A Bun By Any Other Name…

posted in: Cooking | 3

When I joined the Daring Bakers in September, the challenge was Cinnamon or Sticky Buns from a book I’ve come to love, Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. We had the choice to make cinnamon buns, sticky buns or both. At that time, the sticky buns seemed like too much hassle so I made them cinnamon. They were good and I was happy.

Fast forward to last week. I decided I was going to give the sticky buns a try so I bought all the ingredients. I put it off until yesterday because I’ve been experimenting with other bread recipes and I didn’t have the time to make the buns too. I was off school yesterday (yes, I decided to take two classes this semester!) so it was as good a time as any. I started the dough in the early afternoon and had warm buns at dinner time.

I previously said the cinnamon buns were good but I can now say they have nothing on the sticky buns! The sticky buns are so much better! They are a-dentist’s-nightmare good.

As with the first time around, I found the dough very easy to work with but again, I had a bit of trouble rolling it tight. I didn’t have to unroll and reroll every bun this time but it wasn’t easy getting them to be fairly snug. I decided to make 8 large buns and that’s the only thing I’d change. Next time, and there will be a next time, I’ll make either 12 smaller buns or even 16 smaller buns. These large buns would have been fine if I had baked them in a larger pan but I crowded them a bit and they are quite tall. Even my husband can’t actually take a bite from top to bottom without squishing the bun. I do have one larger pan, my new All Clad roasting pan but it didn’t occur to me to use that instead. Live and learn.

I made the entire recipe and that’s far too much for just the two of us so I think I may have to bring some to my mom. I’ll only make half the next time around.

Sticky Buns

Days to make: 1
15 minutes mixing
3 1/2 hours fermentation, shaping and proofing
30-40 minutes baking

For the buns:

6 1/2 tbsp (3.25 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp (0.25 oz) salt
3 tbsp (1 oz) powdered milk (DMS)
5 1/2 tbsp (2.75 oz) shortening at room temperature
1 large (1.65 o) egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups (16 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp (0.22 oz) instant yeast
1 cup (8 0z) water
1/2 cinnamon sugar ( 6 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon)

For the caramel glaze:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. To make the dough, cream together the sugar, salt, powdered milk and shortening on medium-high in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast and water. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. The dough should register 77°F to 81°F on an instant read thermometer. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

3. In the mean time, prepare the caramel glaze. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and butter. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fully. Coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with 1/4 inch layer of the glaze. Sprinkle with the pecans and raisins.

4. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don’t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 or 12 even pieces about 1 3/4 inch thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

5. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade bag.

6. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack on the second to lowest shelf.

8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remember that the buns are really upside down so the heat must penetrate through the pan into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked.

9. Cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over onto another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

Note: For the dough, you can use 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cup of whole milk instead of the powdered milk and water. If you choose to do that, skip the powder milk during creaming and add the whole milk in place of the water when you add the flour and yeast.

Peter Reinhart does not write short recipes! This recipe is adapted from his recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I didn’t make any changes, I just made it easy to understand and made it work without having to scan the pictures in the book.

This is Florida so it’s nearly always humid but yesterday was particularly so. I ended up having to use a lot more flour during mixing to get the dough to the right consistency. For fermenting, I turned on the oven light and put the bowl in there, with the oven itself off. That gets the temperature slightly warm and perfect for fermenting and proofing.


3 Responses

  1. Jane

    It’s supposed to rain all weekend (I see the clouds coming), so I think I might just have to make those buns!!!! Comfort food. They look really great and I’ve never made the sticky bun variety as I am quite a fan of cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing.
    Jane (from TFL)

  2. Jeanne

    Holy guacamole – look at the state of those!! Wow. I have always been a sucker for cinnamon/sticky/Chelsea buns… but you aren’t kidding about the length of the recipe! Still, they look worth every single bit of effort 🙂

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