Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post before Christmas, but I have a hard time saying No to a recipe request from one of my brothers, especially when they bring up food memories that involve our mother. My brother Sam wrote, “Judy, Mom always made sticky buns in a cake pan that had the centerpiece cut out. They were very popular. Do you remember how to make them?”

He was talking about Monkey Bread. I really had to think hard to remember how Mom made it back in the Seventies. Remembering brought me to a happy place in our childhood kitchen with the big bay window over the sink that overlooked the entrance to Bay View. I was happy for the challenge.

Sam, here is my first attempt in forty years at making Monkey Bread. The big white blob is cream cheese frosting. Although I knew what kind of pan you were referring to when you wrote “a cake pan that had the centerpiece cut out,” I didn’t have an angel food cake pan, so I used a Les Creuset Dutch oven. It did the job. Do not use a tube pan with a removable bottom as the butter will leak out and make a mess.

When I went to the grocery store to find loaves of frozen bread dough, it was nice to see they still stocked the five-pound packages I used as a kid. You will need two loaves for this recipe. Be sure to defrost them about thirty minutes before you plan to bake. There is no need to let them rise first.


2 loaves (2 pounds) frozen bread dough, thawed
1 stick (½ cup) butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts or raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º
Grease a deep 9 or 10-inch cooking container.

Mix together sugars and cinnamon.
Melt butter in a pan until just melted. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat.
Cut loaves into pieces, as shown in the photo below.

Drop individual pieces of dough into the butter and stir until each piece is evenly coated

Take each piece out and roll it in the cinnamon sugar—place in a greased baking pan. Let rest for about 15 minutes. It does need to rise in the pan before cooking.

Bake for about 45 minutes. The dough will rise as it cooks. The top layer will turn golden brown and be firm to touch when it is ready. If you don’t cook the bread the full amount of time, the lower dough balls will be doughy even though the bread looks done on top.

Let cool for five minutes and then flip onto a serving plate.


½ package cream cheese, softened (½ pound)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

Mix ingredients together until well-blended. Thin with more milk if desired.

Serve bread with cream cheese frosting on the side or drizzled on top, as shown in this gorgeous photo sent to me Christmas morning by my Aunt Rachelle.

Merry Christmas to Rachelle and my brothers!

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18 thoughts on “Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

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