Lower sugar monkey bread

Who doesn’t love a good monkey bread? This lower sugar version has all the flavor of the classic versions we’re all used to. Nobody will know the difference!

I was envious of my middle school best friend. She had it all – a hot tub, a pool, a waterbed (!!), an adorable puppy, a space-themed room… I could go on and on. Needless to say, I loved it when she would invite me over to her house.

Her mom was super cool too, as she let us girls stay up until the wee hours of morning during sleepovers. We’d usually gossip about boys, tell scary stories and attempt to take a dip in the hot tub when we were at their house.

In the mornings, my friend’s mom made us monkey bread for breakfast. I was intrigued. I never had monkey bread at my house – all we ever ate was Chinese food. I was smitten with the cinnamon-sugar dough balls that I was encouraged to eat with my fingers.

For some inexplicable reason, I haven’t had monkey bread since. Perhaps it’s because I know how bad it is for me, or maybe because I’m afraid I would eat the whole thing. Regardless, it was time to make things right and finally bake myself some monkey bread.

Thankfully, I found a lower sugar version in Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugar cookbook. While this still contains butter and cream, it’s not a low fat breakfast food, but at least it’s got a lot less sugar than your traditional monkey bread recipes.

Addie was over the moon when she had her first taste of this monkey bread. I served it to her and her babysitter one evening as I left to attend a retirement party. The babysitter adored this so much that she happily brought a large piece home to share with her family.

I’m looking forward to the day that I can serve this to my own daughter when she has a sleepover. And maybe, just maybe, I can be the cool mom with the cool house that everybody wants to visit. One can hope, right?

Lower sugar monkey bread

Who doesn't love a good monkey bread? This lower sugar version has all the flavor of the classic versions we're all used to. Nobody will know the difference!
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Resting time3 hours
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bread, Breakfast
Servings: 12
Author: Eva Bakes


  • 3/4 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter very soft
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream


  • In a measuring cup, add the yeast to the milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if mixing by hand, mix the flour and salt together on low speed until well blended. Slowly drizzle in the milk mixture until you achieve a shaggy dough. Add in the 3 Tablespoons of butter and egg yolk and mix until you get a soft, pliable dough.
  • If the dough is too sticky, add more flour (about 1-2 Tablespoons at a time). If it's too dry, add a few Tablespoons of water. The dough should be tacky but not sticky.
  • Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover. Allow it to rise for about 2 hours. It should double in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a long rectangle, about 12 inches by 4 inches. Divide the dough into 4 equal strips. Then divide each strip into 8 pieces so you end up with 32 chunks of dough.
  • Generously grease an 8-inch round cake pan that is at least 2 inches in height.
  • Pour the melted butter into a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the sugar and cinnamon together.
  • Roll each dough piece into a small bowl and dip it into the melted butter. Then transfer to the bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Shake off any excess. Place the dough ball into your prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Make sure to place the dough balls somewhat close together - just allow for a little bit of space between each one. Keep stacking the dough on top of each other.
  • Cover the pan and allow to rise once more - about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture with the cream. Pour this over the dough pieces and bake for 45-55 minutes or until the tops have turned golden brown.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a plate. The bread is best served warm and on the day it is baked.


The monkey bread can be stored in an airtight container and will keep for up to 2 days. You can reheat this in the oven for 10 minutes at 300 degrees F.
Source: Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne Chang

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