Thursday, June 24, 2010

Old Grand-Dad Sticky Buns

Mmmm...sticky buns. What a perfect Saturday breakfast for a cold and cloudy June day. These turned out to be our breakfast and a snack with tea (and rum!) later in the afternoon, because when we "gifted" these to our British friends, they promptly invited us for tea later in the day and "regifted" them as part of the spread. Pontlevoy hospitality at its best!
Sticky buns can seem like a big deal, but if you have enough time, they're not that hard. Here's my process:
You start by mixing the flour and yeast and sugar and salt together. With instant yeast, you don't really have to proof it anymore. At least, I've had good luck with this for the past few years (knock wood). Just add the warm milk and water straight to the flour mixture.

OK, with no heavy-duty mixer, I've just mixed this roughly by hand and am ready to knead. Like all of Maida's yeast doughs, this one handles really nicely and doesn't take long to achieve the desired smooth liveliness.

Getting ready for the first rise on Friday afternoon. It was cold that day, so it took a while.

But it finally did rise quite a bit--note the big bubble where my fingerprint had been. Now it's time to get the "sticky" part ready.

Mmmm....brown sugar, pecans, and rum. It's supposed to be bourbon (hence the "Old Grand-dad"), but we had dark rum, and it was very good. Also these are supposed to be baked in muffin tins, but I didn't have 2 big muffin pans available. I think this was easier and safer (less chance of bubbling. Note the parchment paper liner. This was a very good idea!

OK, the dough is all rolled out and buttered, sugared, and liquored up. Note that it's bigger than my Silpat. I need a bigger Silpat. I think there's one in a box somewhere...

OK, got these babies sliced up. I made 16 instead of 24. It seemed like the right size.

Here they are, all lined up and ready to go into the fridge for their overnight rise.

OK, I've stumbled into the kitchen and reached for the camera. Oven, camera, coffee. I'm dedicated to my baking. Note how well these rose even in the fridge.

About half an hour later--coffee is ready, family is starting to stir, kitchen smells fabulous.

These even flipped successfully! Maida says to wait 20 minutes or so before digging in, but you'd better believe we didn't. Yummy fluffy bread dough and sweet, boozy, nutty syrup. What's not to like?

Here's the recipe. Make it when you have some spare afternoon time before a lazy morning.

Old Grand-dad Sticky Buns

1/2 c. (4 oz.) water

1 c. (8 oz.) milk

About 4 c. (20 oz.) unsifted all-purpose or bread flour (I used some whole wheat flour)

1 package (2-1/4 t.) instant yeast

2 T. (0.9 oz.) sugar

1/2 t. salt

1 egg yolk

2 c. (14 oz.) brown sugar, divided

1/2 c. (4 oz.) bourbon or dark rum (I’m pretty sure I didn’t use that much, and you could taste the booze anyway. Judge the amount by taste and how expensive your booze is.)

4 oz. (1 c.) toasted pecan halves or pieces

2 oz. (4 T./1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

2 t. cinnamon

The night before you want to eat the sticky buns, heat the water and milk to just barely warm in a microwave or on the stove. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and water and then the egg yolk and mix until it all comes together. You can do this with the dough hook of a mixer or with a food processor or by hand. If you do it by processor or by hand, you’ll want to knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it is “smooth and feels alive.” Return the dough to the large bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two (depending on how warm the place is), or until doubled.

Get out a 13x9-inch pan (or two muffin pans, if you have them), line it with parchment or foil, and butter that. Sprinkle on half the sugar, then the pecans, then about half the bourbon/rum. Set aside the prepared pan. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured mat or board. Roll it out into the biggest rectangle you can. Then spread that rectangle with the soft butter. Mix the cinnamon into the remaining brown sugar and sprinkle that on the butter. Then roll up the dough like a jelly roll and pinch the ends shut. Using a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss, cut the roll into about 16 pieces. Arrange the pieces in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (If you want to bake these the same day, let them rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes to an hour).

When you get up the next morning, take the rolls out of the fridge and heat the oven to 375. Make some coffee and potter about. When the oven is hot, remove the plastic from the rolls and put them in the oven. You might also consider putting a large foil-covered sheet pan on a lower rack, though my rolls did not boil over. Bake for 25 minutes, until the rolls are nice and brown and the syrup is all bubbly. While the rolls bake, prepare a large tray or cookie sheet by lining it with parchment or foil. As soon as the rolls come out of the oven, put the sheet on top of the pan and flip it over, letting all the syrupy goodness drip over the rolls. Let the rolls cool enough that you can touch them, and use two forks to pull them apart. Enjoy all day.

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