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Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

American Classics: Challah Monkey Bread

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[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

I've written about my love of monkey bread before. It's a family favorite and a dish that regularly makes an appearance for special occasion brunches. But I've recently had a brainstorm that's caused me to rethink monkey bread completely: Challah. Light, fluffy challah would make an amazing base for monkey bread. After some hours in the test kitchen, I'm forsaking all other monkey breads for this one.

As with any monkey bread, fluffy balls of yeasted dough are dipped in plenty of butter, then rolled in brown sugar and baked in a Bundt pan to form interlocking layers of a puzzle-like cake. But here's the thing about challah monkey bread—every single piece is like that perfect gooey center of a cinnamon roll (the cinnamon roll filet, if you will.)The dough has a certain lightness and softness yet still has a nice chew to it.

Monkey bread is meant to be eaten with your hands, but the problem is there's no defined portion because every little cinna-nugget tastes like you need another one and when you take off one piece, well, you have to even it up again. If you've made New Year's resolutions, I'm sorry, but this is worth breaking them for. I highly recommend making it for a crowd. You probably won't want to share this monkey bread, but you'll feel better if you do.

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered literary agent by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie, a Midtown Lunch contributor, and co-author of New York à la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks. You can follow her on Twitter at @BlondieBrownie.

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