In our house growing up, there were two Christmas food traditions that stand out: we always went to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve at our church and picked up 20 lbs of Chinese food on the way home, and we always had monkey bread on Christmas morning. Even as a child, I can remember swirling around the frozen rolls in the melted butter and tossing them in the cinnamon sugar. I suspect, now that I’m a mom, that my mom figured out early that cooking on Christmas morning was not very fun, and took her out of the action, so she came up with this hack to serve a beautiful pull-apart breakfast with minimal effort.
I’ve always loved the glossy brown finish on a Monkey Bread, it reminds me of Tarte Tatin, one of my favorite French desserts. This recipe is simple and easy, and can be made sometime the day before you want to serve it. Little hands can cut the biscuits, shake them in the bag with the cinnamon sugar, and put them in the pan. It serves a crowd in pull apart style and reheats moderately well (ask my husband, this is his favorite.) I love this monkey bread for any brunch, mostly because it can be served elegantly on a cake stand and it can be made the night before and doesn’t require a knife to serve.
In past years, I’ve been adding a savory casserole to the mix because I’m not a big sweets in the morning fan. In Huntsville, the year we got married, I made toad-in-the-hole with local bangers and a yorkshire-pudding like dough and we celebrated with our British neighbor. Last year, it was a hash brown and sausage number that both the kids wouldn’t touch. For many years we have had my Aunt Karen’s famous Sausage-Spinach pies which makes two pies; I love to freeze one for New Years Day. I like the complement of something savory, and we usually end up eating on both for several days which makes the mornings easier.
Whatever the occasion or your family traditions, I hope you’ll add this to your spread sometime this year.
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cans of refrigerated biscuit dough; I use Pillsbury; not the flaky layers kind; you can use any kind of dough if you want – frozen rolls or even pizza dough, but biscuits work best if you can find them
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, if desired
1/2 cup of raisins, if desired
1 cup brown sugar
8 oz unsalted butter, melted
Heat oven to 350 unless you’re making the night before.
Generously butter (using a paper towel to spread) a fluted bundt pan – don’t skimp on this step or your Monkey Bread won’t come out at the end and look gorgeous on your plate. Mix your sugar and cinnamon in a gallon ziplock bag.
Cut each biscuit in quarters. Add them to the bag and shake them around to coat. Layer them into your prepared pan, sprinkling nuts and raisins on each layer, if using (I do not). Mix your melted butter and brown sugar. Pour over the top of your prepared pan.
If you’re making in advance, stop, cover the pan and put in the refrigerator overnight. Take it out of the fridge when you wake up – a post-it on the coffee maker always helps me remember.
Bake for 25-30 min until lightly browned at the edges and turning golden brown. Place on cooling rack for 5 minutes before inverting onto your cake stand. Serve warm.