"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baking Adventure 11: Seductive Apple-Cinnamon Sticky Buns

These sticky buns are intensely delicious. I guarantee that they won't last long in any household after baking them.

Saddled between their rolled, buttery dough layers is a filling of tender bits of fresh, chopped, tangy-sweet green apple submerged in an addictive and decadent, ginger-enriched, cinnamon-loaded, brown sugar sauce. The buns are topped with an amazing brown sugar glaze made with cream, butter, honey, vanilla bean paste, and moist, molasses-kissed, golden-brown sugar.

Indeed, these buns are rich. In my view, that's the way they are meant to and should be for the best flavor.

I innovated a bit on the recipe listed much further below. For one, as you can see, I used green apple in my filling.

The buns came out just the right texture, coloring, and flavor; in other words, they were a domestic success!

I snapped a few more photos of the buns in a pre-bake, post-bake/pre-glaze, and post-glaze mode. Next time, I will take some photos during the dough prep stages. I really had an interesting but fun time with the process.

When I first made the sticky buns, I realized that my mixer never came with paddle attachments, and I don't have a bread machine at home that I can just casually walk away from, after having dumped all of the dough ingredients in to blend. Lazy luxury, for sure. But somehow, less fun and engaging.

So, I did use my hand mixer to blend in the eggs, salt and buttermilk, once preparing the dough, but I realized that I could not use my hand mixer beater attachments for developing the dough. I figured that before there were any of these gadgets around, historically, dough for sticky buns and rolls were made by hand, so why couldn't I make them that way? I did just that, after adding in the rest of the ingredients for the dough. I watched the clock in my kitchen and began shaping and preparing the dough in my hands thoroughly for a good 5 minutes until it became a very nice texture that looked just about ready for the next stage of prep: rising. Now, looking back, I am glad I resorted to using my hands because my time with the dough was more intimate and appreciative.

I had some concerns about whether or not my dough was going to come out well, however. I thought that if my dough began to rise as it should in the next 2 hours, then that was a sign of being on the right path. My dough surely began puffing up with proud arrogance and I felt a twinge of joy at the sight. Little pleasures like these are always so wonderful and fulfilling, simple as they are.

As the dough size swelled, I busied myself with preparing the filling and the glaze. I had decided earlier on that I'd make an apple-cinnamon filling, although the recipe didn't call for the company of apples. Basically, you can use any filling you want. I had several ideas in mind, especially very unusual ones, but wanted to start with this classic flavor profile, since it was my first time making sticky buns at home, and not in a workshop setting. I also used vanilla bean paste wherever vanilla extract was referenced in the recipe. I find the flavor of vanilla bean paste to be more potent and aromatic because the seeds are still intact. The best choice of all would be to use vanilla bean pods, but I currently do not have a supply of them.
Inside Info: Here's a great resource to order them -- Vanilla Saffron Imports. This site was referred to me by a good friend, and with vanilla being the second most expensive spice in the world, the prices offered are a good deal here.
Once the filling was complete and the dough was rolled out and flattened, I spread the filling generously over the surface of the dough, leaving an inch bare at the top. I carefully rolled the dough into a log and began cutting slices and putting them in the baking pan, which I had some poured glazed into. I had prepared a 12 x 12 x 2 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving flaps of parchment paper on each side, so that I could immediately lift the congregation of buns out of the pan once they were eventually done baking. I didn't bother leaving space between each bun because I like when they are loving, social, and affectionate with one another. In my world, sticky buns should stick together and then be pulled apart.

I also added the rest of the glaze to the tops of the buns, 10 minutes after being out of the oven. This is when they truly came alive and began to bellow out a chorus of sticky, sugary allegiance.

Recipe: Adapted from Gourmandise Desserts

Sticky Buns

Basic Yeast Dough:

3 Eggs
2 tbsps heavy cream
1 tsp salt 
4 cups flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 pouch yeast
6 tbsps (3/4 stick) butter, melted

  1. Place the eggs and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until the eggs come together (when the yolks and whites are unified). 
  2. Whisk in buttermilk
  3. Using paddle attachment, add heavy cream, butter, sugar, and yeast and mix with paddle until combined.
  4. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until just combined. 
  5. Add the remaining flour and mix for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread a thin coat of oil in a large bowl and place the dough inside
  7. Wrap the bowl in plastic and place in a warm area. Let the dough double in size, about 2 hours
  8. Coat your rolling surface with a thin coat of flour. Roll out the dough in 18 x 14" rectangle
  9. Spread desired filling on the dough, leaving a little less than an inch up top to seal
  10. Roll up the dough from the bottom to top and seal on top by pinching the seam
  11. Cut rolls in desired thickness with a sharp knife or scissors, and place at least 1" apart in baking pan. (I decided to place the buns close together)
  12. Wrap baking pan in plastic and let rise for another 1.5 hours
  13. Baking at 350 until puffy and golden brown around the edges
  14. Top with desired glaze, 10 minutes after removing buns from the oven

Glaze For Sticky Buns

1.5 sticks of butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey (experiment with honey flavors or use agave nectar)
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt (not necessary if you are using salted butter, so I left the salt out)

  1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pot. Cook over medium heat until very warm, but do not boil
  2. Pour 2/3 of the glaze on the bottom of the pan. Reserve the remainder of the glaze to pour over the buns once they are baked.

Filling For Sticky Buns

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt (again not necessary if using salted butter)
1 tbsps melted butter
1 tsp ginger

  1. Melt the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a fork
  2. Spread the filling over the dough and roll up as directed

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