Warm Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

May 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

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Usually I start my Saturday mornings preparing dough for breakfast bread then running with Biscuit while the dough rises.  However, this morning, when I woke up to dark grey clouds, cold rains and 40-degree Minnesotan “spring” temperatures, I knew I would have to work at mustering up the motivation to get myself outside at all.  I could just imagine going outside with Biscuit and having the rain turn to sleet, sting my face and soak through my pants. This would happen as Biscuit slopped through muddy puddles and pulled me from tree to tree, trying to catch a scent from any previous dog that had stopped at that tree within the past five years.  This did not seem like fun at all, but Biscuit NEEDS his exercise.  I needed something warm, something cozy, something buttery with cinnamon and warm spices.  I decided to make pecan caramel cinnamon buns, in hopes of being able to ignite enough warmth and motivation to start my run.

As I left the dough to rise on top of my warming oven, I still didn’t feel much like venturing outside as cold raindrops plunked and splattered on my kitchen windows and trees moaned and swayed in the wind.  Biscuit moaned too, took a seat on his dog bed and gazed out the window longingly, waiting for his chance to drag me around the neighborhood.

After 40 minutes of rising, I checked on my buns with Biscuit at my heels, eagerly waiting for that something that smelled so good in the kitchen to “accidentally” drop on the floor right under his nose.  The kitchen windows fogged in the newfound warmth of the preheating oven and dispersed the cinnamon yeasty smell coming from the rising dough.

40 minutes after I put the risen bun dough in the oven, I had rich sticky cinnamon buns and a cozy house that smelled sweet and warm.  The caramelized butter and sugar soaked in from the top of the bun and the sweet cinnamon pecan mixture that infused the inside combined perfectly with the boule dough.  The end result was a crisp golden brown bun with a soft buttery inside, and a gooey caramel top punctuated by crunchy pecans.

I sat down to eat a sticky bun at my little kitchen table that faces the small kitchen window that was completely fogged over.  Biscuit looked up at me and let out a low groan in exasperation from not getting any sticky bun morsels and at having to wait so long for his run.  I felt as motivated as I could to step out in the harsh conditions but a little more ready to face the cold, puddles and mud after eating something so satisfying.

Recipe was adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by: Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

I used the boule dough master recipe which had been storing in my refrigerator for about a week, developing notes of sourdough flavor.  The dough is made with more liquid than usual to make it easier to store in the refrigerator weeks before using.  This made the cinnamon bun dough prep much easier and convenient.

Warm Caramel Sticky Buns Recipe

Makes 8 buns

Ingredients:

Caramel Topping

6 tablespoon softened unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pecan halves

Filling

4 tablespoon softened salted butter

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans

Pinch of ground black pepper

Boule Dough Master Recipe

3 cups lukwarm water

1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast

1 1/2 tbsp. coarse salt

6 1/2 all purpose white flour

Dough:

You should preferably store the door for at least a week in the fridge to develop ample sourdough flavoring.  Mix the yeast with warm water and salt.  Add the flour and mix with a spoon or mixer with a dough hook attachment until dough is blended completely.  Put dough in a container and allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse.  Cover container loosely.  Do not use an air tight lid.  After dough has risen (approximately 1 1/2 hours) store in fridge. On baking day, take dough out of fridge and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Take out a piece of dough, approximately the size of a melon, and gently form into a ball.

Toast the pecans:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the pecans on a cookie sheet.  Toast for 7 minutes or until fragrant.

Mix the caramel topping:

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and salt.  Spread evenly on a 9-inch cake pan and sprinkle pecan halves on top.

Mix the filling:

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, pecans and spices.

Roll out the dough, spread filling and roll into log:

Press the boule dough into a rough shape of a rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  You will also have to lightly flour your hands and rolling pin because this dough is extra wet.  Roll out the dough with the rolling pin into a 20 inch by 9 inch rectangle.  Spread the filling evenly on top of the dough.  Start with a long side of the rectangle and carefully roll the dough inwards, making it into a log.  Cut the log into 8 equal sections with a sharp serrated knife.

Prepare the pan and let dough rise:

Put the eight pieces of dough on top of the prepared cake pan with the caramel topping.  Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake:

Pop the buns in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.  Take the pan out and immediately and scrape along the edge of the pan with a butter knife to loosen the edges of the buns.  Invert the buns on a plate and scrape any gooey caramel that’s left on the pan and add it to the topping of the buns.

Eat while still warm, or let cool and then store in a dry place for up to three days.

Enjoy!

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