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Some desserts are just perfect to share…and this monkey bread is one of them! Named for the way each piece is picked apart, just like a monkey would eat, this is one delicious creation!

Here is how it works – once the bread is baked and turned onto its serving plate, the shiny caramel sings to those nearby, inviting them to come closer for a tantalising smell. They are then hit with the heady aromas of cardamom, vanilla and burnt butter. Taking a piece of the dough, the eating experience is then enhanced by the subtle flavour of the toasted coconut which coats every little ball of dough. This, my friends, is a symphony for the taste buds!

Serves: 12

  • 1 cup full cream milk, lukewarm
  • 1/3 cup water, lukewarm
  • ¼ cup white caster sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dried yeast
  • 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 ½ cups white spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) softened unsalted butter, divided in half

Coconut coating

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut, plus a little extra for sprinkling on top to serve
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  1. Combine the warm milk and water with the white caster sugar and yeast and stir with a fork until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until the yeast is activated and the mixture becomes foamy.

  2. Place the flours, salt and cardamom in a large bowl and lightly mix with a butter knife. Make a well in the centre and add the lightly beaten egg, two tablespoons unsalted butter (reserve the other two tablespoons to grease your tin) and the yeast mixture. Cut through the mixture with the knife until the dough starts to come together and then tip it all onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and has a lovely smooth elastic appearance. Note that it is meant to be a little sticky however if it is too wet add 1 teaspoon of flour extra at a time. Form it into a neat ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap (making sure the wrap is resting on the dough itself yet is really loose on top to allow the dough to rise), and then cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. As with most other breads, let the dough rise in a warm, draught-free environment for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

  3. Grease a 10 inch bundt tin with the remaining two tablespoons of butter, using your fingers to make sure you grease every single little part of the tin. Set aside.

  4. While waiting for the bread to rise, place the 100g unsalted butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir frequently until the milk solids have disappeared and the butter has lightly browned and taken a nutty fragrance. Set aside.

  5. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, coconut sugar, shredded coconut, vanilla bean paste and ground cardamom until they are all incorporated. Set aside.

  6. When the dough has finished rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a 25cm x 25cm square. Use a pizza wheel or dough scraper, cut the dough into 36 pieces. Working with a few pieces at a time, roll each piece of dough into a rough ball, then roll each one in the browned butter and then roll in the coconut mixture. Layer the dough balls into the bundt tin so that they fit snugly. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

  7. Cover the bundt tin with another greased plastic wrap and tea towel and allow to rise again for about an hour.

  8. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan forced is the best oven option to use if you have that option) and position a rack in the lower half of the oven.

  9. Once the bread has finished rising, place into the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is dark and caramelised and the sugar is bubbling around the edges. Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. Cool for another 10 minutes before sprinkling with the extra shredded coconut (if desired) before serving.