The Cake Slice August 2011: Hungarian Coffee Cake a.k.a Monkey Bread
I was really excited when this cake won this months vote. I’d never heard of Hungarian Coffee Cake before, but apparently it is also known as Monkey Bread which I have been seeing for years popping up on various blogs. Its something I’ve always longed to try, yet never got round to, so now was my chance.
The idea behind the strange name of Monkey Bread is that the cake is made up of balls of dough, which are rolled in cinnamon sugar, before being stacked into a Bundt tin and baked. The rounds of cinnamon crusted dough can then be pulled off in their ball shapes, like a sort of tear and share bread. I assume the logic behind the name is that you can pick at it with your fingers, like a monkey. Click here, here and here to see some great examples.
I had high hopes for this cake but I ended up being quite disappointed. I’m not sure if it was a bad recipe or if I did a bad job at adapting it to be gluten free but it ended up more scone-like in texture than doughy balls of cake/bread. Looking at the recipe, I strongly suspect it’s the recipes fault. The cake part itself contains no eggs and no sugar. The dough is rolled in a cinnamon sugar and topped with a sugar/butter sauce, but the balls of dough were a little bland, making them appear even more scone-like. I’m sure its meant to also contain yeast.
Once baked, the cake was very crumbly, causing it to break and collapse slightly when I released it from the tin. It also disintegrated when I tried to take a bite, meaning I had to eat it with a fork and spoon rather than my fingers. The ball shaped pieces of dough also expanded and merged together, meaning it was impossible for me to break off a clean piece, it sort of fell how it wanted, crumbling away like an old ruined castle.
Despite its crumbly texture and poor appearance, the actual flavour of the cake was delicious. I used dried cranberries and sultanas in place of the raisins which added bright little dots of ruby colour throughout the dough and provided a lovely tangy bite against the sweet caramel topping. By mistake I also used salted butter instead of unsalted in the caramel topping, which meant every bite was a mix of sweet and salty, which worked brilliantly. I think this was one of the best bits about the cake.
The cake itself had a dense textured crumb, but was very moist with a slightly grassy flavour due to my use of Teff flour. I enjoyed it and its scone-like texture which made a change to the usual soft and light cakes. I actually ended up devouring over half of it myself in only 2 days! It was just so easy to keep picking at it, especially as chunks kept falling off, just waiting to be picked up.
So this months cake had mixed success. In terms of Monkey Bread it was a complete failure, but it did however produce a….mountainous giant scone thingy…that I enjoyed eating so all was not lost. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe as it stand though.
Click here to see what the other Cake Slice Bakers thought.
Hungarian Coffee Cake – a.k.a Monkey Bread
(Recipe from KeeCakeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
100g butter, melted and cooled
170g light brown sugar
100g butter, cold
360g plain flour (I used 200g white teff flour & 160g brown rice flour)
1 tbsp gluten free baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
(1 tsp xanthan gum – if GF)
50g walnuts (I used pecans)
70g raisins (I used mix of cranberries & sultanas)
Method – Topping
Whisk together the melted butter and light brown sugar. Set aside.
Method – Cinnamon Dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a nonstick 12cup/8inch Bundt pan and dust with flour.
Combine the caster sugar and cinnamon in a zipper top bag or small bowl and set aside.
Method – Cake
Cut the butter into 1/2cm dice. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and, with an electric mixer mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture just comes together, adding an extra tablespoon or two if the mixture is too dry.
Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to scoop up balls of dough and transfer them to the zipper top bag. Shake the bag to coat the balls with the cinnamon sugar.
Place the coated balls of dough in the prepared pan, sprinkling the walnuts and raisins over them as you go. Pour the melted butter brown sugar mixture over the cake. Bake until the cake is firm and well risen and the caramel is melted, about 35-40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter and serve immediately.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 1 day.
Makes one 12 cup/8 inch Bundt cake