Monkey bread is literally one of my favourite things in the world. I have no idea where the factual underpinnings of the name come from but my own interpretation is that it looks so intricate that it could ‘puzzle a monkey’, despite being deceptively simple to make. This believe may stem solely from my mother and her description of the beautiful (yet prickly) tree that used to grow in the garden of my old hours, but I intuitively apply it to this type of bake. The loaf is made of tiny dough balls, flavoured with garlic, dipped in butter and rolled through herbs and parmesan, before being baked as one solid mass. Delicious and great for any tear and share occasion.
400g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
7g fast-action yeast (1 1/2 teaspoon-ish)
60ml olive oil
200ml warm water
6 cloves of garlic
1 handful of finely chopped parsley
1 handful of finely chopped coriander
~ 20g butter
- As ever, start by making the dough. Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the salt to one side and the instant yeast granules to the other. Make a well in the middle and add the olive oil and luke warm water. With your hand, slowly bring together into a dough.
- Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10-12 minutes until elastic and smooth. If you are lucky enough to have a stand mixer, the knead time should be more like 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for 9o minutes (more like 2 hours in this cold weather) or until the dough is double in size. You will know the dough is well proved as it should spring back from a light poke with a finger.
- Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the flavour for the loaf. Peel and roast the cloves at 180•C in a slight drizzling of olive oil for 20 minutes. Once the garlic cloves are soft, mash until a fine paste.
- Grease and line a loaf tin ready for your dough.
- Chop a handful of parsley and a handful of coriander very finely, place in a bowl and put to one side. Finely grate the parmesan and but this in a separate bowl. Last but not least, just before the dough is ready to finish it’s first prove, melt some butter.
- Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface for a second time and flatten out with your hands. Spread the garlic paste over the surface of the dough and knead gently until it is incorporated.
- Rip of chunks of the dough and roll between your hands to make dough balls, a little bit smaller than a snooker ball.
- Take each dough ball and lightly coat it with the melted butter. Next roll it in the parmesan, before rolling it in the chopped herbs. The dough balls should be generously coated in all 3 ingredients.
- Place each dough ball in the tin in a haphazard fashion. Dust any remaining parmesan over the top.
- Cover and leave to prove for a further hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200•C. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown.