With this French toast recipe, we adapted this nostalgic childhood goodie into a decadent breakfast classic! Introducing our new favorite breakfast: Monkey Bread French Toast!
Who doesn’t love the sticky, sweet, cinnamon sugary goodness of fresh baked Monkey Bread? This Monkey Bread is made from soft doughy balls of brioche-ish bread rolled in cinnamon sugar and layered with sticky caramel sauce. Once baked, the Monkey Bread is sliced thick, soaked in a custard batter and pan-fried in butter. The whole family is sure to love it!
For another yummy breakfast bake, try our Ooey Gooey Sticky Toffee Pecan Buns!
What is Monkey Bread?
Monkey bread is basically a pull-apart cinnamon rolls bake. Classically, an enriched yeast dough (made with butter and sugar), is rolled into small balls. Then, those balls of dough are rolled in cinnamon sugar and/or caramel sauce. (In this monkey bread recipe, we used both!) It is usually baked in a bundt pan and enjoyed by using your hands to tear off the bite-sized pieces. Just like a monkey would!
The Pullman Loaf Pan
For this recipe, instead of using Monkey Bread’s typical bundt-pan, we used a Pullman loaf pan. This lidded pan (sometimes called a sandwich loaf pan), creates a perfectly square shaped monkey bread slices. We recommend using a Pullman loaf pan designed for one pound of dough. They are typically about 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 4 inches (about 21 x 11 x 10 centimeters). We bought ours on Amazon for about $20.
If you don’t have a Pullman loaf pan, feel free to bake this recipe in a regular, open-topped loaf pan. The shape will be different than pictured but the Monkey Bread French Toast will be just as delicious!
How To Make Monkey Bread French Toast
Cinnamon Monkey Bread French Toast is a harmonious combination of three recipes: a fluffy, enriched bread dough rolled in cinnamon sugar, Caramel Sauce, and French Toast. Simple ingredients are transformed into the most delicious breakfast! Here are the deets on the different components!
Mixing the Dough
Oh, this dough! We love it so! This dough is a creation adapted from our favorite cinnamon roll recipe and ultra-buttery brioche. The results are a fluffy, buttery, dough that bakes to perfection and stands up to the gooey caramel sauce. It’s the perfect base for this Monkey Bread French Toast! We seriously can’t get enough!
For the best results, we recommend making this dough in a stand mixer. While it can be done by hand this dough is fairly sticky and incorporates a lot of butter that is better handled by a dough hook. Here’s how we do it! Be sure to check out the step-by-step images, below!
- Firstly, in the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the sugar in warm milk.
- Then, sprinkle the active dry yeast over the milk to bloom (hydrate). Let sit until the yeast mixture becomes frothy, about ten minutes. (If the mixture does not become frothy, the yeast is dead and your bread will not rise! Start over with new yeast and try again!)
- Next, add your egg, egg yolks, flour and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Once combined, increase your speed to medium.
- While mixing at medium speed, add your cubed, unsalted butter one piece at a time! Make sure your butter is room-temperature so it can be smoothly incorporated into the dough.
- After mixing, transfer the dough into a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size. Enriched doughs (with butter and sugar) tend to take longer to rise than straight doughs (with just flour, salt, water, and yeast). For us, this dough took about 90 minutes to double in size. Keep a close eye, depending on the temperature of your kitchen, it could take more or less time.
Shaping The Monkey Bread
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down to deflate. Pat the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch (1 ¼ centimeters) thick.
7. Next, with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel, or sharp knife, cut the dough into small cubes. We didn’t measure, but our bread cubes were squares with about one inch (2 ½ centimeters) sides.
8. Working in small batches, roll each piece of dough in the cinnamon brown sugar mixture. In a prepared loaf pan, alternately layer the rolled balls of dough with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Repeat until all of the dough has been used.
9. Cover the pan (either with the pullman loaf lid or a damp cloth) and allow to proof for an additional 30 minutes before baking.
10. Bake the Monkey Bread and allow to cool completely before slicing. You can bake the bread ahead of time, and be ready to make French Toast the next morning or freeze double-wrapped slices for Monkey Bread French Toast whenever the mood strikes!
The Caramel Sauce
It wouldn’t be Monkey Bread without that gooey caramel sauce! For this component, we used butter and brown sugar for a rich, caramel-y flavor. To prevent it from being too thick, we stirred in a splash of water, too. This caramel sauce just takes a couple minutes on the stovetop. Be sure to allow the caramel to cool for a few minutes before layering it in with the balls of bread dough. Otherwise, the hot caramel will melt your buttery dough!
The French Toast (Batter & Beyond)
Once your Monkey Bread is baked and cooled, it’s time to make Monkey Bread French Toast! Soak each slice of Monkey Bread in a shallow dish of French Toast Batter. The batter is made simply from a little reserved cinnamon sugar, eggs, whole milk and vanilla extract.
The longer you soak each slice in the egg mixture, the more batter will be absorbed and the more custard-like your breakfast will become. Personally, we like a soft, custard soaked exterior, and fluffy bread-like interior to our French Toast. We soaked each slice for about two minutes and the results were spectacular!
Now, all that’s left to do is to get that griddle hot! Melt a tablespoon of butter in a hot skillet and griddle each side until golden brown and delicious!
Your Monkey Bread French Toast is ready to be served!! Keep cooked slices of Monkey Bread French Toast warm in a 200° oven (93° celsius) until ready to be served.
Then, fix it up with your favorite toppings and sides! We serve ours with extra butter, pure maple syrup and a side of bacon or breakfast sausage. You could go the extra mile and pile yours with fresh fruit and powdered sugar! OR, imagine this French toast topped with brûléed bananas, extra caramel sauce, toasted pecans and whipped cream! Good morning, Sunshine!
Other Baking Recipe You May Like...
Ultimate Monkey Bread French Toast
- Stand Mixer with Dough Hook Attachment
- Pullman Loaf Pan (or Standard Loaf Pan)
- Parchment Paper and Small Binder Clips, optional, See Note: c.
Monkey Bread Loaf
- ¾ Cup whole milk warmed to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees celsius)
- ¼ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast See Note: a
- 1 large egg room-temperature
- 2 large egg yolks room-temperature
- 3 Cups all-purpose flour plus more, as needed, to prevent sticking
- ½ teaspoon fine kosher salt*
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter cubed, room-temperature (See Note: b), plus more as needed for greasing a proofing bowl and loaf pan
- ¼ Cup granulated sugar
- ¼ Cup, lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ Cup unsalted butter
- ¾ Cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine kosher salt*
- 1 Tablespoon tepid water
French Toast Batter
- 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Sugar
- 4 large eggs room-temperature
- 1 Cup whole milk room-temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Monkey Bread French Toast
- 1 Monkey Bread Loaf sliced into 8 thick pieces
- French Toast Batter
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter for griddling, plus more for serving, as desired
- Maple Syrup or your other favorite toppings, as desired
Monkey Bread Dough
- Gather, measure and prepare the Monkey Bread Loaf ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible. To view metric measurements, toggle the US Customary/Metric switch at the top of this recipe card.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, dissolve the sugar in the warm milk. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the warmed milk mixture and set aside to bloom (hydrate) until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt together.
- Once the milk and yeast mixture has become frothy, add the egg, egg yolks and flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer. Process on low speed until combined and a dough has formed, about one minute. At this stage, the dough will appear quite wet and tacky. Increase the speed to medium.
- While processing at medium speed, add cubes of room-temperature butter one at a time. Allow each cube of butter to be completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next cube of butter. Once all the butter has been added and is completely incorporated into the dough, continue to process for 1 - 2 minutes or until dough has formed a ball and the sides of the stand mixer’s bowl are nearly cleaned.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough once or twice to shape into a round, taut ball. The dough should be tacky but not overly sticky and should not stick to your lightly floured hands. (If the dough is overly sticky and difficult to work with, knead in additional flour 1 Tablespoon at a time). Transfer the dough to a greased medium mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel to proof (rise). Allow the dough to proof in a warm, draft-free environment until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the loaf pan by greasing and/or lining the pan with parchment paper. (See Note: c).
- Then, prepare the Cinnamon Sugar by combining the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Reserve one Tablespoon of Cinnamon Sugar for the French Toast Batter.
- Next, prepare the Caramel Sauce according to the instructions listed in the section below.
- Once the dough had doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough to deflate. Then, using your hands, pat the dough down into a square or rectangle about ½ inch (1 ¼ centimeters) thick. Then, using a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into 50 - 60 small pieces (about 1 inch or 2 ½ centimeter squares).
- Roll each piece of dough in cinnamon sugar. Layer about one fourth of the Cinnamon Sugar rolled Monkey Bread Dough in the loaf pan. Top with an additional sprinkle of the Cinnamon Sugar and about one fourth of the Caramel Sauce. Repeat this step with all of the remaining Monkey Bread Dough, Cinnamon Sugar and Caramel Sauce.
- Once assembled, cover the Monkey Bread with a damp kitchen towel or pullman loaf lid. Allow to proof (rise) in a warm, draft-free environment for an additional 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit (177° celsius).
- Once the dough had risen for an additional 30 minutes, bake the Monkey Bread for 45 - 55 minutes, turning once halfway through the bake. We recommend baking this loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any potential Caramel Sauce drippings from falling in the oven. In our oven, this Monkey Bread pullman loaf took 50 minutes exactly. When properly baked, this Monkey Bread should have an internal temperature of 190° Fahrenheit (88° celsius).
- Once baked, allow the bread to cool for 5 - 10 minutes in the pan. (If you are using a pullman loaf pan, crack the lid slightly once removed from the oven, to allow for stream to escape.) Then, invert the pan on a cooling rack to remove from the loaf pan. Be careful, the Monkey Bread and Caramel Sauce will be very hot. Allow the Monkey Bread Loaf to cool completely before slicing. This Monkey Bread Loaf can be made a day ahead of time and tightly wrapped in plastic overnight.
- Gather, measure and prepare the Caramel Sauce ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible.
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine all Caramel Sauce ingredients (butter, light brown sugar, salt and water). Set the Caramel Sauce over medium-low heat and whisk to combine. While whisking, bring the Caramel Sauce to a simmer and immediately remove from the heat. Set the Caramel Sauce aside to cool until ready to use in Step 11 of the Monkey Bread Dough portion of this recipe.
French Toast Batter
- Gather, measure and prepare the French Toast Batter ingredients as listed.
- In a shallow dish, combine all French Toast Batter ingredients ( Cinnamon Sugar, eggs, whole milk, vanilla). Whisk to combine.
Monkey Bread French Toast
- Gather, measure and prepare the ingredients as listed.
- If desired, preheat the oven to 200° Fahrenheit (93° celsius) for keeping the cooked Monkey Bread French Toast warm for up to 20 minutes prior to serving.
- Soak each slice of the Monkey Bread Loaf in the French Toast Batter for 1 - 5 minutes. (Quickly dipped Monkey Bread will have a fluffy bread like texture. Monkey Bread that has soaked in the French Toast Batter for longer will absorb more liquid and have a creamier, custard-like center.)
- Meanwhile, heat a Tablespoon, or so, of butter in a large or medium skillet over medium heat. Allow extra French Toast Batter to drip off of each slice of batter-soaked Monkey Bread Loaf before transferring each slice to the pan. We recommend cooking the French Toast in 2 - 4 batches to prevent over-crowding the pan. Add remaining butter in batches, as needed.
- Griddle Monkey Bread French Toast for 1 - 2 minutes per side or until warmed through and golden brown. If desired, keep cooked slices of Monkey Bread French Toast warm in the preheated oven while griddling the remaining batches.
- Once ready, serve Monkey Bread French Toast immediately with additional butter, maple syrup, or your other favorite toppings, as desired. Enjoy!
* A Note About Salt
Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on The Sage Apron are developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. It is a great all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If using table salt, reduce quantities by about half.