightly floured surface into a 16X12 inch rectangle. Yes please use a ruler. Then you spread some softened butter and sprinkle it with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Using a bench scraper or ruler to help, roll the dough snuggly, pinching the seam to the dough, so the cinnamon mixture doesn’t fall out. Then with the seem side facing down, cut the dough into 12 even pieces.
Pour about 1/3 of the prepared and cooled caramel sauce into a buttered non-stick bundt pan. Arrange five cinnamon rolls on top of the caramel layer, then add another tier of cinnamon rolls using the remaining seven.
Let that rise again until so puffy, you just wanna cuddle it, about one hour. (If using a ready-made dough, then no need for rising) Then pour another 1/3 of that caramel sauce right over it.
Now bake that cinn-ful (ughhh..cheesy pun) pan in a preheated 350F/180C oven until very golden brown about 35-40 minutes.
Let it cool for about 5 minutes in the pan while reheating the remaining caramel sauce. Then flip that thing onto your serving platter. Don’t be like me and use a platter with a rim so you don’t make a huge mess.
I have no words for that…no words…
Pour the remaining caramel sauce on top and watch people drool.
You know what? If you do that in front of them, you’ll skip the step of having people ask you what it’s called, because with a sight like that…who cares?
#Fact: Upon tasting it, several people suggested that I should change its name to “Buns from Heaven,” abort the idea of blogging and open a bakery that only sells this…Yup! It’s that good.
Check it out, check it out! The awesome sisters of Food Dolls from Minnesota have so kindly created a video for this recipe! Eeeeeeeek!!! Thank you girls so much☺️
In the video below, the Food Dolls, have taken the shortcut route and used Cinnabon’s Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls, so there’s no rising time involved.
WARNING: Excessive drooling may result. A box of tissues nearby is strongly recommended.
Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread (plus a short-cut version)
A delectable merge of two classics. Soft and feathery cinnamon rolls baked in a bed of caramel sauce in a bundt pan, a la monkey bread style, then drenched with more as it comes out of the oven.
For the Cinnamon Roll Dough: (or 2 cans Cinnabon's Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls)
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, cold and diced into cubes
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
- 1/4 cup vegetable or neutral tasting oil
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast*
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 large egg. at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups (450g-540g) all purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cups (150g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup (75g) butter, melted
For the Caramel Sauce:
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) packed soft light brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
To make the Cinnamon Rolls:
- In a large liquid measuring cup or medium microwave-safe bowl, combine together the milk and 1/4 cup (57g) diced butter. Microwave until the butter is almost melted, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Stir in the buttermilk and vegetable oil (this should bring the mixture's temperature down to 105-110 degrees which is warm to the touch, if not then allow to cool down slightly).
- Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of an electric mixture and whisk in the yeast. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes, then add the granulated sugar, salt, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Whisk the mixture until well combined.
- Fit the mixer with the hook attachment, then add 3 1/2 cups (420g) of the flour and knead the mixture on low speed until smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough will be very sticky at that point. Don't worry.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place* about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce (recipe below) and set aside to cool.
- Then in a small bowl, prepare the filling by combining together the 3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar and cinnamon, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- In another small bowl, combine together 1/4 cup (30g) flour, cornstarch and baking powder.
- When the dough has risen, pour the cornstarch mixture on it, return the bowl to the mixer and knead until well combined. The dough should be tacky, slightly sticky, smooth and elastic. It should stick only to the bottom of the bowl while kneading but not the sides. If this is not the case, then add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve this. I added 12 more tablespoons but it differs from one environment to the other.*
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured working surface and using a rolling pin roll out to a 16X12 inch rectangle.
- Using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula, spread 1/3 cup (75g) melted butter all over the dough's surface.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter, leaving a 1/2 inch on the farthest end to you (the long side) bare.
- Starting with the 16inch side, that is closest to you, roll the dough up snugly to the opposite side, pinching the bare end with the dough to seal the mixture in.
- Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces, first by cutting the roll in half, then cutting each half in half, then each quarter in thirds.
- Pour 1/3 of the caramel sauce (about 1 cup) in a buttered bundt pan, then arrange 5 cinnamon rolls on it. Add another tier of rolls on top of then using the remaining 7 cinnamon rolls.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place* and until doubled in size, looks so puffy and the rolls stick to each other (about 1 hour).
- During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Uncover the pan, pour another third of the caramel sauce (about 1 cup) all over the cinnamon rolls, and bake until the rolls are a deep golden brown, about 35-40 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 180F.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let rest 5 minutes, then turn onto a rimmed serving platter. Pour the remaining caramel sauce on top and serve warm.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for about two days, then reheat individual servings in the microwave until warm.
To make the Caramel Sauce:
- In a saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar, cream and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or heatproof rubber spatula.
- Bring to boil and simmer for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and let cool before pouring under and over the cinnamon rolls.
For the Short-Cut Version:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Prepare caramel sauce (recipe above) and pour 1/3 of it into the bottom of a buttered non-stick bundt pan.
- Pop open the cinnamon roll cans and arrange them in two layers. Five at the bottom and five on top.
- Pour the other third on the caramel sauce on top of the the cinnamon rolls.
- Bake until deep golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile reheat the remaining caramel sauce.
- Turn onto a rimmed serving platter, pouring the remaining caramel. Serve warm.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for about two days and reheat individual servings in the microwave until warm.
- The Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread could be prepared in advance, up to 16 hours in advance. Just follow directions until step 16, then cover tightly and refrigerate. Take it out of the fridge two hours before baking and let rise like in step 17. Proceed with the recipe.
- I used Pakmaya instant dry yeast for these rolls, but Venoise is another favorite of mine.
- The amount of flour varies depending on many factors including humidity and altitude. So if its very sticky slowly add flour more, if needed, until the dough is slightly sticky or tacky. It should stick to a clean finger then pull away without leaving dough behind. It shouldn't be dry either or the rolls will turn out tough.
- To create a warm environment for rising, turn the oven to 200F/93C before working on the dough, then turn off the oven after about 10 minutes. You could now use it as your warm place to rise your dough in. If the oven feels too hot, leave the oven slightly ajar. Works like a charm:)
- You can most definitely make the dough completely by hand. You'll just get a little arm workout, which means you're allowed to eat more rolls:)
Cinnamon Roll dough heavily adapted from Cooking Classy
Caramel Sauce heavily adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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I’ve always been intimidated by making monkey bread, but your recipe and instructions look and sound so simple and straightforward. This is definitely a recipe I am no inspired to make!
I actually find this easier than making classic monkey bread, because you skip the step of cutting the dough into gazillion pieces as well as the mess that comes with buttering and covering them in sugar. Its definitely a family favorite and I really hope you give it a try some day.
wow.. with clear instructions makes me to try it soon..:)
Yes, I hope you do! You won’t regret it one bit:)
Wow, this looks and sounds SO AMAZING!!!
Thank you so much. It’s definitely one of our favorite things ever!
That delicious cake , I will try to prepare. Excellent photographs.Greetings from Uruguay
A BIG warm thank you all the way from Egypt to beautiful Uruguay!
this looks soo delicious!
Thank you so much for your sweet comment:)
The kitchen and I dont get along so well. But the way you explain the recipe in details and the amazing photos just makes me want to become friends again with my kitchen:)
Oh please do yourself a favor and give the kitchen another chance. Could just become your best friend:) Thanks for your sweet comment.
Caramel was a lot lighter in colour than yours 🙁
It might be due to different brands of light brown sugar; I use Dominos. You shouldn’t worry about it if it still tastes good. It should taste like melted toffee. I hope you enjoyed that whole thing though.
I really dont know where to start. Amazingly good. I cant believe how good it is. Turned out great my dear, cant wait to try all the other recipes :*
Shams you’re the first one to report back trying this!!! That’s so exciting for me! I’m always so curious to know how recipes are working out. Soooooo glad you liked it. It’s really one of my favorites.
I’m so excited to give it a shot,but can i make the dough a day before? 🙂
Sure! You can prepare the recipe up until step 15, then cover the pan but instead of letting it rise, refrigerate overnight or up to 16 hours. Then take it out of the fridge 2 hours before you plan to bake it to give it its second rise. If your house is cold and its not rising well, use the trick of the warm oven (mentioned in the NOTES) to help it rise faster. Just make sure you use ‘instant’ yeast and not ‘active’ yeast. Bake as directed.
I DIIIIIIIDDDDD ITTTTTTTTTTT………
I have a long story to tell. I used to suffer from something called “dough phobia”: I freaked out when I saw a recipe that included any dough making; I always felt it was difficult and that I will fail. This recipe was my gateway to the “dough world” 🙂 It was a success :))
Wanted to share with you some notes / questions:
1. A lot of those who tasted it, for some reason, felt a strong taste of “dates”! I don’t know why !
2. When this is served really hot, I think a vanilla Ice – Cream along would be a tasty addition + may reduce the sweetness of the caramel
3. Can this exact recipe work as a chocolate recipe?? Filling to be sweetened cocoa (I prefer Cadbury), and substituting the caramel sauce with chocolate sauce, or even white chocolate sauce (my husband adores white chocolate & I try to include them in any recipe 🙂
4. After cutting the rolled dough into 12 rolls, can i just put them in baking tray and serve them as a single serve cinnabons?
Sorry for the very long comment, but really thank you, everybody thinks I am super clever, though I owe it all to you xoxoxoxo
Hoda!!! So happy you’ve finally conquered your fear of yeast. I used to dreaded by them too, until I discovered that I was using a horrible brand of yeast & also that trick of rising the dough in a warm oven has changed my life. Also instant yeast is my new best friend.
Hahaa It’s so weird that they’ve tasted dates. Did u use dominos brand for the brown sugar?
Also…ice cream is never a bad idea! I like the way you think:))
You sure can turn into chocolate! Consider this your master sweet dough recipe & play around with it to your heart’s content. I would substitute unsweetened cocoa powder for the cinnamon not sweetened because there’s already a lot of sugar in the filling. Bake it in a baking dish (Pyrex style) like you said but without any sauce underneath or around as chocolate sauce has the tendency to burn in the oven. Then as soon as it comes out of the oven, spread chocolate sauce & white chocolate sauce if you like. You could also make it just like Cinnabon with a cream cheese frosting on top. Enjoy to the max & please let me know how your experimentation go:)
Hello there Tasbih,
I wanted to tell you that your website has encouraged me to start baking and i’ve tried all the recipes on your website and all of them turned out perfectly! I’m so excited to try that one out but I was wondering about one thing I read;why dont we add the cornstarch and baking powder right before we leave it to rise,would it make any difference?
Hi Menna! I couldn’t be happier to hear that this little blog has helped you to get baking. I’m even more excited to know that you’ve been having great results. This right here my friend, is enough reason to keep me going.
Concerning the timing of adding the cornstarch & baking powder, I’m actually not sure why. Lol! The dough recipe is adapted from the amazing Jackyln of http://www.cookingclassy.com. While she explains the benefits of using both ingredients, she doesn’t clarify why they are added after the first rise. It was a new technique for me as well, and I usually like to know the whys & hows of everything too, but as long as it works then I’m just embracing it?
tried this recipe more than once and it always turns out amazingly!!! can’t go wrong with this one.
So happy you loved it Amenah! It’s one of my favorites too ?
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I hope you’re feeling a lot better ♥️. I’m quite new to your blog, but I absolutely adore it! I’ve tried a few recipes, and they all turn out delicious, so thank you so much for that. I really want to make this one, I just have a question – what size should the Bundt pan be? I have one but I’m afraid it’s too small. Anyhow, thanks again for all the wonderful recipes! Much love ♥️
Hi Dulce! You’re the sweetest…thank you so much for all your kind ones. I’m feeling so much better now ?
The Bundt pan I used is a 10-cup capacity. Enjoy ?
I forgot to ask in my last comment – I live in Mexico, and they don’t sell buttermilk here, so I was wondering if you have any good substitutes? I’ve read you can substitute buttermilk with milk + lemon/vinegar, but I’d love to hear what you’d recommend. Thank you! Much love ?
Yes! The buttermilk substitute would work well here. Much love ?
Hi, Tasbih! It’s me again haha. I’m sorry for so many questions! I’m planning on making this yummyness tomorrow for my in-laws, but I’m in Denmark at the moment, and I can only find active dry yeast. Could you maybe tell me how to incorporate it to the recipe? I know it has to be activated in warm liquid, but I was wondering if I should just add a cup of warm milk with the activated yeast to the recipe, or how should I go about it?
Thank you very very much. Your blog has helped tremendously in keeping me sane during this strange times. I hope you’re doing better and feeling good. Lots of love ♥️
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dear, I want to ask about the difference between the difference between this dough and the cinnamon rolls dough, as I tried the cinnamon rolls and it was perfect ,could it be replaced?
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