PECAN HONEY STICKY BUNS
To me, there’s no item in the pastry case sexier than the sticky bun. Cloaked in a caramel and studded with candied pecans, the cinnamon bun seems downright dowdy when compared with these breakfast beauties. Like I said in my post for Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches, I’m not big on sweet starts to my morning. But there is something I find irresistible about the chewy-crisp texture and sweet cinnamon aroma of a good sticky bun. And man are these things sweet!
The perfect treat for a large breakfast gathering, few can turn down such a stunning and decadent offering. With Christmas just around the corner, I can’t imagine a more ideal match than a cup of coffee and one of these warm-from-the-oven buns while opening up presents by the tree.
PECAN HONEY STICKY BUNS
From Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Thanks to the expert tutelage of Dorie Greenspan, I didn’t find making brioche dough very difficult at all. It is indeed a time-consuming process and requires a period of overnight resting, but once you have the hard part out of the way, you’ll be left with enough dough to make two large batches of sticky buns. The dough freezes very well and can even be filled, rolled and stored in the freezer for a future occasion. Rolling out the dough can be a bit difficult due to its sticky nature, so make sure to work with it on a well-floured surface. I found that a tightly rolled log produces a more picturesque bun with a consistent texture, so don’t forget to take your time during this seemingly inconsequential step. Finally, this recipe can be halved very easily. Simply reduce the glaze by half and bake the buns in a smaller pan. The results are just as delicious.
GOLDEN BRIOCHE DOUGH
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup barely warm water
- 1/3 cup barely warm milk
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
- Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit the mixture with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a towel over the mixer to avoid being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour, then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-high just until the flour is moistened. You should have a fairly dry, shaggy mass.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like a batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.
- Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
- At this point, you’ll have two loaves worth of dough. Split the dough in two. Set aside one piece for the buns and either freeze the other for another time or bake it in a loaf pan. Butter and flour the loaf pan. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange the logs crosswise in the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan lightly with wax paper and leave the loaf at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. Brush tops with a mixture of egg and 1 tbsp. water. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
PECAN HONEY STICKY BUNS
For the glaze:
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch banking pan.
- To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle the pecans over it.
- To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
- To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point you can wrap the dough and freeze it for up to 2 months.) With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motions, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they’re very ragged, then cut the log into 1-inch buns. Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
- Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- When the buns have almost fully risen, preheat the oven the 375 degrees.
- Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden; the glaze will bubble.
- Pull the pan from the oven. The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. Turn out onto a platter or lined baking sheet.