This Cheesy Savory Monkey Bread is made with a super soft Tangzhong dough which is rolled in pesto then arranged in a pan. The Monkey Bread is covered with cheese and left to rise for the perfect savory monkey bread recipe that is perfect for any occasion!
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Table of contents
- Savory Monkey Bread
- How to make Monkey Bread
- How to make a Tangzhong based dough
- What is Bread Flour?
- Monkey Bread with Pesto
- Small Batch Monkey Bread
- Can this recipe be made ahead of time?
- How to reheat monkey bread
- FAQ for Savory Monkey Bread
- For more recipes using Filippo Berio, check out:
- Recipe For Savory Monkey Bread
Savory Monkey Bread
Hi hi! Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here the last wee while - we have been so busy unpacking our new house! It's hard to get work done when there's the equivalent of a fun new shiny toy which needs the garden weeded but we are getting there!
I am just popping in to share the recipe for this cheesy pesto savory monkey bread. I made this a whole bunch of times when I was testing it and it's just so, so good. It's super simple to make but it is a fun wee twist on a garlic bread or cheese bread, and perfect to make to accompany a meal. I love adding pesto to bread recipes - this savory monkey bread is made with a grilled vegetable pesto and is drowned in parmesan before rising and again before baking. It tastes a bit like a pizza bread. I love it a lot and I hope you do too - making homemade monkey bread is easy and fun!
How to make Monkey Bread
The process for making this savory monkey bread is super simple. The dough is super soft and fluffy, and just goes so well with the pesto and cheese.
- Make the monkey bread dough. This Tangzhong based dough is similar to the one I use for my small batch cheese buns, and is egg free. I used Filippo Berio's Original Olive Oil in the place of the butter in the recipe and it worked great and gave an amazing flavour to the dough.
- Leave the dough to rise - I do this all in one day as it is easy to do, but you could absolutely make the dough ahead of time and do the first rise in the fridge overnight.
- Divide and roll into balls - portion out the dough and roll into balls. I went for 20g per dough ball. Pop them into a bowl.
- Add pesto and coat - add your pesto into the bowl with the dough balls and mix well to coat.
- Arrange the dough balls into your prepared pan. I like to make sure they are one flat layer. Snuggle them in there if you need.
- Add the first layer of parmesan cheese and leave to rise. This means you get some cheese in between the balls of dough for optimum cheesiness.
- Rise the monkey bread then add a second layer of cheese and bake!
How to make a Tangzhong based dough
The Tangzhong method that I used for this cheesy monkey bread dough is an Asian Technique, and involves cooking part of the flour and water in a bread recipe to form a thick paste, or a roux. The process of making the Tangzhong gelatanises some of the starch in the flour. This means the flour is able to absorb a lot more water, and also holds onto it throughout the dough making process. This gives an incredibly soft bread which stays soft a lot longer than other bread does.
Tangzhong (which is a Chinese word) is made by cooking the liquid and flour together, while the Yudane method (which is Japanese) involves adding boiling liquid to the flour and leaving it to set overnight. The benefit of using a roux means that the bread dough can stay 'lean' - so very little added fat etc but still stay extremely tender and soft.
I scaled back my burger bun recipe and removed the egg to avoid any awkward egg dividing. I also used an olive oil base rather than butter, which added amazing flavour to the dough. The soft dough works perfectly for this monkey bread recipe.
What is Bread Flour?
This cheesy monkey bread recipe calls for Bread Flour (also sometimes called Strong flour or High Grade Flour in other places). The role of this is important especially in this Tangzhong dough which is quite soft and needs the gluten for strength. Bread Flour is higher in protein than All-Purpose and is often made with a harder variety of wheat. This means that it develops gluten better and gives the dough strength. This is particularly important in a soft dough recipe.
I have tried to make this dough with All-purpose flour and it did not go well. The bread flour is super important here so I really recommend getting some. If you can't find it where you are, you can buy gluten flour and add some to the dough to help develop strength. I haven't tried this so i'm not too sure on the ratios but it should work fine.
Monkey Bread with Pesto
The best part about this pesto monkey bread is how easy it is to put together. Making the dough takes a little effort (which your mixer does most of), then the rest is super easy. I am all for a 'shortcut' when it involves a high quality product, and Filippo Berio's Grilled Vegetable Pesto is perfect here. Their Grilled Vegetable Pesto has a base of eggplant, zucchini, pepper and basil, and it's super delicious and well balanced. All I had to do was toss it in with the dough balls and pop them into the pan.
This recipe would work great with their other pestos in their range too (the tomato ricotta one is incredible and so is their sundried tomato pesto). The grilled vegetable worked so, so well and is a really fun twist on a traditional pesto. I also served this savory monkey bread alongside Filippo Berio's Spicy Tomato Pesto for dipping, which complimented it so well! I highly recommend grabbing one of each if you see them in your supermarket. They are incredibly versatile and perfect to have in the cupboard if you ever need a quick and delicious addition to a meal.
Small Batch Monkey Bread
This cheesy monkey bread is a small batch monkey bread recipe - I made it in an 8" (20cm) square pan. Monkey Bread is usually made in a bundt pan or something similar. I wanted to try and scale it back, and it worked great!
If you wanted to do a larger batch of this you could double it and pop it into a 9"x13" (23x33cm) pan instead and it would work great! The dough rises up a lot so I wouldn't want to double up the layers of dough balls.
Can this recipe be made ahead of time?
I usually make this recipe all in one day, but you could certainly make the dough ahead of time and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. This dough does have quite a long rise time on it in comparison to other doughs, so I recommend leaving it on the counter for 30 minutes before putting it into the fridge to finish rising. This gives the dough a chance to kick start the rising process.
I haven't tried doing the second rise overnight or in the refrigerator but I think it would work just fine. If you do that, I would leave off the cheese and add it all on just before baking so it doesn't get soggy. You may need to bring the monkey bread out of the fridge and leave it to sit to finish rising and come to room temp before baking.
How to reheat monkey bread
If you make this recipe ahead of time and want to reheat before serving, I would suggest covering the pan with foil and placing in a 350°f / 180°c oven and refreshing for 10 minutes or so.
FAQ for Savory Monkey Bread
Do I have to weigh out the dough balls?
You don't have to if you don't want to, but we all know how I feel about using your scale. If you eyeball it you run the risk of the dough balls being different sizes and baking at different rates. You don't have to be too pedantic about getting them bang on 20g - just something around that range would work best.
How do you sub active yeast for instant?
Substituting active dry yeast for Instant yeast is a 1:1 swap: you just have to go about it slightly differently and include a step where you activate the yeast. After making the Tangzhong, add the cold milk to the bowl along with the sugar and mix, then check it isn't hotter than lukewarm. Then, add the yeast and leave it for about 10 minutes to activate. Once it is foamy, you can proceed with the rest of the recipe.
What tools and equipment do you use?
You can see a full list of all the tools I use here
Can I use other cheese for this recipe?
Yes, mix it up however you like - it would be delicious with some cheddar cheese. You could also finish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as parsley or oregano.
For more recipes using Filippo Berio, check out:
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Answers to your baking questions
Over the years, many of you have asked me questions about:
- baking in grams
- adjusting oven temperatures
- what kind of salt to use
- and many more!
I've curated and answered them all for your easy reference in this frequently asked questions post!
Recipe For Savory Monkey BreadPrint
Savory Monkey Bread
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
This Cheesy Savory Monkey Bread is made with a super soft Tangzhong dough which is rolled in pesto then arranged in a pan. The Pesto Monkey Bread is covered with cheese and left to rise for the perfect savory monkey bread recipe that is perfect for any occasion!
- 20g bread flour
- 95g whole milk
Monkey Bread Dough
- 180g whole milk, cold
- 20g sugar
- 1 ½ (5g) tsp instant yeast
- 270g bread flour
- 20g milk powder
- 1 tsp (3g) kosher salt
- 45g olive oil (I used Filippo Berio Original)
- 100g Filippo Berio Grilled Vegetable Pesto
- 30g freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Combine the milk and bread flour in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens into a paste. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add the cold milk and mix to combine, checking with your finger that it is not hotter than lukewarm (the cold milk should cool the hot tangzhong enough). Add the sugar, yeast, milk powder, salt, flour, and oil. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and fit with the dough hook.
- Mix the dough on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic and clearing the sides of the bowl, about 12-15 minutes. Don’t freak out, as it is sticky - if you have made it by weight you will be fine. Set a timer and walk away from the mixer if you need. If after that time it really isn’t coming together and you’re worried, add flour a teaspoon at a time just until the dough just comes together.
- The dough should be smooth and elastic, and pass the windowpane test.
- Turn the dough out onto a surface and flour or oil very lightly if needed to bring into a tight ball with a bench scraper. Transfer to a bowl greased with olive oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Place the dough in a warm spot and rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 ½ hours.
- Grease an 8" (20cm) square nonstick pan with olive oil.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 20g portions. Roll each piece into a ball and place into a bowl.
- Add the Filippo Berio Grilled Vegetable Pesto and gently stir until the balls of dough are completely covered with pesto.
- Transfer the balls of dough to the prepared pan, arranging so that they sit in a single layer.
- Cover the dough balls with half of the cheese (15g), sprinkling it evenly over the top.
- Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise in a warm spot until almost doubled in size, approximately 30-45 minutes (this depends on your environment). This can be slightly hard to tell, but look for how far it rises up the sides of the pan. You can also leave one little patch slightly exposed so you can do the press test. When dough is properly risen, it will spring back lightly leaving a little indentation when gently pressed with a finger.
- Toward the end of the rising process, preheat your oven to 350°f / 180°c.
- Sprinkle the monkey bread with the remaining 15g of grated parmesan.
- Bake the monkey bread for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is baked, springs back when pressed, and the cheese on top is golden brown. It can be slightly hard to tell when the bread is done because of the cheese - If you like you can also take the internal temperature, which should read at 190°f / 90°c (this is an additional measure of doneness).
- Remove the monkey bread from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature. Refresh briefly in the microwave before eating.
Keywords: Monkey Bread, Pesto, Cheese, Savory baking, pesto bread
I love that this is small batch. Thanks so much for the recipe!
So fun to make. Who knew that rolling tiny balls of dough could be so fulfilling? The bread is light and fluffy and wonderful to eat. Bonus that you get to pull it apart with your fingers. I'm eager to try this with other pesto like things since it's such a terrific carrier of flavors.
Loved making this! Absolutely delicious and I could eat the whole thing. My first time using a dough hook rather than hand kneading so it took a bit longer to come together as I hadn't turned it up high enough but it got there eventually when I realised my error. I used an aubergine based pesto and I'm looking forward to trying with other flavours.
Never heard of monkey bread until I found it here. Excellent recipe! Adaptations were needed because I live in a small village nd couldn't get all the ingredients. I made a green mango atchar pesto and used a mature cheddar. Fantastic small batch, base recipe that adapts easily. My ideal type of recipe. Thank you for your continued efforts to make our lives simply and delicious