When two bakers traded bread recipes…

They had roll reversal.

I got very ambitious and decided to make sticky buns. My mom loves sticky buns. She is forever on the hunt for the perfect bun. And, so far, every time I’ve made her one, they’ve been good but, “not it.” She has been searching for a certain something. A tenderness of bun. A level of stickiness. The nut to sticky caramel to cinnamon to dough ratio. I don’t exactly know what her criteria were, but everything was close but no cigar.

So frustrating.

I got to try out a bunch of sticky bun recipes, but even I had to admit that they just weren’t hitting the right spot. Something was always missing. We tried them with a hint of orange. More cinnamon. Less cinnamon. More nuts. Pecans instead of walnuts. Yet the perfect sticky bun remained elusive.

My parents went up to Boston a few months ago and stopped at the famous bakery Flour. There, my mom had one of the sticky buns. And she said it was damn close to what she wanted. Well, that got me closer to attaining sticky bun nirvana, so I opened my Flour cookbook, and a few other handy cookbooks to compare.

What I came up with is, I have to say, the best bun I’ve had to date. The dough was buttery and tender, with a hint of crispness, despite being completely slathered with the ‘goo’. The nuts were crunch and their crannies sucked up all the delicious sweetness from the sauce. the sauce itself was divine. The recipe I’ve included makes enough that you can drizzle it over ice cream (Heavenly) or eat it right off the spoon. There’s definitely enough left over to put it to other uses.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s Brioche dough, and adapted Flour’s ‘Goo’ to suit my tastes. I think the combination came out great. It was just sweet enough, it had just enough crunch, just enough stickiness, just enough cinnamon….classic.bun17

Don’t be put off by the coconut oil. You don’t taste it. It just rounds out the flavor, somehow.

These were fantastic the first day. Honestly we could have eaten the entire tray in one sitting. But, we restrained. They were good the second day. And ok the third. They were better on the second and third day warmed up, of course. I mean, who eats a cold sticky bun? Heathens.

But, after three days, they felt a bit stale and flat. So…looks like you’ll just have to eat them quickly. Darn. I know. Life is hard.

The Ultimate Sticky Buns: A Collaborative Effort

Ingredients

For the Brioche (From Smitten Kitchen)bun11/3 c whole milk
1 tsp instant yeast
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Goo (adapted from Flour)bun51/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 c coconut oil
1 1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 c honey
1/3 c heavy cream
1/3 c water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Method
  1. Make brioche: Whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved.bun2
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together fl our, sugar, and salt.
  3. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture, and mix at a low speed until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Raise the speed to medium, and beat for 10 minutes; the long mixing time creates the soft, stretchy strands brioche is known for.
  4. Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing the dough between additions.
  5. Now switch to the dough hook, and knead at low speed until a silky- smooth dough forms, another 5 minutes. Add the chocolate and zest, if using, and run the machine until it is mixed into the dough. (You can keep using the paddle attachment, if you don’t have a dough hook. I did, and it came out fine.)
  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm spot for 2 hours, until almost doubled.bun4 bun6
  7. While the dough rests, make the Goo.
  8. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and coconut oil over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).
  9. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar.
  10. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)bun7
  11. After the 2 hour initial rise is up, make the buns.
  12. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about a 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.bun10
  13. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. bun11
  14. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.bun12
  15. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide.
  16. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface.bun9
  17. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft.bun13 The buns should be touching, and almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.bun14
  18. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.
  19. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.bun15
  20. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.bun16
  21. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking.
  22. To reheat, warm the buns in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.
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