We’ve gathered here today to ponder one of the great mysteries of our time: just what the heck is monkey bread, anyway?
I was 21 before I ever experienced the sticky-sweet, lumpy miracle that is monkey bread. It was at my first job out of college. My boss, a middle-aged woman who reminded me all too much of a less-talented Tammy Faye Bakker, had brought in a loaf (Is it a loaf? A bundt? I have no idea) to ply clients who were doing a shoot in our studio. She and my co-workers looked at me as if I had two heads when I mentioned that I had never heard of, much less eaten, monkey bread.
They assured me no actual monkeys were harmed in the making. I am still suspicious.
What they presented to me was a big, lumpy cake-y, biscuit-y mound of baked goodness coated with a thick, brown sugary glaze. You didn’t slice off pieces of it like cake. You sort of carved away globs of it with your fork like a miner extracting nuggets of gold.
I can’t be sure, but I suspect the name comes from the fact that it looks as if it were assembled by monkeys who flung the balls of dough into the pan. When I think of what monkeys are noted for flinging, I realize that’s not the best endorsement. So we turn to the interwebs for the real answer:
“Monkey bread, also called sticky bread, African coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake, bubbleloaf and monkey brains, is a sticky, gooey pastry served in the United States for breakfast. The origin of the term monkey bread is uncertain. Possible etymologies include that the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree, or the act of several people pulling at the bread is reminiscent of monkey behavior.”
Yeah, that’s a little more appetizing than my explanation. You can now buy pre-packaged, frozen monkey bread at the Walmarts, but the best is still made the old-fashioned way … by monkeys.
Vote for Monkey Bread in the Southern Sweets Showdown on Facebook – even though my old boss who introduced me to it once told a client that I had no discernible writing talent … right in front of me.