Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TWD: Pecan Sticky Buns

Does the item above look like it contains a lot of butter?

I always have box upon box of unsalted butter in my fridge, but lately, my unsalted butter purchases are just unprecedented. And I'll just put it out there - it's this group's fault. But I'm okay with it. As is my family. As are my husband's coworkers, who seem to be reaping the benefits of my baking efforts the most.

This week's assignment brought us pecan sticky buns. These bear no resemblance to anything store-bought, the book boasts. I tend to agree. Though would I make them again? Read on.

Step 1: Brioche

I love a multi-step recipe, especially as due to limited nap times, I usually need to separate a recipe into parts anyway. So while I was not intimidated by the amount of time this recipe would take, in particular the making of the brioche, what worried me a bit was the actual warning that my mixer would become extremely hot. Does anyone else remember this incident? What more could my poor little mixer take?

But I digress.

In order to complete the pecan sticky buns, we needed to first make brioche, a rich buttery pastry-like dough. The first step in making the brioche was to make a "sponge," which involved mixing warm milk, yeast, an egg and sprinkling the mixture with flour. I left the sponge to sit for a half hour, and at this time, the flour was to crack, which would indicate that everything was moving along as it should.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw definite crackage.

Next up was the nervewracking your-mixer-will-get-hot step. I added sugar, more eggs and more flour to the sponge, and set the mixer to varying speeds for over 15 minutes straight. (At this point I also prayed that the loud whir of my mixer would not wake Sammy up.) Because the pin holding the top of my mixer in tact is not so secure anymore, I literally had to hold down the top of my mixer the entire time.

I next stamped a stick and a half of room temperature butter (my rolling pin came in handy here), and added it to the mixture. My mixer was certainly put to the test (it definitely got hot!), but came out unscathed.

When all the mixing was finally complete, my dough came out soft and silky looking - like buttah, one might say.

I then left the dough to rise until it doubled in size, which took 2 1/2 hours. Once that was done, I punched the dough down and left it in my fridge overnight.

Step 2: Pecan Sticky Buns

Overall, I found the way this recipe was written to be a bit confusing at times. We were first directed to divide the chilled dough in two, roll it out (why am I never able to roll dough out into a perfect rectangle?) and dot each half with 3/4 stick of butter. We were then to fold the dough in thirds and roll it out again, taking care not to roll over the edges.

Um...? Roll the dough out again the same way we first rolled it out? Or just roll over it? And how do you not roll over the edges? Perhaps I was just reading too into it and thus making things out to be more complicated than they actually were.

(It would have helped if I photographed the folded dough, but at that point I was concentrating too hard on deciphering the recipe.)

After chilling the dough for another 30 minutes, I sprinkled a sugar and cinnamon mixture, and then a cup of chopped pecans over 3/4 of the rolled out dough and rolled it up into a log.

Another 45 minutes in the freezer, it was ready to be sliced, topped with three pecans, and placed pecan-side down in a cake pan lined with an entire stick of butter and light brown sugar, which would caramelize around the buns.

(That white substance you see above? Yup ... butter.)

My buns seemed a smidge on the small side, either because of the size of my logs, or because I again was perplexed by the instructions to press each slice down, flatten it, and then round it out. At this point, I just figured, eh, why bother. 

The buns were allowed to rest at room temp for two hours, until they "grew to touch," (which mine did not do until they were baked), and then baked for 40 minutes.

I served the pecan sticky buns at brunch on Mother's Day. Confusing recipe aside, they came out delicious, as I knew they would. However, I did find the taste of butter to be a bit overwhelming, as did a few other of my tastetesters. I chose to follow the instructions as written as I like to do for all items I bake for the first time, but would definitely cut down next time. 

Though in all honesty, I'm not sure I'd go through the trouble of making these again. It was a fun recipe to try out, but the length of time and mixer effort required, as well as my new butter-induced heightened cholesterol levels might cause me to think twice next time. 

Make sure you check out this week's host blogs, where you'll also find the recipes in their entirety - Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Cookies on Friday.


  1. I agree..looking and eating the end result you never imagine the amount of butter that went into them!! loved the recipe...but it will be a while before i make them!!

  2. With this recipe we surely gained experience (and probably weight as well)
    I've cheated on the butter and the brioche was still yummy (it needs more salt and sugar, though). Unfortunately I did not like the topping: too sticky.
    I'll remake the "modified brioche" for sure.

  3. Your mother's day brunch table is beautiful! Glad your mixer made it and that Sammy slept through it all!

  4. Sooooo good I hope mine looks as nice as yours once it's out of the oven!!

  5. They look great! They really to rise quite a bit. More than double I would say.

  6. I bet they looked beautiful on your Mother's Day table. We really enjoyed these, but wouldn't make them very often. At least, not all in one go. I think it's worth having some frozen brioche dough set aside.

  7. Nice! I loved the way these looked before they were sliced. All those layers=yumminess.

  8. Our experiences were very similar!! I enjoyed your post! I love the picture of the butter showing in the roll...I tried to get that one but wasn't as successful as you! They were very good but I agree, I liked the challenge of making them but can't imagine really doing them again...we will have to see! :)

  9. I stress out if I have less than three ponds of butter in the fridge - although, I have noticed that I am now keeping a couple extra pounds in there, just in case...
    Your rolls look great!