An easy overnight make ahead monkey bread recipe that uses real ingredients and rises overnight in the fridge to bake fresh in the morning.
Every Christmas morning for almost all the years Brian and I have been married we have had a brunch with a beautiful table and yummy, special foods. The first years we did this we lived in Portland and hosted Brian’s family – and I made lots of recipes and spent WAY too much time on food preparation the night before and cooking in the morning.
Yes, on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I wrote about simplifying our traditional brunch here and how freeing that was for me – and how my family didn’t even notice that we only had one egg dish and one sweet bread. Why did I ever think we needed 2 or 3 of each? Sigh.
Since we have The Best Cinnamon Rolls in The World during our extended family celebration the weekend before Christmas I looked for a different type of sweet bread that we’d all love and look forward to each year (yes, I’m kind of big on traditions). I’ve made cranberry canes, scones, sour cream coffee cakes, single pan sticky buns, and various other sweet breads and we enjoyed them all…but they weren’t the ‘one.’
Until I made sugar-cinnamon monkey bread. Fun, sweet, and special – it’s exactly what we can all agree on as our traditional Christmas morning sweet bread.
But do you know how hard it is to find a recipe for monkey bread that uses real ingredients – no pudding mixes or canned biscuits – and could be made ahead and baked Christmas morning?
Too hard apparently, since I couldn’t find one that fit my needs (which I didn’t think was all that restrictive, actually). I wasn’t going back to the complicated brunches of my memory, though, so I decided to create my own easy make-ahead version, adapting a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that used real ingredients and then experimenting with overnight refrigeration and morning baking.
The monkey bread turned out absolutely perfect and I am so happy to share the recipe with you and save you a bunch of searching!
Overnight Make Ahead Monkey Bread
The bread starts with a simple dough that you mix together, let knead for a few minutes, and then leave to rise for an hour.
After rising, spread the dough out and cut into a bunch of little pieces. The beauty of monkey bread is that the balls don’t need to be uniform in size since they’re all piled atop one another.
My daughter and I like to dip the balls together – one dips in melted butter and the other in the brown-sugar-cinnamon mixture – before we layer them in the well-buttered bundt pan. It’s just another part of the tradition.
Working together we can get all the balls coated in 15-20 minutes. Then simply cover the pan and put it in the refrigerator until the next morning. Sweet and simple!
The monkey bread rises some in the fridge, and rises a bit more when you set it out 45 minutes to an hour before baking to bring it back to room temperature. Glazing the loaf after turning it out onto a platter is optional, but we wouldn’t go without it!
We LOVE this monkey bread so much and everyone who visits us on Christmas day loves it, too – so I’m sure it’s destined to become one of your family’s favorites.
I especially love how it fills the house with wonderful cinnamony goodness while we are relaxing together and enjoying our family time – no stress required!