Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pecan Sticky Buns

1. I have NEVER successfully made any sort of bread/pastry before. Never. Ever. Well, banana
bread...and pizza crust, but really that doesn't count at all.

2. Not only was I successful, and several people can attest to the tasty goodness, I spent a majority of Friday night and Saturday morning creating this masterpiece.
(Time + Energy = I right?)

3. There always has to be some other third thing....I have thoroughly convinced my husband that I DESPERATELY need one of these (even though this tasty treat will only be made for Valentine's Day, ahem, new tradition. I still intend to use it for other things). If any of you dear friends ever want to enter contests for me to get one, please feel free. Otherwise, we'll just save up $7 a week until my birthday, so maybe we can afford one (my birthday is in December, by the way).

However, my husband and I agree, this will only be done once a year: Valentine's Day. New tradition. I will show love to my family by making them some Sticky Buns. I love saying sticky buns. It makes me laugh each time.

I guess I should share this recipe. Well, dieters, still you have a chance to stop reading. I mean it. This is "the best pecan sticky buns I've ever had" (my dear friend of Natalie of "Perry's Plate"). She tested them. I made her. (And her husband, and her mom and dad, and we can't forget the toddler). I don't know how copyright stuff works with recipes. I will tell you the ingredients, where I got it, and my own words, but honestly, BUY THIS BOOK (Cooking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan). I borrowed it last week from my mother-in-law because the pictures were making me salivate.

WARNING: You are about to embark on a two-day journey to pecan sticky-bun bliss. It is worth it. Do not let the time commitment intimidate you. I sacrificed a lot. This was worth not getting to bed until after midnight. It was worth waiting until 2pm to get a shower the next day. I don't even want to know how much fat is in each serving, but you know what, that was worth it too. If I can make a pastry masterpiece, anyone can. You just really need one of these. If you don't have one, borrow from someone (Thank you Heather!). Hand-held mixers are not allowed on this journey. Sorry.

Pecan Sticky Buns
contributing baker Nancy Silverton
as written by Dorie Greenspan
Baking With Julia (p. 43, case you wanted to know)

First, you must make the Brioche.

"The Sponge"
1/3 C warm whole milk (100-110 degrees). If you don't drink whole, buy it anyway.
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 Large egg (I pre-beat my eggs, they blend better that way)
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the milk, yeast, egg, and ONE cup of the flour together in a heavy duty mixer using a spatula until everything is just moist (do not overmix). Pour the rest of the flour on top. And now leave it alone. For 30-40 minutes. It sounds silly, but do it. Set the timer and walk away.

When you come back, the mound should look "cracked."

Now, add the following to the mixture, and put a dough hook in place in the heavy duty mixer (I envy those of you who already own these luxurious creations).

The Dough
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp kosher salt (I used sea that Kosher?)
4 large eggs, lighty beaten
1 C unbleached, all-purpose flour

Mix these in for about a minute or two on LOW.
While mixing, sprinkle in:

1/2 C flour

When that is fully added to the mix, put the speed up to Medium. Scraping the sides now and then, keep mixing this for about 15 minutes. The dough should coil itself around the dough hook, and if by the time you've reached 7-10 minutes, it still doesn't seem thick like that, add up to 3 TBSP. more of flour (I did). Make sure you give it the full 15 minutes because Dorie said so, and she is an awesome baker/cook/chef, so I'd listen.

Warning: If the mixer gets hot, don't freak out. Just don't do multiple batches in succession, let it rest. (Plus, you will need a rest too, I don't know how anyone would manage doing more than one of these at a time...bread needs your full attention).

Now it's time to add the butter. Dorie's advice is critical. The butter must be soft, at room temperature, but not greasy or oily (DO NOT melt it). I really didn't understand that until I did this. Take the butter that is slightly soft, and smash it up. She recommends spreading it on a smooth surface first, or beating it with a rolling pin.

Add in:
1 1/2 C butter (at room temp)

At med-low speed, add in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Your dough will take on another life at this point, but continue scraping the sides, it will all make sense soon. When you've added all the butter, mix for 5 minutes on medium high. If after the 5 minutes, the dough hasn't returned to the hook, coiling as it did once before, add in a TBSP of flour. (I did).

Butter the inside of a large bowl. Take your wonderful mound of dough, put it in this butter bowl, wrap it tight with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2-2 1/2 hours. This is the first rise.

Second rise: Deflate the dough by putting your fingers under it and moving it, inch by inch, away from the bowl, then putting it back in the bowl to sink (DO NOT punch). Wrap tightly again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours minimum or overnight (overnight was my choice).

Next Day:

Take the dough mound (which will seem pretty bulky) and divide in half. Put half back in the bowl and wrap it up, and return it to the fridge.

Lightly flour your working surface (Dorie says "cool marble is ideal"...I just used our wood kitchen table). Roll out the dough to an 11" x 13" rectangle (I am the imperfectionist and mine was about 10x 14...) and about 1/4 inch thick. It is important to do this next step rather quickly because the heat from your hands could make it rise more (which is why I used a spatula instead of my hands).

3/4 stick of butter (for each 1 1/2 sticks total), softened at room temp

Spread the butter over the surface of the dough (do this a little at a time, or just do flakes. It might be an idea to use a grater or peeler and shave the butter all over the surface). Now fold the dough in thirds, like you would a piece of paper for a business letter. This is best done if the long side of the rectangle is horizontal. Fold in the right side first, then the left to cover it. Now gently, roll this out a little so it is a bit wider, but do not crush the folds you just made (or in other words, do not roll it so much or so hard that it returns to the form of the rest. You want these folds). Do not roll over the edges.

Fold and roll once more (even though it will be more narrow this time). Wrap this roll in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. REPEAT with the other dough from the fridge.

Filling (read below how this is done):
1/4 C sugar (I actually mixed white and brown...but this just says sugar)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg, lighty beaten
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Remove one roll from the fridge (work one at a time) and roll it out again to 11" x 13" (seems tricky, but do it). Use a pastry brush and spread the beaten egg all over the dough (obviously, you won't use it all up). Spread half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the dough, and place 1/2 C chopped pecans over almost the whole surface of dough, leaving the top 2 inches or so bare. Now roll it up like a log, wrap with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer. Repeat with other half of dough. Freeze for 45 min. - 1 hour.

While the logs are in the freezer, prepare your pans. You need 2 round pans (9 inch rounds), but I actually used 3 pans, and they were all full. I don't know how that happened. I'm an imperfectionist, and I am fine with my mistake. For EACH pan you need to take 1 stick of softened butter and smash it to the bottom, and 1 C packed light brown sugar sprinkled evenly over the butter.

Remove the logs and cut into 1 1/2 inch wide slices. Again, the recipe yields 14 servings, but somehow, I ended up with 22, so I needed another pan (hmm, maybe I rolled it the wrong way). My mistake resulted in many taste-testers, so I am sure no one had any problems with that.
For each roll, place the flat side on your hand, and squash it wide. Re-shape it, if necessary, so it is still round. Place 3 pecan halves on top of each, and place FACE DOWN in each pan (each pan can fit about 7 rolls).
Do this with all the dough.

Let the pans sit, uncovered, to rise at room temp for 1/2-2 hours. From my experience, I am normally am impatient person, but I highly recommend letting it sit for the longer time option whenever an option is given.

Sometime during the rise, set your oven to 350.

Now you can see why the fold and roll step was so important. Look at those luscious layers!

Hopefully at the end of your 2 hours, your sticky buns will be touching (oh I'm glad JD doesn't place comments on our own blog). HORRAY, it is time to Bake.

Place a cookie sheet wrapped in foil on the level below your rolls to catch any drippings.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden. (Watch on this because my oven did it a little faster, but all ovens are different).

As soon as you take them out of the oven, flip them onto a serving dish. (Easiest way is by placing a plate ON TOP of the pan, and flip the whole thing over. Less mess). This must be done immediately because otherwise the caramel goodness will harden and be worthless. We would not want that to happen. This is the secret, I believe, to a wonderful sticky bun. Let the stuff bake in the gooey, then flip the gooey to drizzle down. Oh, it's wonderful.

Serve warm, but not hot. If they are too hot, the caramel will burn your mouth, and you won't even be able to enjoy how amazing these are. They should all be eaten the same day that they are made, but by all means, share with friends and family. (They are amazing, but you don't want to consume all that butter alone, do you?)

1 comment:

  1. "sticky buns will be touching"....bahahaha! You're so cute! These look fantastic!