Monkey bread is a favorite amongst almost everyone, isn’t it? The sweet, delicate cake smothered in butter and cinnamon sugar is so much fun to pull apart and eat; it makes for a special breakfast, a quick afternoon snack, or a tasty dessert. The only problem is that the bread starts to look kind of ugly and sad after it’s been picked at by people all day. That’s why I decided I would prefer to make a portable version that is easy to hand out individually to each eager lover of the magical bread. You see, I wanted to bring some delicious monkey bread into work, but I didn’t think that anyone would be too keen on touching everyone else’s food with their hands. These mini-muffins are the perfect solution for that! While it might have taken me a while to pinch off 44 separate pieces of dough and then roll them into 3 more smaller balls, it was 100% worth it! You can make these into regular sized muffins, too, but I figured they were more adorable as mini-muffins, as well as being the perfect snack size for the office. Who can resist gooey, buttery, cinnamony goodness drizzled with vanilla icing? Nobody, that’s who. These little wonders had disappeared off the kitchen counter in a couple of hours, and I was happy to see them go. There’s no better feeling in the world than knowing people enjoyed the treats that you made with your own two hands!
Well, almost with your own two hands. If you’re like me, you hate kneading dough. I hate it mostly because it’s messy; flour gets everywhere, my counter gets all sticky from mounds of dough, and it’s a lot of work! If you enjoy kneading dough, you’re a saint. I’ve done it a few times and it’s never been something that I really liked. That’s why I was overcome with joy when I found that I could make the dough for this monkey bread in the bread machine! The dough was absolutely perfect and I was able to go about my day instead of worrying about the dough. I’ve included instructions for kneading the dough by hand, but if you have a bread maker, I suggest trying this out. You’ll want to make these monkey bread muffins over and over again! They’re also perfect for your July 4th parties; they’re an easily transported, perfect little bite that everyone can enjoy without making a big mess!
Add your wet ingredients to the bread machine first (the water, egg, and butter). Alternatively, if you’re doing this by hand, you’ll start with the dry ingredients (the bread flour, white sugar, salt, and yeast).
Top the wet ingredients with the dry ones (the bread flour, then the sugar, then the salt, then the yeast – you want to make sure that the yeast stays dry). Start the bread machine on the dough cycle and hang out for an hour and a half. If you are doing this by hand, add in the water, egg, and butter, and mix together for about a minute, scraping down the sides of your bowl, until just combined. Add in more bread flour if necessary so the dough will release from your hands.
On a floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes or so, then place in a buttered bowl and cover with a cloth, place in a warm place, and allow to rise for an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Alternatively, if you are using a bread machine, simply punch it down and remove it from the bread machine. Either way, the dough is ready to go when you press your finger down into it and your imprint stays for a minute or so.
I made mini-muffins, so I had enough dough for about 44 of them. I pinched off 44 small balls (about the size of a ping-pong ball), then divided those balls into 3 more small balls (about the size of dimes). I dipped each smaller ball into the butter, then the sugar, and pushed them into the greased muffin tins. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect – they will soon! Cover and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
- 2¾ cups bread flour (plus more for kneading)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¾ cup very warm water (I just turned my faucet to its hottest setting, I didn’t microwave the water or anything)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2-4 teaspoons whole milk
- Place the dough ingredients into your bread machine pan, starting with the wet ingredients (the egg, butter, and water). Next add in the bread flour, then the sugar, then the salt, and then make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the yeast, being sure that it doesn’t touch any moisture. Set your bread machine for the dough cycle and continue with your day for an hour and a half or so.
- Alternatively, you can make this dough by hand. In a large bowl, mix together 1½ cups of the bread flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, the salt and yeast. Add in the warm water, unsalted butter and the egg. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently as needed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle and not too sticky (you may not need all of the flour, but I did when I used my bread machine).
- On lightly floured surface, knead the dough about 5 minutes or until it is smooth and springy. Grease a medium bowl with butter and place dough in the bowl, turning the dough to grease all its sides. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. The dough is ready to go if you press into it with your finger and the indentation stays for a minute or so.
- Grease 44 mini-muffin cups (or 12-15 regular muffin cups) with butter or non-stick spray (I used non-stick spray). In small bowl, mix the 1½ cups granulated sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Punch down the down if needed. Divide the dough into 44 equal ping-pong ball sized pieces for mini-muffins (a lot of work, but worth it) or 12 equal pieces for regular sized muffins. Pinch each piece into 3 small dime-sized balls for mini-muffins or 6 smaller balls for regular muffins.
- Dip the smaller balls into the butter, then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the corresponding balls (3 dime-sized and cinnamon-sugar coated balls for the mini-muffins, for example) into greased muffin tins side-by-side. Do this until you’ve used up all of your dough.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes for mini-muffins or 20-24 minutes for regular sized muffins. Allow to cool completely before icing and/or removing. If you take them out before they’ve cooled, they will most likely fall apart.
- Combine your icing ingredients and drizzle over the muffins (you want the icing to be thin enough to drizzle, but still thick enough that it will stick to your spoon for a bit before falling off). Allow the icing to harden, then jimmy the muffins out with a butter knife or pop them out if they are less temperamental than mine were. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for 24 hours, then store in an air-tight container in the fridge for another day or two.