I’m not really sure why they call this type of bread a monkey bread.
I suggested that maybe it’s because when everyone is picking at the delicious pieces it resembles the way primates groom each other and eat their findings. I was dumb enough to mention this while my brothers were around so, of course, they gave me their opinions and since my idea was already borderline gross they had to outdo it. One of them said that it’s because it looks like a giant monkey brain like on Indiana Jones and I won’t mention what the other one said. Thank you boys, that’s just the mental picture that will make everyone want to eat this. How appetizing. Sorry, TMI.
Yes, well, whatever the case may be I don’t think that any of those are the reason for the name but who really cares? Monkey bread is the bomb-dot-com-diggity-do-dah, and this one is stuffed with creamy mozzarella cheese and slathered in pesto!
Have I ever mentioned that I am obsessed with pesto? Well, I am, and did you know that you can make all kinds of different pestos? I’ve tried a few kinds, like one with cilantro, one with chestnuts, and they’re all delicious but I’ve yet to find one that can beat the classic basil. I do sometimes substitute the pine nuts though, because I can be cheap. As you may know, pine nuts are pretty pricey so I prefer to use walnuts instead most of the time.
I usually try to keep pesto ready in the fridge for when I need it, but it never lasts very long because I always find something that it would go perfect in and then use it all. Take this pull-apart bread for example, it would have been great on it’s own but the pesto takes it to the next level of amazing and makes it irresistible!
Usually you’d do this in a bundt pan but the only one I have has all kinds of odd grooves and the one and only time I’ve ever attempted monkey bread in it was a crumbly disaster slash pan scrubbing nightmare. I used a springform pan this time instead but I still didn’t take it seriously enough and I had some stickage as you can see. I would usually redo it and get a picture-perfect one but I just couldn’t wait to share this with you guys, so please forgive my unperfect bread. Hopefully it will help you all by making you grease your own pans better than I did.
Oh, and I just thought of another possible reason for the name of this thing! Ha ha, maybe it’s because everyone runs around like crazy monkeys when they realize it’s gone! I think you should make two if you plan to avoid gorilla fights.
Mozzarella Stuffed Pesto Pizza Monkey Bread
Basic table bread will never seem the same after you've tried this over the top monkey bread that's simply packed with flavor!
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil, plus more for greasing pan
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 8 ounces mozzarella style cheese (such as Daiya or Miyoko's)
- 2/3 cup prepared pesto or recipe follows
- 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce for dipping
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Stir water, sugar, salt, and yeast together until yeast is dissolved and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in oil until combined. Add flour and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for a 2 to 3 minutes until dough is smooth and resilient. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and place in warm place to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease a bundt pan (or see note) very well with oil. Press dough down and divide into tablespoon sized balls. Stuff each ball with 1 square of "mozzarella" cheese and roll dough around it.
Dip each ball into pesto and place in prepared pan. Continue dipping and stacking balls until all are in pan then bake for 40 to 55 minutes until top is a deep golden brown.
Serve hot with warm marinara.
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until nearly smooth. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 4 months.
If (like me) you don't have a bundt pan you can use a 10-inch springform pan and an inverted 6-ounce ramekin in the center. This is great because it gives you a pre-warmed bowl for the dip. Just be sure to grease the outside of the ramekin as well as the pan, very well.