I have a confession to make…. I’ve been withholding an outstanding recipe from you. I’ve made this savory monkey bread with Gruyère, scallions, and bacon at least three times now.
That may not sound like a lot, but I don’t frequently make recipes more than once. Either I like it and I know it, so I move on, or I don’t like it and I want to adjust things but I keep putting it off…. very infrequently, I like something so much I make up excuses to keep “testing” the recipe. This savory monkey bread, from Alexandra Stafford’s marvelous cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs, falls into that third category.
All monkey bread is best eaten immediately after baking. In this case, use your fingers to pull away glorious pieces of warm, gooey cheesy goodness, with pieces of bacon hiding in little pockets. The subtle tang from the scallions and Dijon-poppy seed butter helps to cut the richness. Please scold people who don’t immediately start grabbing pieces of this monkey bread. Tell them to dig in and they’ll soon be unable to stop going back from seconds/thirds/fourths. I took this to a Superbowl party over the weekend and even though it wasn’t directly fresh from the oven, people raved about it and it was the first thing to disappear from the food table.Alexandra’s savory monkey bread is guaranteed to please any crowd you choose to bake it for, and while the instructions look long-ish, they mostly involve layering bread, bacon, and cheese.
One of the great features of almost all breads, including this savory monkey bread, is it can be assembled ahead of time (not too much longer than 12 hours ahead though), and left to rise the second time in the refrigerator. That means it can easily be assembled the morning of an event and tucked away for later, so you can devote the rest of your day to whatever else needs to be done.
My only caution to you when baking this recipe is a 10-cup Bundt pan is a tight fit for these ingredients. Place a rimmed baking sheet underneath the Bundt pan, one that is wider and longer so as to catch any potentially overflowing cheese that might bubble over the rim of the Bundt pan. If you have a 12-cup Bundt pan, so much the better.
I did make a few adjustments to the recipe: I reduced the amount of butter called for, because a full stick was too much. I added a sprinkle of Parmesan to the bottom of the pan as well as the top, courtesy of what I’ve learned from America’s Test Kitchen and Baked, because it makes the bread “prettier” once inverted and adds extra flavor. Taking another page from Baked and their caramel monkey bread, I layered my dough balls and filling into three layers rather than two. Pretty minor modifications, as they go, but worth it.
Adapted slightly from Bread Toast Crumbs
Savory Monkey Bread with Gruyere, Scallions, and Bacon
The total time includes two rise phases for the dough, as well as the cook time.
- 4 cups (512 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 6 slices bacon finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 cup (120 g; 4 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup (120 g; 4 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup (40 g; 1-1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan or other hard aged cheese divided
- 1/4 cup (32 g) unbleached all-purpose flour more as needed
- 5 green onions white and light green parts, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast together in a large bowl using a whisk or rubber spatula. Stream in the lukewarm water and use a rubber spatula to mix everything together. After a few minutes, the liquid should be absorbed and the ingredients will form a sticky ball of dough. Cover the bowl loosely with a damp (but clean) kitchen towel or piece of plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to proof for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
- While the dough undergoes the first rise, prep the other components of the monkey bread. Heat a medium/large skillet over medium-low heat and cook the bacon until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess drippings.
- In a small bowl, stir together the softened butter, Dijon mustard, and poppy seeds until combined. Grate or shred the mozzarella and Gruyere, transfer to a medium bowl, and stir to combine the cheeses.
Grease a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan or a 3-quart Dutch oven with a generous amount of butter. Grate the Parmesan cheese and scatter half (roughly 1/6 cup) of the grated Parmesan on the bottom of the greased Bundt pan. Reserve the other half for later.
Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Once the dough has approximately doubled in size, spread 1/4 cup of flour out onto a clean work surface or large cutting board. Use two forks to separate the dough into two, and lift one half of the dough out of the bowl and onto the flour-dusted work surface. Dust your hands and the exterior of the dough, then shape the (very sticky) dough into a rough ball. Divide the ball into roughly 14-16 equal pieces, each about the size of a golf ball. Using the minimal amount of flour required to prevent the dough from sticking, loosely form each small piece into a ball and transfer them to the pre-greased pan until the bottom is filled. This should take about 10 pieces.
- Top this layer of dough pieces with 1/3 of the butter mixture, 1/3 of the bacon, 1/3 of the sliced green onions, and 1/3 of the mozzarella/Gruyere cheese. Add the remaining ~4-6 dough balls on top, then repeat the step above to form balls from the remaining dough (you may need to add more flour). Finish covering the butter-bacon-onion-cheese layer with dough balls, which should require another 6-8 balls.
Top the second layer of dough balls with 1/2 the remaining butter mixture, followed by 1/2 the remaining bacon, 1/2 the sliced green onions, then 1/2 the mozzarella/Gruyere. Cover this layer with the remaining dough balls. You won't have quite enough to fully cover up the cheeses, just distribute the dough balls evenly. Cover the third layer of dough with the remaining butter, bacon, green onions, and mozzarella/Gruyere, then scatter the reserved 1/6 cup of grated Parmesan evenly on top.
Let the dough rise in a warm spot, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes until the dough balls puff up slightly. [Alternatively, you can also cover the pan with plastic wrap at this point at refrigerate it up to 12 hours prior to baking. Remove it from the fridge (and remove the plastic wrap) while the oven pre-heats.]
Bake the assembled monkey bread in the preheated oven for 40-44 minutes, until the cheese bubbles along the edges and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then invert onto a large plate and serve immediately.
Monkey bread is best eaten immediately, but any leftovers can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer for up to a month. Rejuvenate by reheating at 300 F until warmed through.