You know what they say about Thanksgiving — eat all the turkey and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce and pie, twice, then make cherry cheesecake monkey bread and eat that, too. At least that’s how we do/did this year.
Because my husband works in the medical field, and we need medical people even on holidays, he worked on Thursday afternoon so I ended up having two Thanksgivings: one on Thursday with his family and one on Saturday with mine. My belly = SO FULL, and my heart = so thankful. And nestled right in between the two days of festiveating was the making of (and, also, eating of) this monkey bread.
Please excuse me while I collect myself as I think back on those fond memories of eating said bread warm from the oven with cherry pie filling and cream cheese icing and soft, pillowy, baked-from-scratch pull-apart dough and GAH. Maybe we all need a moment.
Usually I get pretty excited to make monkey bread for the aforementioned reasons plus butter plus sugar, but I was extra excited this time because my family was coming into town and a) my mom’s favorite flavors include cherries, cheesecake and monkey bread and b) I could share this gigantor Bundt with other people, which is my favorite pastime when I bake things (not that I’d have any ol’ problem polishing off this bread on my own, OBVI, but you know, it’s nice to have help). To my surprise, even my sweets neutral/meh-feeling husband, dad and brothers ate it with gusto for coffee time (my family drinks coffee by the trough, so this is basically an all-day thing) and dessert time and even brunch time the next day.
This is exactly the kind of bread I enjoy making around the holidays, too, because while it does take a little extra TLC than the normal loaf, that gives you more time to turn up those Christmas tunes and get your hands dirty in flour, sugar, spice and everything nice. When it’s snowing outside and I’ve got even an iota of free time, I bust out my Red Star yeast, my baking pans and rolling pins and get to work. It’s the best kind of therapy, especially when I know the end result will be enjoyed by those I love.
Feeling a homemade variation of the cherry pie filling I used? Go for it. Want to add some chopped dark chocolate in there, too? Yasssss of course you do. Hankering for a scoch of bourbon or brandy in that cream cheese icing? You do you, fren. You add that scoch. It is the merry holidays, after all.
And on that note, I’m off to nurse my turkey hangover with what few little bites are left of this monkey bread plus coffee plus more baking plans that include all the Christmas-y carbs. GET EXCITED.
Psst again — I’ve got a neat-o sale going on for my eCookbook, “Quick Bread Love.” Use code HOLIDAYS at checkout to get 30% through Dec. 21, awww yeah!
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast
- ⅔ cup warm water (about 110-115 degrees F)
- 4¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
- ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast in warm water. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 cups flour, dry milk powder and salt. Add milk, melted butter, egg and yeast mixture; stir until a dough forms. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 minutes, adding just enough of remaining 1¼ cups flour until dough is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky; OR, knead dough 5 minutes in stand mixer using dough hook on medium speed, adding just enough of remaining 1¼ cups flour until dough is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly greased bowl; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place 1 to 1½ hours until doubled.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar for filling/coating. Melt butter and place in a small bowl. Grease bottom and sides of a large Bundt pan with baking spray or softened butter.
- Punch down dough.* Divide dough into 1-inch pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Dip each dough ball into melted butter, then roll in graham cracker-sugar mixture. Place in prepared pan. Once bottom of pan is covered with dough balls, spoon half of cherry pie filling over top. Top with another layer of dipped and coated dough balls. Top with remaining cherry pie filling. Top with remaining dough balls.
- Cover pan with plastic wrap; let rise 45 minutes until nearly doubled.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes until bread is a very deep golden brown on top and filling is bubbling. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then carefully invert bread onto a serving plate.
- Beat icing ingredients with an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer until smooth (add more powdered sugar or milk as needed to achieve desired consistency). Spoon and spread icing over top of bread. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- *NOTE: At this point, dough can be refrigerated overnight for use the next morning. Just punch dough down, shape into a ball, and return to greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge. The next morning, let dough sit in bowl at room temperature 45 minutes to 1 hour before proceeding with recipe as directed.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.