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Whole Wheat Monkey Bread

Monkey bread – I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it sure is tasty!  I’ve known about Monkey bread for a long time – mostly from friends who make it with a can of biscuit dough, but being a “from scratch” type of girl, I never made it.  Once you’re from scratch – it’s hard to go back.  I also knew there had to be a way to make the gooey, cinnamon roll-like bread, healthier – in comes Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour to the rescue!  I made the dough for this bread with a full cup of whole wheat flour as well as some Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour to round things out.   Don’t worry – butter and sugar are still a part of this monkey bread.  My kids have even asked when we’re making it again, so the homemade, whole grain version passed the little people test in my house.  That’s reason enough to give this recipe a try.  Who needs a can of biscuits?  Not us – let’s get baking!

To begin, mix the dry ingredients, Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour, Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour and Hodgson Mill Fast Rise Yeast and a teaspoon of salt, in your dough making method of choice – mine being a bread machine.

Next gather up the liquid ingredients, milk, orange juice and honey.  The milk and orange juice should be bathwater warm, so give them a quick trip through the microwave.  Also, picture two tablespoons of melted butter in this photo.  I forgot to get it in the picture, but remembered to get it into the dough.  That’s all that matters, right?

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients in the bread machine and turn it on to run through the dough cycle; an hour-and-a-half on my machine.

When the dough is ready – call the kiddos and have them wash up and get ready to make some monkey bread!  This is a great recipe to involve children with because it’s easy and fun.  To be honest, my six-year-old wasn’t so sure she wanted to be involved (she knows better than to eat a monkey), but when she saw the cinnamon sugar – she decided she was game – monkey or not.  So, mix together the brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and then divide it among several small bowls so that each child has a place to roll her dough.  Also, mix together the milk and melted butter in a large shallow dish- I used a pie plate.

Separate the dough into eight logs about 8 inches long.

Cut each log into eight pieces, about 1 inch each.  Roll each piece into a ball.

Now for the fun part! Roll each ball in the milk/butter mixture and then roll the wet dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  My husband even got involved, helping my two-year-old get into the action – he’s such a good guy.   Layer the balls in a Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.  If you have any leftover cinnamon sugar, sprinkle about two tablespoons on top of the dough when you are finished layering.

At this point, you can cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm spot in your kitchen for about an hour or until it has almost doubled in size and then bake in a 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Or you can cover the dough and put it in your refrigerator and it will rise overnight.  In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes and then bake as you would have above.  Either way works great – I chose the latter.

When the monkey bread is baked, let it cool for 5 minutes, put a plate on top of the Bundt pan and then flip the pan over – unmolding the bread onto the plate.  Mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the top of the warm monkey bread.  Breakfast is ready!

Not only is this fun to make, but it’s fun to eat, too.  Plucking off bits of warm, gooey, cinnamon roll-like pieces of bread covered with a sweet cream cheese icing delights my children to no end – and many grown-ups, too.  Give this homemade, healthier version of Whole Wheat Monkey Bread a try this weekend.  You’ll be happy you did.  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Monkey Bread



  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter


  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½  Tbsp. milk


Combine dry ingredients in bread machine pan or other dough-making method.  Add milk, juice, honey and butter.  Run dough cycle or proceed by mixing and kneading until a smooth and elastic dough is formed.  Cover the dough and allow to rise in a warm place.  Once dough cycle is complete and/or the dough has doubled in size, punch dough down and divide into eight pieces on a pastry mat or lightly floured surface.  Roll each piece into a rope about 8 inches long.  Cut each rope into eight, 1 inch pieces.  Mix together the sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Mix together the milk and melted butter in a large, shallow dish.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball and dip into the milk/butter mixture and then roll in the sugar mixture.  Layer the balls in a Bundt pan that has been coated with cooking spray.  If any sugar remains, sprinkle two tablespoons on top of the layered dough.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour or until almost doubled in size.  Bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for five minutes, place a plate on top of Bundt pan and flip over to unmold bread.

**Alternative ** cover dough and put the Bundt pan in the refrigerator to rise overnight.  Take pan out of the refrigerator in the morning and allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Bake as suggested above.  **

Put cream cheese in a small bowl and microwave for a few seconds to soften.  Take the bowl out of the microwave and add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Drizzle icing over warm monkey bread.

Adapted slightly from Cooking Light         

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Author: Holly

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Avatar  MReddy 5 years ago

Great idea to do it with whole wheat! Thanks, Holly! This would have been a much healthier option for my kids at the youth center. Here's what I used to tell them, when we'd make it in class, about the history of monkey bread: "Monkey bread. A sweet yeast bread, sometimes mixed with currants, formed from balls of dough, laid next to one another, which combine during baking. The origin of the name is unknown, though it has been suggested that the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), whose prickly branches make it difficult to climb. There is also a fruit called "monkey bread," from the baobab tree...of Africa, but there is not evidence of any connection between it and baked bread. It is probably that the name comes from the appearance of the baked itself, which resembles a bunch on monkeys jumbled together."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani 1999 (p. 208)
There's also some other good extended pioneer history on it here: http://boards.epicurious.com/thread.jspa?threadID=266864

Avatar  Tom Tipton (@ttipton1) 5 years ago

Am thinking this is easy enough that EVEN I COULD MAKE it for Mother's Day for my wife. Will advise, looks yummy Holly.

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