Christmas morning is a special time for all families. We gather around our Christmas trees and open presents and share the joy of Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ child and marvels at the mystery of the the Incarnation of God in human flesh. It is a day to celebrate new beginnings and possibilities. Christmas morning is a busy time with lots to do, but everyone still needs to eat.
The tradition is to have a sweet and rich breakfast on Christmas morning. Our family’s tradition has been to eat, what we call Monkey Bread, some call it Christmas Delight. It is based on a Hungarian Coffee Cake developed in the Jewish community called arany galuska, but this dish (with some tweaks) has become an American Christmas morning tradition. (Apparently, we call it monkey bread because we eat it with our fingers like monkeys.)
This food celebrating the Christ-child is certainly designed for children and for all who are children-at-heart. We divide up our balls of biscuits the night before and have the children dip them in the sugar and cinnamon. And then first thing on Christmas morning, when the coffee drips we place them in the oven. This fills the whole house with the delicious smells of Christmas as the kids are waking up with Christmas joy. I hope you enjoy this tradition as much as we do.
Pictured Above: The Adoration of the Shepherds by Giorgione (between 1500 – 1510); oil on panel. Housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Christmas Delight Monkey Bread
Prep Time: 60 – 90 minutes | Rest/Rising Time: 4 hours
Baking Time: 30 minutes |Total time: 5 – 6 hours
3 1/4 cups all-purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
- Whisk 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, and 2 teaspoons salt together in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl whisk 1 cup whole milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter until the sugar has dissolved.
- Combine the flour mixture with the milk mixture while stirring (or using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.) Mix for about 2 minutes until a cohesive dough starts to form.
- Knead the dough by hand (or using a stand mixer with dough hook) for an additional 8 – 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic, and somewhat sticky.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured counter (flouring your hands if necessary, as well) and form into a smooth, round ball.
- Place the dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Let rise for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Towards the end of the rise, grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. In a medium size bowl, mix together 1 cup light brown sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, melt 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter and allow the butter to cool.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop and shape the dough into a 8″ x 8″ square.
- Using a knife, divide the dough into 8 even strips and then divide each of the 8 strips into 8 – 1″ pieces. You should have a total of 64 pieces.
- Shape each piece into a little ball, dip the ball in the melted butter, and the roll the ball in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place the ball in the prepared bundt pan and continue for all 64 pieces. When starting an additional layer in the bundt pan, make sure to stagger the seams of the dough balls. This will help the bread stay together once baked.
- Once all 64 balls have been added, cover with plastic and let rise for an additional 2 hours. The dough should rise to about 1 or 2 inches below the lip of the pan.
- Towards the end of the rise preheat the over to 350.
- Using the middle rack, bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the monkey bread is a deep golden brown and the cinnamon sugar is bubbling around the edges.
- Let the monkey bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then invert and remove the pan and let cool for an additional 10 minutes. Please note: if you leave the monkey bread in the pan for more than 5 minutes you may have trouble easily removing it from the pan.
- Whisk together the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons whole milk to create a smooth icing glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the bread to create a sweet, Christmas morning treat. Enjoy!