Light Monkey Bread ~ Larry’s Project

Light Monkey Bread RecipeSniff, sniff. Mmmm! This is Larry’s baking project: Lightened Up Monkey Bread. Gotta love Cooking Light magazine, it doesn’t disappoint. Their column, The Enlightened Cook, publishes “recipe makeovers” that actually, factually work. Friday, the October issue arrived. Sunday, Larry was making their Lightened Up Monkey Bread  from page 160.

For the unaware, Monkey Bread is a pull-apart ring of sugar-cinnamon-coated sweet biscuits. The sugar caramelizes when baked, and there is spicy love in every bite. Lots of home cooks use packaged bread dough to make Monkey Bread which contributes mightily to high sodium and fat. Here, it’s all from scratch.

Monkey bread collage with captions

Speaking of monkeys, Larry and I have a running dialog about them; we blame them for everything. We have around 20 trips to Asian and African countries between us, so we’ve had our fill of havoc-raising monkeys. This one (photo, Kenya) monkeywas NOT a cuddly critter. Larry was on some outing. I was watching animals from our balcony and had put my camera down to use the binoculars when, BAM something hit the roof. Then — in a blink – this guy lands waaaay too close. His eyes go to the camera. Mine go to the camera. He looks at me. I look at him. Good lord, all I needed was a bitch-slap with a monkey, let alone if he got into our room and went ballistic. I moved Ever. So. Slowly. Toward. The. Camera. Got it, then backed up in slo-mo, shot one frame and SLAMMED THE DOOR. Geezus, monkeys.

Now, Monkey Bread, that I love. And love it even more “light!” The article compared nutritionals between Classic and Makeover:

CLASSIC – 556 calories per serving, 960 mg. sodium, 13 g. sat fat

MAKEOVER* – 234 cal, 184 mg. sodium, 2 g. sat fat

*We did not add a final whitewash of frosting, so the nutritionals will be even slightly BETTER than the magazine’s.

The steps for this are relatively simple, tho’ lengthy. You make the dough, then let it rise (clean up your mess). Then make the balls, let ‘em rise (clean up your next mess). Bake. The magazine recipe had an extra frosting drizzle, but per Larry, “It has enough sugar already.” The powdered sugar dusting was for the photo, and then… I could NOT stop eating. It was tender, pulled apart perfectly. PRINT THIS RECIPE OUT, it is a serious “keeper.”

Monkey Bread from Cooking Light Magazine – below is how Larry made it (slight alterations)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast
  • 1 cup very warm fat-free milk (120 to 130 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup very warm orange juice (120 to 130 degrees F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cooking spray


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine flours, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined. With mixer on low, slowly add the warm milk, juice, honey and melted butter. Mix at medium speed 7 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large bowl that has been coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

FOR THE SPICE COATING:  combine granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine milk with melted butter, stirring with a whisk.

Punch dough down; divide into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll into an 8-inch rope. Cut each dough rope into 8 equal pieces; shape each piece into a ball. Dip each ball into milk mixture, turning to coat, and roll in sugar mixture.

Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; layer balls in the pan. Repeat  procedure with remaining 7 dough ropes. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of bread; invert onto plate.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

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