Michael Anthony's Monkey Bread

A Sweet Holiday Side

The chef prepares his favorite holiday dish from his new book, "The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook."
Difficulty: Moderate
Cook Time: min

Michael Anthony, executive chef of New York City's Gramercy Tavern and the 2013 winner of the James Beard Best Chef award, has a knack for getting the most flavor out of ingredients in the simplest way possible. See for yourself this holiday with his Thanksgiving recipe for monkey bread.


  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Brioche dough (recipe follows), refrigerated for at least 8 hours
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking Directions

    In a small saucepan, combine 2/3 cup of the cream, the brown sugar, corn syrup, the 6 tablespoons butter, and the salt. With the tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, then add the bean itself. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

    Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the toffee sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Divide the brioche into 20 golf ball–sized pieces and roll. Put the melted butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Dip each ball in the butter, roll in the sugar mixture, and arrange in the baking pan so you end up with 4 rows of 5 balls each.

    To proof the dough, loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough is light and has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. (The dough is very forgiving, so don't worry if it rises longer. You can even leave it out overnight.)

    Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. Bake the monkey bread until cooked through and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve the bread straight from the pan. It's so much more fun to pull it apart by hand instead of cutting it. The bread will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.


    Makes one 1¼-pound l oaf

    1/3 cup warm whole milk

    2 teaspoons active dry yeast

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 tablespoons sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    2 large eggs

    12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the bowl and pan

    1 egg, lightly beaten with

    1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

    In a very small bowl, combine the milk and yeast. Let sit for several minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and mix briefly. Add the eggs and the milk mixture and mix on low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and the hook as needed, until a smooth ball forms, about 4 minutes.

    With the mixer on low speed, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, allowing each piece to be incorporated before adding the next; this can take up to 30 minutes or so. The dough will likely creep up the hook during the process; stop the machine occasionally and push it back down.

    After all the butter has been added, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the hook. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Increase the speed to medium-low, then to medium, and knead the dough until it is smooth, shiny, and completely homogenous and comes away from the sides of the bowl, 10 to 15 minutes.

    Butter a medium bowl. Turn the dough out into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

    Reprinted from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook. Copyright © 2013 by Gramercy Tavern Corp. Photographs © 2013 by Maura McEvoy. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.

    This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, brioche

    Course: Side Dish

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