I’ve decided to fully give into Autumn this week because there’s no use in fighting it any more. I’d say today was the first chilly day here in Los Angeles (in a long time), which means it was really the first day where I actually felt like Fall has arrived. So it’s time to officially break out the pumpkin and pumpkin spice and start baking those comforting sweets that make us happy for this time of year. This Pumpkin Sticky Bun Monkey Bread combines two great treats; sticky buns (loaded with caramel and pecans) and monkey bread! The autumnal twist with pumpkin and pumpkin spice just takes an already irresistible dessert and really tips it over the edge, in a very good way. When the weather starts to turn, during this time of year, and the air really gets chilly, there’s nothing better than to open all the windows, turn on some music and get in the kitchen and bake something. Anything. It doesn’t have to be something specific, just as long as you bake. I’ll just leave this recipe here because it happens to be the perfect Fall weekend baking project.
Let’s start by making the pumpkin yeasted dough. This is just basic sweet cinnamon roll dough that has some spices and canned pumpkin in it, to get it all fall-ed up. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar and salt.
**Tip: You can buy pumpkin pie spice, but if you have a bunch of spices at home already, you can probably make yourself. Just mix some cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, cloves, ginger and cardamom together.**
Add the warmed milk, butter, egg, and yeast and mix until well combined. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure it’s all evenly incorporated.
**Note: It’s important to warm up the milk and butter until warmed through but not hot. You don’t want it too hot or else the yeast will die. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate.**
Switch to the dough hook attachment and then add the flour and mix until it comes together to form a dough that comes away from the bowl. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth, soft and supple. Transfer to a oiled bowl and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel. Set in a warm spot and allow to double in size, about 1 hour and a half.
**Tip: If the dough is too sticky, and it’s still sticking to the bowl, add a bit more flour a small amount at a time until the right consistency is reached. Remember to only add a bit a time because you can always add more, but you can’t take some out.**
While the dough rests, let’s make the caramel for the sticky bun part of this recipe. Combine the brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Keep stirring it so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom.
Once the sugar has dissolved and the caramel has thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, stirring until combined. Set to the side and allow the mixture to cool somewhat.
**Tip: The caramel can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use. Just let it sit at room temperature to bring the temperature down.**
Once the dough rises, punch it down and then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Cut into 30 to 32 small pieces. You want them to be similar in size.
Roll each dough piece into a tight ball and place on a baking sheet. Continue to roll them until they’re all good to go.
Pour half of the caramel into a large loaf pan, spreading it out into an even layer. Then sprinkle with half of the chopped pecans. Take half of the dough balls and dip each into melted butter and then roll around in cinnamon sugar. Place on top of the caramel in a single layer.
Pour the remaining caramel on top and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Then top with the remaining dough balls, dipping them in butter and cinnamon sugar again, just as before. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.
Bake until golden brown and the center has fully set, about 30 to 40 minutes. If the loaf is getting too brown on top, cover loosely with foil for about 10 minutes of the baking time. Once done, allow to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a platter or baking sheet.
**Tip: It’s important to invert the loaf as soon as possible, while it’s still warm because if you let it cool down too much, the caramel will make it stick to the pan and it won’t come out cleanly.**
To me, monkey bread is ALWAYS better when the same day, while it’s still warm. It will never taste quite as good as it does then. BUT that’s not to say it won’t be just as good later on, because let’s be honest, it’s bread rolled around in butter and sugar and drenched in caramel. It literally doesn’t get any better than that.
So the bread is obviously decadent as it is because of all of the butter and sugar and caramel and it doesn’t really need anything more, but if you’re feeling extra special, then why not drizzle it with a cream cheese icing?! No one will ever say no to that, and you don’t need to drench it in the glaze, but rather a simple drizzle will be more than enough.
If you don’t finish it all in one sitting—with your family and friends, of course—then you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, once it has completely cooled off. And to ensure that it doesn’t dry out, I’d wrap it in plastic wrap and then stick it in an air tight container or a large food storage bag.
This is a great weekend baking project for fall because we’re all in a pumpkin and pumpkin spice state of mind during this time of year. Plus, the fun part of Monkey Bread isn’t the making, although it is fun, it’s actually the eating of it. The whole idea of pulling it apart and eating it with your hands. It’s a dream come true.
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- ½ cup canned pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
- To make the dough, combine the milk and butter and warm through in a pot set over low heat. Keep stirring it around until the butter has just melted through and the milk is warm to the touch. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin spice and salt. Add the egg, milk and butter mixture, and yeast and mix until well combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add in the flour, beat until the dough comes together and comes off the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour a small amount at a time. Knead on moderate speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, to make the caramel, combine the brown sugar, butter and cream in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Make sure to stir it every once in a while to make sure it doesn't burn. Once the sugar has dissolved and the caramel has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Punch the dough down and then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Cut into 30 to 32 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
- Pour half of the caramel into the bottom of a large 10-inch loaf pan (or small tube pan). Sprinkle with half of the pecans. Pour the melted butter, from the coating, into a shall dish. Then combine the sugar and cinnamon in a separate shallow dish. Dip half of the dough balls into the butter and then roll around in the cinnamon sugar. Place in the pan, over the caramel, in a single layer. Then pour the remaining caramel over the top and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Then dip the remaining dough balls in the butter and sugar and place on top of the caramel layer once more. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to double in size, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the loaf has risen, is golden brown and the center has set, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. While it's still warm, invert the monkey bread onto a large platter or baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and enough milk to cream a smooth pourable glaze. Drizzle the glaze on top of the loaf and serve immediately. Enjoy!