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Sweet, sweet monkey

Monkey Cake! Also known as Monkey Bread and Pluck It Cake. I’ve been telling everybody who asks that it’s called Monkey Cake/Bread because you pluck at it and pull it apart in the fashion of a monkey (or group of monkeys). It’s not a strong hypothesis, but it is backed up by Wikipedia, and that’s pretty much the gold medal for accuracy as far as this blog is concerned.

This cake is rapidly becoming M’s party piece. He made one for me to take into work for a morning tea, and I had people making special stops at my desk to compliment me on its fantasticness. We made a couple to take to a party, and we had people pushing through the crowd towards the table saying “Is there a cake out here? Someone said it was the most awesome cake they’d ever had and I had to try it!” This is a seriously tasty cake. Be warned.

In principle, it’s incredibly simple and beautiful. Actually, in practice it’s incredibly simple, too, although the first time you make it can be a little time-consuming. The original recipe (by which I mean the recipe by which M and I first discovered this heavenly creation) calls for refrigerator biscuits, which caused some furrowed brows. We don’t have them in Australia. We don’t even have a close approximation, so we had to spend some time extensively researching these so-called refrigerator biscuits.  Turns out they’re a bit like scones, but with yeast, and the dough gets stored in tubes in the refrigerator, hence the name. Turns out “biscuits” is American for “scone-y dumpling-type things”.  The recipe says you should chop up your refrigerator “biscuits” into chunks and proceed from there, but we had to take a step backwards and prepare our own “biscuits”, as follows (taken directly from M’s personal transcript):


  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 packet instant yeast (these are usually about 3-4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or just regular milk with a tbsp of lemon juice added)


1.  Dissolve the package of yeast in the warm water and set aside.

2.  Combine the flour, soda and melted butter in a bowl.  Give it a mix
and rub the butter into the flour until it has a consistency like
breadcrumbs.  I’m very lazy so I use the bread maker to do this.

3.  Add the water/yeast to the dry ingredients and stir in.  While
mixing, add the buttermilk a little at a time until the whole thing
forms a dough.

4.  Knead the dough until smooth (bread maker again…).

A sexy dough.

A sexy dough.

After chopping the “biscuits” into walnut-sized dealies, we proceeded hastily to the sauce.

If you’re expecting to be delayed at all, do pop the “biscuit” dough into the fridge, covered in Glad Wrap. You can even keep it overnight, if necessary.

The sauce is dead easy:


  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 170g butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar


1.  For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and gradually stir in
the brown sugar.  If you find that the butter and sugar keep
separating, turn down the heat and add a small splash of milk.

2.  Add the cinnamon.

3.  To assemble the whole thing, take a greased bundt cake tin and
spread half of the dough balls along the bottom.  Pour half the
sauce over the top of them and give it a bit of a poke with a spoon
to make sure that the dough balls are well-covered by the sauce.

4.  Repeat step 8 to add another layer of dough balls, pouring the
remaining sauce over them.

5. Bake in a 180 degree oven for around 40-45 minutes.  When it’s done
the top layer of dough balls will be golden to dark brown.  Remove
from the oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes before upending
the bundt cake tin onto a plate.

Oh, and you really, really, really need a bundt cake tin for this — they’re those fancy, flutey, domed ring cake tins that you can make fancy jelly in. A regular solid cake tin will only create a cake with a mushy centre.

I know this post’s photos aren’t really up to much — I took them all with my awesome little camera, but I may have been a few sheets to the wind. But trust me: this is a seriously delicious cake.

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