Monkeying around with my bread

Ever since I started baking bread, I’ve wanted a monkey bread pan. There was this gorgeous brown ceramic pan at a luxury kitchenware store. It was $24.95. That’s not a lot of money, but I didn’t want it that bad. Why? I had never eaten monkey bread and I wasn’t sure I would like it. I couldn’t see paying a lot of money for a pan that could easily end up taking up space and collecting dust. But every time I saw that pan, I had an irrational lust for it. That lust became especially painful now that I have been pinching my pennies so hard. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into that luxury kitchenware store to kill time. They were having a huge sale and what did I see? Monkey bread pans! The tag said $14.95. Ten bucks off!! How could I resist? I scooped one up with some pretty dish towels, got home and realized that I was actually charged $9.95 instead, woohoo!!

For some time, I’ve been thinking that I wanted to do a savory instead of sweet monkey bread loaf. A local restaurant used to serve up rolls that were drenched in a thick pesto of sorts which was mostly garlic. I loved those rolls so much. Another favorite restaurant tops there black bean stew with an amazing cilantro pesto. What if I made pull apart rolls covered in cilantro pesto. Mmmmmm!! What a great idea.

The ants are winning so I still don’t have sourdough. I did however pick this up:

Who in their right mind buys 2 pounds of yeast?? I hear it freezes well….  😀

The cilantro pesto I whipped together turned out amazingly well. Earthy and spicy, I look forward to figuring out what to do with the leftovers. It also made one mean loaf of monkey bread!!

This fabulous monkey bread is being submitted to YeastSpotting.

Cilantro Pesto

4 large cloves garlic

¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 packed cups cilantro, stems and leaves, chopped

1 packed cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped

½ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained

1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup grated parmesano reggiano

¾ cup olive oil

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Put garlic cloves into the container of either a blender or a food processor. Chop. Add pumpkin seeds and chop some more. Add the rest of the ingredients. Process until the sauce is a smooth paste. A food processor works better for this task. If using a blender, you may have to stop the motor of the blender and mix the ingredients a few times in between blending to get a nice smooth paste.

This pesto recipe makes way more sauce than you will use on the monkey bread. Pour a little olive oil over the surface of the pesto to keep it from browning and then store air tight in the refrigerator until ready to use. This pesto can be used as pasta sauce or as a garnish for meals like black bean stew.

Cilantro Pesto & Cheddar Monkey Bread

1 – 2 tbsp butter, softened (for greasing the pan)

¾ cup buttermilk

½ cup water

4 tbsp evaporated cane juice, divided

2 ½ tsp active yeast

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups unbleached white flour (plus more for dusting the kneading board)

1 ¼ cups stone ground whole wheat flour

2 tsp salt

½ – 1 cup cilantro pesto (see recipe above)

1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

In a small sauce pan, combine water and buttermilk. Warm to between 95 and 110 degrees F. Mix in 2 tbsp evaporated cane juice and the yeast. Let stand ten minutes until the mixture is bubbly.

In a large bowl. Mix together white flour, whole wheat flour and salt. In another large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, butter, and the egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured kneading surface. Knead the dough for 5 – 7 minutes adding a little bit more flour if the dough is too tacky. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for one hour or until doubled.

Turn the dough out onto the floured kneading surface and flatten it out into an 8” square. Cut the square into six even ropes. Cut each rope into eight even pieces. Butter the monkey bread pan generously with the softened butter. This is going to get dirty… be prepared… Take each piece of dough and roll it into a little ball. With a spoon put a little cilantro pesto in the palm of your hand and roll the ball of dough in the pesto. Be generous! Transfer the dough balls as they are sauced to the prepared monkey bread pan. Each time you complete a layer of dough balls, toss a few pinches of cheddar over the dough. Keep layering until the pan is full, ending with a sprinkle of cheese.

Let the bread rise covered for 45 minutes. You want the dough to rise to near the top of the pan, try not to let it rise above the pan. While bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, F. and position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake the bread uncovered for 20 minutes. Cover the bread with a sheet of foil and continue baking for 25 to 35 minutes. Check the bread after 25 minutes, if the rolls near the tube spring back when touched, the loaf is ready. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the pan over a plate (careful, it will still be hot) and turn the loaf out onto the plate. Let cool for ten more minutes and then enjoy warm!



  1. Andreas said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:43 am

    What a shiny new toy. 😉

    The bread looks fabulous.

  2. August 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    That’s the way I buy my yeast at Sam’s all the time. Freeze one and date the one I open keeping it in a jar in the frige!
    Great monkey bread pan sale!! Score!!!
    Wonderful pesto monkey bread idea!! Score again!!

  3. Jeanne said,

    August 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I never knew there was an actual pan for monkey bread! I’ve never made it but I love to eat it. Could you please send me a piece? 🙂

    • Mimi said,

      August 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      I would love to, but my belly is now in the shape of a loaf of monkey bread. 😆

  4. August 6, 2010 at 12:02 am

    […] Cilantro Pesto & Cheddar Monkey Bread […]

  5. Sangeetha said,

    August 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    hi.. thanks for visiting my blog.. love your space.. lot of baked goods to try.. Never heard about monkey bread.. It looks great.. 🙂

  6. Joanne said,

    August 7, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    When i first started reading and thought you had made an ordinary monkey bread. I drooled. Now that I hear it’s savory with cilantro? I’m drooling even more. Delicious!

  7. ohiofarmgirl said,

    August 8, 2010 at 4:36 am

    wow! i never knew that monkey bread could be made as a savory..i always thought it was a sweet bread.. hum… oh the possibilities! i keep my yeast in the fridge. i bought a pound of it in February and i’m still workin’ thru it! best $3.95 that i ever spent.

  8. August 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Oh Mimi, you do not know how my desire for bread making have grown since reading your blog. A few months ago, I bought a book with bread recipes (too eager, still looking for fresh yeast for the recipes), I just borrowed a bread recipe book from the library (too eager again, need to get a dutch oven for the recipes), but I at least have some dry active yeast ;] I might need some bread flour. And maybe I should just throw myself into it because I want bread!

    Your monkey bread looks super neat, never tried monkey bread, I adore how yours is green—how did you like it? Did it live up to your expectations? Mmmmm. Pesto. And bread. Mmm.

    • Mimi said,

      August 9, 2010 at 10:32 am

      I’m so happy you’ll be baking bread soon! I hope you love it, it is a very rewarding thing to do!

      I loved the monkey bread, it actually exceeded my expectations. I thought I was about to make a disaster since it was something I concocted on the fly. It was yummy when it was fresh. A couple of days later, I grabbed a hunk of it and tossed it in the oven and let it get crispy on the outside. It was soooooo good!!! Crisp outside and soft on the inside. I actually enjoyed it more as leftovers!

  9. Elizabeth said,

    August 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Now you’re talking. Savoury monkey bread! Why didn’t I think of that?!

    I have a really deep casserole dish, I wonder if I could somehow manufacture a tube to go in the center (I’m too cheap to buy a monkey bread dish, not to mention that there is NO place to store it.)

    • Mimi said,

      August 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      I’ve seen people use bundt pans and angel food cake pans. I really wonder if you need a tube at all. If you baked the bread in a couple of small bread pans, the kind you would use for pound cake, you would probably get enough heat since you would be going 3-4 rolls across. You might have to adjust the amount of time you bake them for. It’s worth a try to save some $$ and space.

  10. Brittany said,

    August 13, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    What i would do if i got ahold of this wonderful creation!

  11. Aparna said,

    August 14, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I still haven’t made monkey bread yet. Don’t have the pan for it either. 🙂
    But I did have that 2 pound yeast that a cousin brought for me 2 yesr back. Yes, it freezes very well.
    Just take out a bit from the bag into a small container for daily use. Store the small one in the fridge and the bag in the freezer.
    My yeast is still active. 🙂

  12. drfugawe said,

    August 14, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Hey Mimi,
    Nice one! Here’s my best Alton Brown imitation – come Christmas time, how about doing a panettone in it? That’d be fun.

    You know, you’ve got a treat still awaiting you when you do your first sweet monkey bread – the sugar and butter bake up into chewy, crunchy, coating on the soft, airy bread – You’ll love it! Use raisins and cinnamon.

  13. Elle said,

    August 22, 2010 at 6:42 am

    That mold would work well for steamed puddings, too. So pretty! Love the pesto savory monkey bread…I’d like a chunk with some summer tomatoes, please

  14. Madam Chow said,

    September 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

    YUM! And the yeast does freeze well.

  15. William Westbrook said,

    May 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    The two-pound block of yeast I bought in June of 2008 is still alive, with refrigeration.

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