Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sticky Buns

Mmmmmm.... sticky buns.... one of the best ooey gooey tasty indulgences ever, if I may make so bold a claim, and not as hard to home bake as one might think.  No, I'm not talking about one of those jack-in-the-box for adults tubes of dough that you buy in the store, pop open while trying not to scare yourself, and stick in the oven.  I mean from scratch, let the dough rise and make your own sugary glaze type of home baking.

The original Bon Appetit recipe for these sticky buns can be found here: The Ultimate Sticky Bun. I've also copied the recipe below, marked of course with my own adaptations and changes. Before you get started, you should know that this isn't a quick or clean home bake, so be prepared to be in and out of the kitchen for a few hours at the very least (not counting rising times), and to be willing to clean a lot of dishes (or do what I do and clean as you go - saves on time later).  Especially if this is your first time making these.

As always, I recommend following the recipe the first time around.  After that, have fun and experiment.  This last time I added orange juice to one half of the glaze, rose water to the other half, and used roasted/salted pistachios instead of pecans for the batch covered in the rose water glaze.  Delicious.  Mixing it up in terms of flavors, spices, nuts, fruit, etc. can be really fun and lead to amazingly tasty results, but it's good to know that the recipe works first, and I don't suggest messing with the dough too much (at least for these).








Dough

    ⅔ cup whole milk
    5 tablespoons sugar, divided
    1¾ teaspoons active dry yeast (from one ¼-ounce envelope)
    2 large eggs, room temperature
    2¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus ½ tablespoon, melted

Topping

    1¾ cups chopped, toasted pecans (about 8 ounces) - You can use other types of nuts as well, depending on your personal taste
    ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    ¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    ¾ cup heavy cream
    ⅓ cup honey
    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    ¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)
Lemon zest, orange juice, rose water, etc. also make good optional additions.  For this latest batch I split the topping recipe in half, did one half with roasted/salted pistachios and rose water, and the other half with roasted pecans and the juice from a large orange.

Buns

    ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
    ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
    All-purpose flour (for dusting)
    1 large egg
    Coarse sea salt (optional)

The original recipe calls for an 8x8x2" metal baking pan - I used 2, 8x10x2 glass baking pans and was still hoping the risen buns wouldn't spill over the edges.  The original recipe also says this makes 9 buns - I easily made 12 and could have even made 18 while still ending up with sizeable sticky buns.

Directions:
Dough

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth. Combine flour, salt, and remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add ½ cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.

Brush a medium bowl with about 1 tsp. melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap.

Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.

Chill dough 2 hours.


Topping

Set 1¼ cups nuts aside for buns.

For the glaze I made two half batches, though I think next time I would just make two full batches and figure something out with whatever was left over.  The directions also called for prepping only the one pan, but as I stated above, I use 2 pans and as you can see in the pictures, the risen buns fill up every corner of both.

Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, cream, honey, salt, and orange zest, if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4 minutes. Pour 1 cup glaze into baking pan, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle ½ cup toasted pecans over bottom of baking pan and let cool.


Buns

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Set filling aside.

At this point I split the dough in half.  Roll half of the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle about ¼" thick. Arrange dough on work surface so 1 long side faces you. Spread half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1" border on the side farthest from you.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the remaining chopped pecans over cinnamon-sugar mixture. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll dough into a log, tightening as you roll and patting in ends if they begin to taper. Pinch together the seam where the long side meets the roll to seal. Arrange log seam side down. 

Repeat this process for the other half of the dough.

Using a large knife, cut each log crosswise into 6 pieces (lightly flour knife between slices if dough is too sticky). Turn buns cut side up and gently pat top to flatten slightly. If needed, reshape to form round edges by cupping lightly floured hands around each bun and gently pushing and turning them in a circular motion. Transfer buns to prepared pans, spacing evenly apart (buns should not touch each other).

Loosely cover pans with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes–1 hour (I did an hour and a half, though my house was pretty cold).

Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk egg with ½ tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash. Bake, rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 185°, about 50 minutes (for my oven it took just over an hour, so cooking times vary). Let cool 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over each batch then sprinkle remaining pecans over the top of that. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

Lightly sprinkle sea salt over (I did not do this step, but I have heard from others that a bit of sea salt works really well with this recipe). Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

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