5 min Read

Sesame Challah Monkey Bread

challah monkey bread on a plate with glaze dripping down

Balls of (not overly sweet) challah are rolled in butter, cinnamon sugar, and a very lightly toasted sesame mix before getting packed into a Bundt pan so it develops a deeply sweet caramelized shell as it bakes. Then you sit around the table and pull it apart with your fingers. A solid win.

Monkey Bread

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ recipe dough from All the Seeds Challah (below), prepared through the first rise


¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whole milk
Pinch of kosher salt


Make the monkey bread: Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with plenty of butter, making sure to get it into all of the corners and crannies. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl.

Pinch off 1-tablespoon pieces of the challah dough and roll them into little balls. Coat each ball in the melted butter, then toss in the cinnamon-sesame-sugar mixture to generously cover. Layer the coated dough balls into the prepared Bundt pan as you go. Sprinkle over any remaining cinnamon-sesame-sugar mixture and pour over any leftover melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 20minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the monkey bread until the top is golden and puffy, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt until smooth. When the monkey bread is done baking, be sure to flip it out of the pan while still hot. Drizzle with the glaze and have at it.

All the Seeds Challah

2 envelopes (41⁄2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1⁄2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
6 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1⁄3 cup grapeseed oil, plus
more for greasing
2 1⁄2 tablespoons kosher salt

Egg wash

1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon water
1⁄3 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons nigella seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons za’atar
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt


In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in 1½ cups warm (not hot) water. Set aside for 5 minutes, until foamy.

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, the remaining ½ cup sugar, the whole eggs, egg yolks, grapeseed oil, and kosher salt. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 minutes. It will still be a little sticky, and that’s okay. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and sprinkle it with a little flour. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, sprinkling it with more flour if necessary to keep it from getting sticky, until the dough comes together and springs back when you touch it. Lightly coat a clean bowl with grapeseed oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough double in size in a warm place, 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 4 Remove the dough from the bowl and break it into 2 even pieces. Keep one piece under a towel while you work on braiding the other.

We’re going to go with a simple 3-strand braid here: Break the piece of dough you’re working with into 3 even pieces. Roll out each into a nice long rope about 1½ inches thick. Place the strands parallel on one of the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. At one end, gather up the ends of the ropes and gently press them together— this will hold your challah together as you braid. Begin braiding by lifting the piece on the right and passing it over the center piece. (So the piece that had been on the right is now in the center.) Take the piece on the left and pass it over the center piece. Continue in this pattern, trying to keep the braid as tight as possible. When you’ve gotten to the bottom of the ropes, pinch the ends together and gently tuck them under the loaf. Cover the dough with a damp towel. Repeat for the second loaf of challah. Let them proof in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the loaves have almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When both loaves have proofed, brush them with the egg wash. Generously sprinkle the pumpkin, poppy, nigella, and sesame seeds and the za’atar over the loaves. (I like doing mine in a diagonal pattern.) Sprinkle the sea salt over the top.

Bake until the top of the challah gets nice and golden (but not too dark or it’ll dry out) and feels hard when tapped with your finger, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Excerpted from Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. Copyright © 2020 by Eden Grinshpan. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

a man carrying two children

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