Thursday, April 28, 2011

Decadent Sticky Buns

I started making these sticky buns planning to have them for Easter brunch, but they didn't get done and we ended up going out for brunch anyways, so I actually finished them a few days later.  I am not kidding when I say these are decadent... I am sure they are no worse for you than any other sticky bun, but you really realize it when you are making them yourself and see all the butter and sugar (and more butter, and more sugar) that goes into them.  They were totally over the top delicious and are a great treat for a special occasion, but I can't imagine eating these too often.  Plus, they are pretty labor-intensive so I can't imagine making them all the time either.  I would like to note that that is low fat greek yogurt in the photo above, not whipped cream, however!

I have been mainly making bread from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day recipe lately, so my first thought was to adapt that basic dough to make sticky buns.  I actually didn't have a batch going at the time though, and I came across this recipe in Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe (a delicious breakfast cookbook) and it sounded too good to pass up.  It was fun to really make, and knead, a regular yeasted bread for a change!  I didn't take any decent process photos unfortunately but hopefully you can get the idea from the recipe.  Also, I thought the amount of topping was really pretty excessive, so you could easily halve it (or more) and still have plenty of sticky deliciousness.

Sticky Buns
Adapted from Sunlight Cafe

For the dough:
  • 1/4 cup wrist-temperature water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • About 2 1/3 cups flour
  • nonstick spray
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
For the sticky topping (see note above - I think a half recipe or less would be plenty):
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup or real maple syrup (I used maple syrup)
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts or pecans

To make dough: place the water in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes.  If your butter is hot from melting, mix it together with the yogurt to cool it down, then add the butter/yogurt, egg, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.  Add the first cup of flour and whisk to combine.  Add the second cup of flour and mix in with a wooden spoon.  Add about 1/3 cup more flour, kneading it in with your hands - you may need to add slightly more flour, but the dough should remain soft.  Knead until all the flour is incorporated.  Spray under the dough and on top of the dough with nonstick spray and cover with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm place to rise.  It should rise by half to three quarters, which should take an hour or longer.  You can refrigerate or freeze the dough (in a covered container or a ziploc bag) at this point if you want to finish making the sticky buns later.

To assemble the sticky buns: spray two 8" or 9" cake pans and a clean, dry countertop with non-stick spray.  Spray your fist with nonstick spray also and then punch down the dough and move it to the countertop and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  While the dough is resting, melt the butter for the topping in a small saucepan over low heat, then add the sugar and stir until it melts.  Add the maple or corn syrup and stir until combined then remove from heat.  Pour the topping into the two prepared pans, dividing it equally, then sprinkle the chopped nuts in the pans as well.

Adding more nonstick spray to your hands if needed, stretch the dough into a rectangle measuring approximately 10" x 16".  Use a rubber spatula to spread the softened butter on the dough except for a 1/2" border at the edges.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the buttered surface.  Roll up the dough along the long edge to make a long log and pinch the dough together to seal where it overlaps.  Cut the rolled dough log into 16 equal slices (although I think I only got 13 or 14 out of mine, and it was fine), and stand them on end in the cake pans, on top of the topping and nuts.  If you had extra cinnamon sugar (I did), you can sprinkle it on the ends of the buns.  Cover the pans loosely with a clean dish towel and let stand in a warm place for an hour - the buns will rise by 1/2 to 3/4 in size.  15-20 minutes before the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350.  Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the tops and edges are golden brown.  While the buns are baking spray a serving platter or a cookie sheet with nonstick spray to keep the finished buns from sticking.  When the buns come out of the oven carefully lift each one out of the pan with tongs and invert it onto the prepared tray/cookie sheet.  Spoon or pour the extra syrup over the tops of the buns (don't worry if it pools up under them).  Wait at least 20 minutes to serve.  These are super delicious if eaten within a few hours but will also keep fine if refrigerated for a few days or if frozen.


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