This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Madam Chow of Madam Chow's Kitchen: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. I hate nuts. People call me crazy, but I don't see what their appeal is. You won't see many things in my blog containing nuts. If a recipe calls for nuts, I may make it, but I omit the nuts. I do like peanuts sometimes, so you will see peanuts here and there in my blog (like when I made the Snickery Squares). But I don't like almonds, I don't like walnuts, and I do not like pecans.
So when I first found out that this week's recipe was Pecan Honey Sticky Buns, I debated whether I would be making Pecan Honey Sticky Buns or Honey Sticky Buns :) I figured the recipe would still be good sans nuts, but since I was planning on sharing these with my coworkers, I decided I would make them with the pecans and just pick the pecans off of mine.
I had already made the brioche dough once for a previous edition of TWD when Peabody chose the brioche raisin snails, so I knew I wouldn't have any problems with the dough. This is one recipe where you'll really want to use your stand mixer. Dorie warns that it will probably burn out the motor of your hand mixer, so if you don't have a stand mixer, you'll need a sturdy wooden spoon and some elbow grease! Several TWD bakers noted that even their stand mixers had some trouble with the dough - some even joked about how it was dancing across the counter and they had to keep it from leaping off! For those using their KitchenAid Stand Mixers for the recipe, rest assured that I never turned my mixer up higher than level 4 (already higher than the recommended maximum speed of 2) and the recipe turned out just fine.
I could not wait to try these as soon as they came out of the oven! All the goo just looked so marvelous! And guess what?! I actually enjoyed the pecans on these! As Dorie points out, the baking process turns these into delicious, caramelized pralines. While I wasn't in love with the pecans, I was able to enjoy the sticky buns without picking the pecans off. For those who know me, that's saying a lot! Oh, and my coworkers loved them - I had one person exclaim, "Mmmmm! These taste like heaven!" Now I really want to try this recipe I saw on the Food Network - it's hard for me to imagine a sticky bun better than Dorie's, but I'm curious to see how it compares.
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces) (I used 1 cup)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
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 over the pecans.
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.
Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
To Make The Brioche:
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 into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour (I did not find the towel necessary). Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
photo from brioche raisin snails
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. (I never put my KA on anything higher than speed 4, since I was worried something horrible would happen - KA does not recommend using it on speeds higher than 2 with the dough hook). 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 batter. Increase the speed to medium-high (again, I only did this on speed 4) and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
photo from brioche raisin snails
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the 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 uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
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 airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) 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. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting Ready to Bake:
When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
Yield: 15 buns