Easter Monkey

After failing to make decent hot cross buns I hit upon the idea of  using a spicy, enriched hot cross bun dough and put it into what is known as Monkey Bread. The origins of this bread are a little unclear but what is clear is that this version is an absolute winner. When I made this I almost ate my weight in bread it was so good. However, given the amount of butter and sugar that goes into it, then it should be very moreish – this is not diet food! The only debate in our family was whether the top or the bottom was best. It was a 2-way split for the buttery, caramelised top chunks versus the crispy bottom chunks. It's a 'tear and share' bread so it's very easy to have 'just one more chunk'!


If you enjoy this recipe I would be mighty grateful for a little bit of sponsorship for my London Marathon efforts. Please donate here - https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/IanCumming2 Thank you!





500g strong plain flour

50g butter

75g caster sugar

2tsp cinnamon

1tsp allspice

Seeds from 9 cardamom pods

zest of 2 oranges

zest of 1 lemon

125g sultanas

50g mixed peel

14g (or two sachets) instant yeast

6g salt

1 large egg

240 milk



200g demerara 

1tsp cinnamon

125g melted butter



Maple or date syrup for drizzling



  1. Rub the butter into the flour in a large mixing bowl (of a food processor if you have one.)
  2. Crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add the caster sugar, cinnamon, allspice, crushed cardamom seeds, orange & lemon zests, sultanas, salt and yeast.
  4. Gently warm the milk to about blood temperature. (I use a microwave and an old baby bottle!)
  5. Beat in the milk and large egg. If using a food processor beat on slow for a few minutes before turning to medium for a couple of minutes more. If doing it by hand just keep on kneading for several minutes. You should have a nice stretchy, soft dough that isn't too sticky. Add more flour or milk to help achieve this if needed.
  6. Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a warm spot. This could take an hour or two depending on how warm it is.
  7. Meanwhile butter a cake tin. I used a ring shaped, Savarin tin but you could probably also use a normal round tin about 20 – 23cm in diameter.
  8. Once it has more or less doubled in size knock it back and knead briefly.
  9. Mix the demerara sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  10. Cut off walnut sized chunks of dough. Dip them firstly in the melted butter and then in the demerara sugar. Arrange these in the bottom of the tin.
  11. Put the tin in a large bag (clear bags are best as you can see what's happening.) 
  12. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  13. Once doubled in size, remove from bag and bake for about 30 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, drizzle with either maple or date syrup. Wait a couple of  minutes and then turn it out onto a plate before drizzling a bit more syrup on top.
  15. Allow to cool for a while but make sure you get stuck in whilst it is still warm.