Monday, April 25, 2011

Sticky Sticky Buns

Sticky Sticky Buns.  No comma.  

Have you ever tried these?  These are the famous sticky buns from the bakery, Flour, in Boston.  I had the privilege of tasting these babies about a year ago at Flour.  

The real Sticky Buns from the Flour bakery in Boston
I wouldn't label myself as a "sticky bun person".  Or a "caramel roll person".  Or a "pecan roll person".  I mean...who would really?  That would be pretty embarrassing.  No, but seriously...if no one told me to try the sticky buns at Flour, I never would have.  

Bonus points for me.  I did try them.  And they are perfect.  As a die hard caramel lover, these complete me.  

The Goo

What makes them special is that they are made from a rich and decadent Brioche dough.  To make the dough, you need to throw every ounce of trust into your stand mixer.  To be honest, after minute 27 of my mixer chugging along, I doubted its endurance.  I was actually just waiting for it to blow up.  I put on my apron, hoping that would somehow spare my life.  And although the housing motor arm thing was at least 480 degrees.  Celsius.  It survived!  It did it!  So what I am trying to say here is:  you are going to need a stand mixer to pull off this Brioche dough.  And you will also need some patience and 5 eggs.  And just a tiny bit of butter.  

Now, I have to admit that I messed up the recipe.  There have been several corrections to the original printing of the Flour cookbook.  None of which I was aware of until today.  And what a bummer that one of the corrections was to this very (famous) sticky bun recipe.  In the book, it says to use an entire batch of Brioche dough listed on page 73.  Unfortunately, it should say use half the batch.  I used the whole batch.  The recipe below is the correct version.

There are really worse things in life than having monster sticky buns.  Lucky for me, I also used the wrong yeast and I live in Colorado, so I didn't get much rise out of them before baking.  Even with the multiple mistakes (even though they may have cancelled each other out), these were still amazing.  They tasted just like I remember.  Not sure why, but even with twice the dough, these weren't super dense or heavy.  Killer.

Speaking of killer, that is the reason I did not wait to try these again with the right amount of dough and the right yeast.  These are an annual breakfast treat.  But I love them and couldn't wait that long to share them.  But at the same time, I didn't want to risk my slender/tan winter bod.  Ya know what I mean?

These will make you happy.  Share them.  Be a good person.

Sticky Sticky Buns
by Joanne Chang, Flour

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (110 grams) honey
1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80 grams) water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Basic Brioche Dough, (1/2 the recipe below)
1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (100 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped

To make the goo: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that's ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 2 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche dough into rectangle about 16 by 12 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef's knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.  The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 10 hrs.+, Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Brioche Dough*

2 1/4 cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh
cake yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold water
5 eggs
1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*Note: You will only need half this recipe for Brioche dough for the sticky buns. However, I used the whole batch of dough and they still turned out wonderful.

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  5/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5


  1. I've had the sticky buns at Flour also...and really they are just the most perfect things ever. And yours look like a fabulous replication!

  2. Flour is only a mile from where I live! I love the sticky buns and the chocolate brioche. I'm getting hungry just looking at your photos!


  3. Mm, they look like heavenly cinnamon rolls drizzled in caramel sauce~ Great job!