Monkey See, Monkey Dough

The pull-apart pastry that swings both ways

When it comes to monkey bread, pulling apart the little orbs of puffy dough is almost as fun as eating them.

At Euro Pane in Pasadena, it takes seven little balls of brioche to make one of baker Sumi Chang's monkey breads. Each comes topped with a cinnamon-sugar glaze or with a shower of sugary crumbles. At Tavern in Brentwood, pastry chef Breanne Varela dusts the tops of her brown-paper-wrapped breads with cinnamon.

While most monkey breads are sweet, some swing to the savory side. At Truxton's American Bistro in Westchester, the bread rolled in cheddar cheese and garlic butter is a house favorite.

In addition to its sweet versions (pictured), Bottega Louie jumps on the pork bandwagon: Its puffy monkey bread is packed with Nueske's smoky bacon and whole-grain mustard. Whatever is inside–bacon, chocolate or cinnamon–the fist-size, mushroom-shaped domes always have beautiful golden crusts and soft, buttery cores.

And since the bacon bread has been such a hit at Bottega, they'll launch more savory options soon: oven-roasted tomato, spinach, and chorizo and cheese.