Southern Sweets: Monkey Bread

An image of monkey bread.

Image via Wikipedia

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.”
(via Wikipedia)

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.

4 Responses to “Southern Sweets: Monkey Bread”

  1. wow…how did you live in Alabama and never even hear of monkey bread till you were

    • I lived in Mobile. It’s not really Alabama, I’ve learned. It should be combine with coastal Mississippi and the Florida panhandle to make a 51st state called “High Homeowner’s Insuranceland.”


  1. Southern Sweets Showdown Play-in: #17 Monkey Bread vs. #16 Raisin Pie | Real Southern Men - October 6, 2011

    […] For scouting reports on the two competitors, check out RSM Jerrod Brown’s history of the depression-era family recipe that led him to the discovery of raisin pie and RSM Wayne Franklin’s exploration of the oddity that is monkey bread. […]

  2. Southern Sweets Showdown: Make Your Play-in Picks! | Real Southern Men - October 10, 2011

    […] the Pies, Cobblers & Dumplings region, you’ve got #17 Monkey Bread vs #16 Raisin […]

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