Into every Disney snack-lovin’ life a little rain must fall, and this week’s snack was its own little shower right in my very own kitchen.
It’s bound to happen from time to time, right? Not every recipe can hit it out of the park on the first attempt, and it’s honestly been a while since a Saturday Snacks recipe went awry, so I guess I was due. More on that in just a bit.
Monkey bread has long been a special treat in our family. I think I had it at a friend’s house one time a hundred and ten years ago and, as I sampled the sweet, caramelized goodness for the first time, I inquired as to how to make such magic. Little did I know that it only took four cans of refrigerated biscuits and a bit of cinnamon, sugar and butter. Could something so amazing come from ingredients so few and so simple? The answer was a resounding yes. Monkey bread became the breakfast time treat for all occasions: birthdays, Saturdays, and anytime we wanted a little something special. So, when I discovered that the new Disney Villains Devilishly Delicious Cookbook included a variation on our special family treat, I knew that I had to give it a go.
There are two things that make this recipe stand out from the one I’ve used for years: the use of two bananas, and making the dough from scratch. The Disney version of the recipe doesn’t call for you and I to head straight for that biscuit shelf in the refrigerated aisle of the grocery store, it calls for us to throw a handful of cups of flour together and it also requires a packet of fast-rising yeast. Insert ominous background music here…
I explained in last week’s Saturday Snacks recipe (Kronk’s Challah Bread) that I’m always somewhat wary when it comes to creating a recipe using yeast. Yeast can be a fickle friend, and one misstep can send the whole thing spiraling. Friends, this is the predicament in which I found myself earlier this week. I had one packet of fast-rising instant yeast left in my pantry. Little did I know I’d be running back to the store later that evening for more.
The recipe asks that we bring a cup and a half of milk to a simmer (but not a boil) in a small saucepan. Once the milk reaches a simmer, we are to remove it from the heat, whisk in the envelope of yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar, and cover it to allow the yeast to activate/proof/bloom/do its thing. The whole proofing process should take about 10 minutes.
The recipe now asks us to pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and to mix in by hand 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a teaspoon and a half of salt.
Once those ingredients are completely combined, we can put a dough hook onto our stand mixer and begin mixing at slow speed. While the mixer is running, you and I get to add 5 cups of flour. Yes, you read that right: five entire cups of flour. Make sure to grab a fresh bag at the store if you’re thinking that your supply may be running low.
I will now hit the fast-forward button and tell you that I followed all of the next steps. We’ll detail each step as we go on, but please know that the monkey bread train had left the track at this point, and I had no clue. Sigh.
When the required 2 minutes of kneading the dough was up, the dough wasn’t looking quite right. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but it looked a little limp. Not that the dough is supposed to necessarily look a certain way, but it just didn’t look quite right. Nevertheless, I persisted. I put the dough into an oiled bowl and covered the bowl so that the dough could rise. I covered it with one of my Ratatouille kitchen towels and stuck it in a warm spot on my kitchen counter.
About an hour into the whole rising process, I peeked at the dough. Guess what was happening? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It looked the same as when I put it in the bowl, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Nonetheless, I continued to persist. I thought that perhaps something miraculous was going to happen in the next hour and it would all of a sudden begin rising, so I walked away from my kitchen in order to not drive myself crazy worrying about this bowl of what turned out to be unleavened dough.
Ten minutes before my timer was to ring, I went back to the dough, saw it sitting there looking exactly the same, and declared it a loss. The dough had done absolutely nothing, and I threw it into the trash in disgust. You win some, you lose some. Rats.
Fast forward 2 days, and I was ready to give it a try again. I had the feeling in the dark recesses of my mind that the issue was in the simmering of the milk that the recipe asks us to do. The fine print on the back of the yeast packet says that we must ensure that any liquids that we use to proof the yeast is between 120 and 130 degrees. And the simmering? Ummm, yeah. It causes the milk to become much hotter than that. And I didn’t even let it simmer as much as I could have.
Armed with this suspicion, I politely declined to allow the milk to simmer. I poured a cup and a half of milk into my small saucepan, grabbed my kitchen thermometer, and watched that milk LIKE A HAWK. I wasn’t about to let the milk get too hot this time. In fact, once the milk got to between 120 and 130, I pulled it off of the heat and transferred the milk into a small bowl. You might remember that the recipes asks for us to leave the milk in the hot saucepan and cover it after stirring in the yeast and sugar. NO RECIPE, YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF US. Thank you.
After letting the yeast proof for 10 minutes in the glass bowl with the saucepan lid on it, the yeast bloomed like yeast should. Woot woot! We did it!
I poured the yeast mixture into the bowl of my stand mixer and added in 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir everything by hand until it’s fully combined.
If you have a dough hook attachment for your stand mixer, go ahead and pop it onto your mixer. It’s now time to add the five cups of flour, just a bit at a time. If you have a pouring shield for your mixing bowl, this is its time to shine; pull it out of your cabinet and let it save you a ton of clean-up time. I added the flour one cup at a time, and before I added more, I made sure that the first amount had been worked into the dough.
Once the flour has been incorporated, turn the mixer speed to medium and allow the dough to begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once the dough gets to that stage (and mine was there pretty much right away), keep that mixer running for an additional 2 minutes in order to get it nice and kneaded. I also stopped the mixer and lifted the arm to allow the dough to fall down into the bowl a few times. I felt that doing so allowed the dough to be more fully kneaded.
After the 2 minutes are up, it’s time to place our dough into a large bowl that’s been given a good coating of spray oil. And, as you might guess, it’s also time to drum up a second dose of pixie-dusted patience. We need to cover that bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours. And hope that the dough does what it’s supposed to this time.
Thankfully, after 2 hours, my dough did just what it should: it rose to double its size.
We’re now asked to punch the dough down and deflate it; do just what you think its sounds like and give that dough a right hook.
Next, allow the dough to drop out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 1-inch chunks. This isn’t a place to stress, just grab a pastry cutter or a butter knife and get that dough chopped into 1-inch-ish pieces.
Once you have the dough ready to go, preheat the oven to 350°F and toss 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon into a bowl and give them a swish with a whisk to combine. Grab your bundt pan out of the back of your cabinet (I’m just assuming it’s in the back; I mean, how often do we use those things?) and coat it with a layer of spray oil.
A few at a time, roll your dough chunks into the cinnamon-sugar and place them in a layer in the bundt pan.
If you enjoy bananas, slice the 2 bananas and add a layer of them on top of the first layer of dough. Keep rolling and building alternating layers of dough and bananas from there.
Top the whole thing off with a layer of dough.
So, the leftover cinnamon-sugar? You now get to pour ALL OF THAT over the top of the dough. And the icing on the cake? Melt 2 sticks of butter in the microwave and pour the melted butter over the whole shebang. Yes, friends, this is gonna be gooooood.
Place your bundt pan into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. And prepare to savor every morsel.
While I enjoy bananas, the bananas that were pulled for my Target order were on the larger side, so I ended up using only 1 of them for the recipe. You do you. Go bananas. Or don’t. 😉
After 40 minutes, the most glorious, puffy, cinnamon-covered masterpiece emerged from the oven. Monkey bread à la Disney. Holy cannoli. We’re to place a plate over the top of the bundt pan and flip the dish, allowing the monkey bread to rest (still inside the pan) for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes are up, lift the pan off of the bread and behold the beauty that sits on your plate.
The recipe asks that we allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes, but I won’t judge you if you don’t quite meet that goal.
This snack is toasty and caramelized on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside. And it is delicious.
Disney’s version of this time-honored treat, while taking longer to make than the ready-made biscuit variety, is worth it. Pull up a chair, pull this sweet snack apart, and gobble it up.
The bananas added a surprising pop of flavor and change in texture, and are definitely something to incorporate if you like them.
While the first go-round with the dough was incredibly frustrating, I’m so glad that, with a few recipe tweaks, the yeast did what it needed to and created a lovely, puffy dough. It’s tough when you come up against a recipe that clearly needs to be changed up a bit, but I’m glad that you and I always get to figure these things out together.
Please let me know if you decide to give the monkey bread a try. I highly, highly recommend it!
May your weekend be filled with laughter, surprises, and, if you decide to give the Disney Villains Devilishly Delicious Cookbook’s Monkey Bread a try, dough that rises. Thank you so very much for reading!
Here’s your turn! The recipe for Monkey’s Uncle Monkey Bread is below:
Monkey’s Uncle Monkey Bread
Prep time: 2 1/2 hours | Cook time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 servings
Scar is less than enthusiastic at the prospect that his nephew Simba will one day become the king of Pride Rock. When somebody asks Scar what his uncle will be once the young cub is finally king, Scar replies, “a monkey’s uncle.” Filled with jealousy, the vengeful lion begins to plot his brother’s downfall in order to become the ruler of Pride Rock.
For the Dough
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 package fast rising yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups flour
- Nonstick cooking spray
For the Monkey Bread
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 1 cup (two sticks) melted butter
- Nonstick cooking spray
Prepare the dough. And a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Do not boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the yeast and sugar. Cover the saucepan and let stand for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, then mix in the eggs, vanilla, and salt by hand. Mix on low setting and gradually add the flour, working slowly so all ingredients combine well. Turn the speed to medium and mix the dough until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Mix two minutes more to need the dough.
Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray; cover, and let rise for two hours until doubled in size. Punch dough down, then turn it out onto a work surface and slice into 1 inch chunks. (If using pre-made dough, start here.)
Prepare the monkey bread. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Spray a Bundt pan liberally with cooking spray. Roll each piece of the dough in the cinnamon sugar, then add to the pan, layering along with the banana slices, and ending with a layer of the pieces.
Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over dough, then drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven. Place a plate over the top of the monkey bread, then flip onto the plate. Let stand three minutes, then remove the Bundt pan. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.
Nutritious tip: this healthier version of monkey bread has bananas in the mix and uses fresh, unprocessed dough. (If you are using store-bought dough, by four standard size canisters of biscuit dough.) And enjoy it with your monkeys-er, your family.