Easy Yeast Rolls (Or Monkey Bread)

"This is a wonderful recipe to do with children. I have done with kids as young as 3 and as old as 9. This is also a good recipe for anyone who is intimidated by yeast breads. The recipe originated with Jane Zukin's Dairy-Free Cookbook, which helped me not panic when we figured out that my daughter is severely allergic to milk protein. Monkey Bread is somewhat traditional in the South. It is called Monkey Bread because you eat it like monkeys - tearing off chunks to eat."
photo by Sstever47050 photo by Sstever47050
photo by Sstever47050
photo by Sstever47050 photo by Sstever47050
photo by Flowers and Pearls photo by Flowers and Pearls
photo by Lori Mama photo by Lori Mama
photo by Sequined Seahorse photo by Sequined Seahorse
Ready In:
1hr 30mins
16 rolls




  • Heat the water to between 105 and 115 degrees F.
  • If working with kids, explain that this temperature will wake up the yeast but not kill it.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large bowl.
  • Stir in the sugar, oil, salt and egg.
  • Stir in 1 cup of flour until smooth.
  • This is officially known as a"sponge" since it does not have all the flour of the final dough.
  • Cover with a dishcloth and set in a warm place (over a bowl of warm water, in a slightly warm oven, in the microwave beside a cup of warm water, etc.).
  • Let rise for 15 minutes. NOTE: If the sponge is not bubbly and increased in volume, either the yeast was bad, the water was too hot, or the water was too cold). THROW IT AWAY - it will not make palatable bread! If you are sure that the water was the correct temperature (and you did not set the bowl to rise in a hot oven (smile)) get some new yeast.
  • This is useful time for cleanup and setting up for kneading.
  • Grease a square 9 inch pan.
  • If you want to make monkey bread, use a ring pan or a bundt pan and do not grease it.
  • Stir down the sponge (ooh and aah over how much it has grown first!) and add 1 1/2 cups flour.
  • Blend until well mixed.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • Knead 3 minutes adding flour if the dough is sticky.
  • If using the square pan, divide the dough into 16 pieces (good math exercise!), and shape quickly into balls.
  • If making monkey bread, divide the dough into 32 pieces (more math) and shape quickly into balls.
  • For the square pan, arrange the balls in the pan and smear tops with softened margarine.
  • For the monkey bread, roll each ball in melted margarine before arranging the balls in the ring or bundt pan.
  • Cover the pan with the dishcloth and set back in the warm place (described above).
  • Let rise for 25 minutes (depending on the timing with kids, I have been successful with as little as 20 minutes and as long as 30.) Preheat oven to 425°F (move the pan first if that is where the dough is rising, of course).
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown.
  • Remove from pan to a rack or plate to cool.
  • To make them even better (and more fattening), brush the tops with melted butter.
  • If you made monkey bread, eat the bread like a monkey by pulling off chunks.
  • The monkey bread is also excellent if you roll each dough ball in cinnamon sugar after rolling in margarine and before placing in the pan.
  • This makes a good breakfast bread.

Questions & Replies

  1. Can these be made ahead and frozen?


  1. Yummy! I shouldn't have promised to share! These are too good to share.<br/><br/>The Cinnamon/Sugar mix I used was :1 cup sugar; 2 teaspoons cinnamon; 1 cup brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, arrange in between dough balls when placing in tin) Baked 350 for 35 minutes
  2. These could not be any easier! I love how little time they took. I made them sweet and added coarsely chopped pecans between layers. I took them to a baby shower and only 3 pieces were left. I am making a second batch tonight for my family! They weren't ooey gooey, so if you want them that way, sprinkle extra cinnamon/sugar between the layers (which is what I plan on doing tonight). These were much better than ones made with canned biscuits!
  3. I was surprised how fast these rolls were for a yeast bread. They were tender and fluffy. I wanted to make dinner rolls, so I put 3 balls each into muffin tin cups. They were the perfect compliment to sopping up pot roast gravy. I would make again, though in my experience I needed to add almost an extra half cup of flour to make the dough workable.
  4. This was the perfect bread addition to my soup dinner. I used my Kitchenaid mixer to make this. Never heard of Monkey Bread until just recently. Lovely texture and fun to just pull a piece off at a time. :)
  5. These were easy to make & tasted good. My 4 year old enjoys them. I didn't know how big to make the balls & didn't make them large enough, so we had tiny little rolls, but they were still good.


I am a Mom of 2 kids - one of whom has a severe milk allergy. For years, I taught cooking in her school so that the recipes would be safe for her. This taught me to be inventive with recipes - and led me to recipezaar. Now I am working full time as a reading tutor so cooking in on a back burner, but still something I love to do.
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