Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 14, 2012

Brioche Pecan Sticky Buns

This sticky bun recipe produces finely textured, soft-doughed, pecan heavy rolls dripping caramel. You know you want them.  However–and it’s not a small however–this recipe is anything but quick and simple. On the other hand, you can make these pecan sticky buns well ahead and toss the loaded pan in the freezer to have for whenever you want it. And after all, no one expected the ultimate American breakfast pastry to be a walk over. Right?

Leave yourself plenty of time to perform the various steps of these pecan sticky buns. The sticky bun dough has an overnight ferment/rise before it can be shaped and put back in the fridge. I generally start  the sticky bun recipe on Friday evening to have it without fuss (I know, I know) on Sunday morning. The brioche dough is modified from Baking with Julia. The sticky topping is adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.

Brioche Pecan Sticky Buns

Brioche Dough, Stage I: The sponge

1/3 cup, 2.67 oz or 5 1/3 TBSP, rich milk, or almond milk

1 pkg, 2 1/2 tsp, dry yeast

1 egg

2 cups, 10 oz, all-purpose flour (unbleached works better, of course)

Mix the milk, yeast and egg with 1 cup of the flour in a medium bowl. Once your ingredients are just blended. sprinkle the remaining cup of flour over the doughy mass. Let the sponge sit covered for 30-40 minutes until the flour coating is well cracked from the rising of the sponge beneath it.

Brioche Dough, Stage 2: The dough

1/3 cup, 2.5 oz, sugar–vanilla sugar is especially happy here

1 tsp, scant, salt

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups, 7.5 oz, all-purpose flour (in a humid situation, you may need to use up to 3 TBSP more flour, but don’t use more)

6 oz, 12 TBSP or 1 1/2 sticks, unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (you can use the microwave at 1/2 power for 10 second intervals if you forget or don’t have enough time to get the butter to room temperature the old fashioned way–be really careful not to overdo this. The butter is done when you can make an impression in the butter with your finger)

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer, put the sponge, the sugar, the eggs and 1 cup, 5 oz, of the remaining flour. Mix this all together on low for a couple of minutes. Scrape the bowl well down, and loosen it at the bottom as well. Add the rest of the flour and let the machine run on medium for 15 minutes. You want the dough to come together and then start slapping the sides of the bowl as it goes around. It’s a fairly loose dough.

Beat your butter with a rolling pin, or a wine bottle denuded of its label, until it’s very malleable though not any warmer. It shouldn’t be oily or greasy. If it is, toss it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and try, try again.

With your mixer on a lower speed, start adding lumps of the butter. As the dough starts falling apart, don’t panic. Once you’ve added all the butter, turn the mixer speed up to medium and beat the dough until you hear it slapping around in the bowl as it did before. Think 5-8 minutes for this stage. Stop and clean down the sides and loosen the dough from the bottom of the bowl frequently, so that everything becomes fully incorporated and wholly texturized.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours (maybe more depending on how warm/cool and draft-free your proofing area is). Deflate the dough by lifting it away from the edges of the bowl and tucking it under as you go all the way around. Cover the bowl tightly and let it rise in the refrigerator  overnight.

Now the  dough is ready to be shaped into brioche loaves, or even made into pecan sticky buns. Or you can double wrap it airtight and stick in the freezer for a month. Let it defrost fully (in the fridge overnight) and it will be good to go when you are.

For the Sticky Topping:

3/4 cup packed, 5.25 oz, brown sugar

3/4 cup, 6 oz, organic corn syrup or cane syrup like King or Steen’s

6 TBSP, 3 oz or 3/4 stick, unsalted butter

1 fat pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

2.5 cups, 10 oz, toasted pecans chopped coarsely (but not too coarsely)

Thoroughly grease a 9 X 13 pan and an 8 X 8 pan. Over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the first four topping ingredients until they simmer. Off the heat add the vanilla and pecans. Spread the topping evenly into your prepared pans.

For the Buns:

3/4 cup packed (5.25 oz) brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves, ground

pinch of salt

1 TBSP butter, melted  and cooled

the brioche dough from above

Mix the brown sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl. Lightly flour a rolling surface to about 16 X 24 inches. Pat and gently roll the dough out thinly onto the rolling surface–make it as large as possible without making holes in the dough. Brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle the sugar-and-spice mixture evenly across the dough, leaving 1/2″ (1.5 cm) along the top edge. Press the sugar mixture lightly into the dough so that it sticks.

Loosen the dough from your rolling board with a spatula, working carefully so as not to tear the dough (which is pretty resilient and should hold together nicely if you’re being reasonably gentle). Roll the long edge of the dough up and pinch the seam closed. Roll the dough log so the seam is against your board. Gently stretch and roll the dough log until it’s as close to 3 feet long as you can make it. Cut the log with a serrated knife into 24 even pieces (more than an inch deep, not fully 1 1/2 inches each).

Arrange the buns, 15 in the large pan and 9 in the smaller, so that they have plenty of space on all sides to rise. Wrap the pans tightly and allow the buns to rise in a warm place for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until nearly doubled. Or wrap them tightly and stick them in the fridge for another overnight session–or for however long, so that you wish to bake them within the next 24 hours. Or wrap them tightly, twice, and stick the whole pan in the freezer (allow to defrost overnight in your fridge and rise for 1.5 hours at room temperature before baking).

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Bake the rolls on the middle rack of the oven  for about 20-25 minutes. They’ll be puffy and golden brown. Let the buns rest in the pan for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. Invert the buns onto a larger serving platter, and quickly scrape any topping remaining in the pan over the buns. Serve immediately to general rejoicing.


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