Ultimate Sticky Buns

We always keep our eye out for new recipes to try, and Bon Appetit magazine is one of our favorite sources.  This month’s issue caught our eye as soon as we took it out of the mailbox because of the incredible looking sweet roll that was on the cover.  We decided then and there that we were going to make a batch, and while things didn’t go exactly as planned, we were still pleased with the final product.  We usually test drive a recipe a couple of times before we put it up on the blog, but I decided to post this one after just one attempt – the buns came out delicious, and I learned a lot about how to make a “master sweet dough,” which was the basis for the buns and several other recipes in the issue.  Let’s start with our dough:

Master Sweet Dough
from the April 2012 issue of Bon Appetit

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces, room temperature

Heat the milk to 110 degrees, then stir in 1 tablespoon sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and allow it to bloom – about five minutes.  Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.  Combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add milk mixture.  With mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time.  Once the butter is incorporated, run the dough on medium speed for five minutes to knead.  Butter a bowl and put your dough into it, turning so that the dough gets good and coated with butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge for two hours – the dough will slowly rise, and the chilling makes it a lot easier to work with.

The Topping

  • 1 3/4 cups pecans, chopped and toasted for 10-12 minutes in a 350 oven
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly until the mixture turns a nice golden brown and takes on a glossy sheen.  Pour one cup of the glaze into your pan – Bon Appetit says use an 8x8x2 baking pan, but we had to go with a larger one.  I don’t see any way to fit these buns in an 8x8x2 pan, we had a rather sticky time transferring our ingredients from one pan to another.  Tilt the pan around to coat the sides with the glaze, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the toasted pecans over the bottom.  Now you’re ready to make the rolls.

In your stand mixer, cream one stick of butter with 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.  On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out into a 16×9 rectangle, and spread the butter and sugar mixture evenly over it (see above right).  Roll the dough into a log shape.  Using a knife, cut the log into 9 even pieces.  Place the pieces into the prepared pan, and coat with an egg wash of one egg beaten with a teaspoon of water.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes.  The tops may brown faster than you’d like, so a foil tent might be necessary to keep this from happening.  Once the buns are baked, let them cool for 5 minutes and then top them with the remaining glaze and pecans, and finish with a light sprinkle of sea salt.  These are incredibly rich, but guaranteed not to be the dry, boring sticky buns you’ve had in the past.  Enjoy!

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