Yield: 8 to 12 servings
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus rising
For the dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (about 105 degrees, or just warm to the touch)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, more for greasing bowl
2 eggs, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
For the sauce
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, more to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled to room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar or maple sugar, or a combination of dark brown sugar and white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
About 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, more for garnish (optional)
In the bowl of a mixer, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm milk.
Add the remaining warm milk, sugar, salt, butter and eggs.
Add 5 cups flour and mix with paddle attachment until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Switch to hook attachment and knead on low speed, adding flour if necessary until dough is stiff and slightly tacky, 10 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with butter and turn dough out into the bowl.
Flip over dough so greased side is up, cover loosely with a kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Make the sauce: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add sugar and stir constantly until simmering and the butter has melted. Pour in cream (it will bubble up) and cook until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and add cream and pinches of salt to taste. Turn off heat and set aside.
Brush a medium or large Bundt pan, preferably nonstick, with some of the melted butter. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix well.
Rewarm the caramel sauce over low heat.
Once dough has doubled in size, turn it onto floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.
Cut or pull off small pieces, each weighing about 1/2 ounce/15 grams, and roll them gently into balls.
Set aside on a baking sheet.
To assemble, dip about half of the balls in melted butter, roll in sugar mixture, and fit them snugly into the pan, occasionally adding a sprinkle of pecans.
Pour about a quarter of the sauce over the sugared dough balls. Repeat with remaining dough balls, pecans and another quarter of the sauce.
Reserve the remaining sauce.
Cover and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until puffy. (The monkey bread can be made up to this point up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated overnight.)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden and bubbling around the edges.
Let cool on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then invert onto a platter.
Meanwhile, reheat the remaining caramel sauce and drizzle or spoon it over the top of the monkey bread until it runs down the sides. (Any remaining sauce can be passed at the table, for dipping).
Serve warm or at room temperature, with hot coffee or tea and plenty of napkins.