Does pizza really make everything better? Yes. Even a classically sweet treat like monkey bread could use a pizza makeover. Comin' right up. We've taken monkey bread to a NEW pizzatastic dimension, where everything is drenched in marinara and stuffed with mozzarella cheese.
But, is it possible to to improve pizza and it's divine design? Perhaps. We can't deny, we're big fans of these buttery, pull-apart-able bits of biscuit dough, oozing with pizza-liciousness. Once you pop, you just won't stop. We don't even miss the slices. But we'll let you decide.
We've got our pizza monkey bread recipe for you down below! And this one is so simple and user-friendly, it would be a crime not to taste it.
Monkey Bread, Through the Ages
The early and ancient days of bread-baking were free-spirited times—no bread pans were used (because they didn’t exist yet). Dough was just placed on the floor or wall of an oven and baked into whatever shape that dough pleased. But, by the 19th century, bread pans became a common kitchen tool and changed the bread game forever. Make way for monkey bread: a mountain of tasty dough pieces, dipped in butter and baked on top of one another.
It’s thought that this technique started in Dutch ovens, which are just covered ceramic pots that can be set over a fire for cooking. The pot had a lid on it, and the monkey bread pieces could easily stack on top of one another to form a mound of finger-lickin’ goodness. It was revolutionary. No knives were needed to serve this bread, and it didn’t even need to be buttered! And, yes, monkey bread started out as a rich savory bread, not a sweet treat. But, despite bakers experimenting with monkey-bread-esque creations, none of these were actually called “monkey bread” yet.
No, monkey bread has gone by many names, like jumble bread, bubble loaf, pull-apart bread, and pinch-me cake. The term “monkey bread” didn’t become popular until the 1940s in Southern California. Some say the name originated from “monkey food”—a 1940s Southern slang term for snack food—combined with jumble bread. Some believe pulling apart the pieces of bread is similar to how monkeys pick at and play with their food. Others claim it’s all about looks, because a monkey bread loaf looks like a barrel of doughy monkeys crawling all over each other!
The Sweet Monkey Bread Myth
The sweet version of monkey bread that most of us know and love isn’t really monkey bread! Those tiny dough bits doused in cinnamon sugar or brown sugar are actually an old Hungarian dessert that (accidentally) stole the name monkey bread. Back in the late 17th century, aranygaluska—also known as the “golden dumpling” coffee cake—was gaining popularity in Hungary. As Hungarian immigrants made their way over to America, they brought aranygaluska with them and, by the 1900s, it was being sold at bakeries across the country.
It was often referred to as “Hungarian coffee cake” in the U.S., thanks to Betty Crocker’s Americanization of the dish, but that name eventually faded away, too. As the savory, buttery monkey bread was hitting its stride in the States, those Hungarian coffee cakes looked eerily similar… Little balls of dough, all neatly baked together, making one delicious, pull-apart-able mound! They could easily be confused. And, by the 1970s, aranygaluska was permanently confused with monkey bread, taking on the name we still call it by today. But, fear not. Yet again, we’re taking a dish back to its historical roots by making monkey bread savory again—and, of course, we’re kicking it up a notch by pizza-fying it.
Monkey Bread Tidbits
- Most likely, Middle Eastern cooks made the first cinnamon rolls—sweet, buttery rolls with sugar and cinnamon—which paved the way for aranygaluska and later monkey bread!
- Monkey bread is meant to be cooked in a Bundt pan, which is a deep, round pan with a hole in the middle. That hole allows the heat to circulate so the buttery dough cooks through in the center, rather than turning to mush!
- Betty Crocker played a major role in making monkey bread popular in the U.S., by Americanizing "Hungarian coffee cake" and including a recipe for it in her 1949 cookbook. But, Betty Crocker isn’t actually a real person, and never was!
- During Ronald Regan’s presidency, monkey bread was a traditional dish at the White House during Christmas! Regan liked the treat so much, his wife, Nancy, made sure he had a loaf the night before his meeting with the Iran-Contra Congressional committee in 1987. Supposedly, Ronald Regan said, “Mommy, I may go to prison, but I’ll always remember this monkey bread.”
- The fruit of the baobab tree is also called monkey bread, mainly because it’s eaten by monkeys. It can also be eaten by humans, or dried and ground up to make a drink.
Monkey Around with this Monkey Bread, Why Don't Ya?
Help monkey bread reclaim its history by making it savory again. What's not to love about butter-drenched bread? But, don't stop there. After all, if you're here, you're a weirdough. Take monkey bread all the way to Pizza Town. Stuff those biscuit bits with mozzarella cheese! Lather on the marinara! Devour every last monkey in that bread barrel! Your belly with thank you.
- 2 cans jumbo buttermilk biscuits
- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese block
- ½ cup butter
- 1 Tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- mini pepperonis
- ½ - ¾ cup marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Cut mozzarella cheese block into chunks.
- Open biscuit cans and cut each biscuit into quarters.
- Fill each biscuit piece with a chunk of mozzarella cheese.
- Melt butter. Whisk in garlic paste and seasoning.
- Dip each cheese-stuffed biscuit piece into the butter mixture. Transfer to a Bundt pan, lightly sprayed.
- Layer in biscuit pieces along with shredded mozzarella and mini pepperonis.
- Once half of pan is full, drizzle ¼ cup of marinara sauce. Finish with the rest of the biscuit pieces, more shredded mozzarella, and pepperonis. Drizzle marinara on top.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. Pull to pieces and EAT THE PIZZA.
Yields 1 barrel of monkeys in a bread.