The smell of yeast always brings me back to when I was little. My father made the most delicious French bread, and he used a super cool yeast thermometer that I always considered to be somewhat magical. Other than helping him out occasionally ("helping" as in "probably hindering in some way"), I'd never baked with yeast before. So, yet again, TWD is helping me break new ground! Madam Chow chose Pecan Honey Sticky Buns this week, and man, were they delicious.
The brioche dough was a pretty interesting experience. The dough hook on my KitchenAid finally got broken in, and did it ever! The machine was dancing all around while the dough was coming together. I was a little nervous, but it finally did come together into a ball.
During the rising period, I got a bit worried when little pools of butter began to form around the edges. For some reason, my apartment tends to be inordinately hot. I had to open a few windows and then the dough started looking OK again.
After the overnight chill, I froze the other half of the brioche recipe for a rainy day and got down to business rolling out the cinnamon buns. Roll them out... then spread MORE butter on top (unbelievable amount of butter in this recipe), and then the cinnamon sugar. My glaze (sans pecans, since A. and I both think they ruin a good sticky bun) was already melted and waiting in the pan.
After I cut the buns, I arranged them on top of the glaze for the second rise. I put them in the oven, although my whole apartment is so warm I guess I didn't really need to. Anyway, here's the video... (hopefully this one is a bit better than the madelines!)
After they rose and then baked, I flopped them out onto the serving plate and... voila! Yummy, gooey sticky buns. Sooo delicious.
Apologies to the coworkers who have to have the day-after sticky buns... although I wouldn't say no ;)
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 16 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (195 g) light brown sugar Note: I used dark brown, so the weight might be more
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup (80 g) honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces) Note: I omitted this
For the Filling:
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (40 g) light brown sugar Note: dark brown again
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). Note: I used a nonstick 9x13 baking pan.
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.
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 Note: I still got 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 Note: I heated to 350 F since my pan had a dark finish.
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.
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 (490 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
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. 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.
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. 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 and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
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.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.
--end of recipe--
As always, check out all of the other entries over at TWD!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008