When Atlanta chef and restaurateur Billy Allin was growing up in South Carolina, Christmas morning began with the resounding pop of a can of biscuits, which his family would turn into a favorite holiday culinary tradition—monkey bread. “Our recipe was simple,” says Allin. “Take canned biscuits and cut them into pieces and roll them in cinnamon and sugar.” The resulting ooey-gooey pull-apart pile of cinnamon-sugar dough balls was the perfect pastry for sharing; just pluck still-warm pieces from the whole and pop them in your mouth.
A few years ago at the former Proof Bakeshop in Atlanta, co-pastry chef Abigail Quinn started making a grown-up version for the bakery, and Allin was hooked all over again. “I was like a child running around the kitchen,” he says. “I probably ate ten pounds. It’s just like eating clouds.” Quinn’s version maintains monkey bread’s sticky childhood goodness, made a little more decadent with homemade brioche dough and a splash of bourbon in the glaze. To save time on Christmas morning, you can prepare the dough balls the day before, place them in a greased Bundt pan, and stash in the refrigerator overnight. Serve warm out of the oven, and let the picking party begin. “Food should do many things,” Allin says. “One of which is invoke happiness.”