What is it about us that makes us love sugary, carby treats? Oh come on now, I know it's not just me. I could go deep and say that it satisfies something lacking within our souls, or I could just own up to the fact that bread is delicious, especially when paired with its friends brie and butter.
When monkey bread first came onto the scene, it was hardly the luscious dessert-like dish you see above. No, it was light, fluffy, and generally free from sugar and cinnamon, much less caramel.
Why is it called monkey bread? Lore would lead you to believe that the preparation--piling dough balls together--makes the treat look like a barrel of monkeys. I'd rather go with the notion that your guests will stand around it and pick it until the platter is completely clean.
While monkey bread got its start long before, it came to popularity in the 1940s thanks to the actress ZaSu Pitts, who thrust it to fame in her cookbook. A love of monkey bread development momentum until the 1980s, when the Reagans (yes, those Reagans) owned up to their love of serving the special treat at holidays. According to legend, Nancy had monkey bread made for her husband night before his appearance before the Iran-Contra Congressional committee. Word has it that he had one taste and said, “Mommy, I may go to prison, but I’ll always remember this monkey bread.”
If that isn't love, I don't know what is.
Somewhere along the line, home cooks learned that the classic yeasty side could be sassed up with cinnamon and sugar, and God bless them for it. Now this treat can go from the breakfast table to high tea to dessert and beyond.
What recipes do you want to learn about? Come back each Thursday as we revisit the classics in our recipe collection!