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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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk November 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Sure, Alice. If you are familiar with bread making with your hands, you should be fine.

2 Alice K. November 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Is it possible to make this without having a stand mixer w a dough hook?

3 Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious October 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Oh my gawd.
I need this.

4 June M September 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm

That is so funny about your monkey adventure! I had a pet squirrel monkey (Mr. Chips), as a kid, and he was so wild, but he was cute as long as you didn’t try to pet him; he would bite. Not a lovable sort, that’s for sure.

I love cinnamon rolls and I love monkey bread! I am so sure looking at the ingredients that this is one of those that I could easily eat lots of!!

Thank you so much for sharing.

5 LiztheChef September 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Most impressive! Larry inspires me to try monkeybread-making…

6 Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen September 26, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Yes, monkey bread IS sexy!! Haha. I’ve been drooling over these pics ever since you posted them on Facebook. Nice to know there’s a lighter version of monkey bread that is worth trying!

7 Curt September 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

Very nice. A healthier version of monkey bread!

8 Preethi September 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Looks delicious, maybe you could go lighter still, add some splenda and those type 1 diabetics will be delighted!!

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