Saturday, March 5, 2011

Embrace The Stickiness!

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When it comes to baked goods, stickiness is our friend. Stickiness lends itself to gooey caramel, rich chocolate, sweet glazes and the deep, rich flavors of warm fruit - so put away any reservations you may have about getting your fingers dirty and DIG IN!

This recipe does take some time, between the actual dough and then cooking the caramel sauce, but believe me it is completely worth it when you bite into one of these sticky buns and the fragrant sweetness fills your mouth while the warm caramel drips all over your fingers...I'm making my own mouth water - IT'S SO STICKY I'M GONNA DIE!!!

I found this recipe in an issue of Fine Cooking magazine and have been wanting to try it for awhile. It is the perfect way to use those bananas you have sitting around that are just past their desired peel-and-eat ripe stage. Instead of whipping up the expected banana nut bread, I went for banana sticky buns. I think my brother-in-law ate 5-6 of them in the span of 48 hours, so watch out - they can be super-addicting! I doubled this recipe with great results. If you don't double it, it makes 12 sticky buns.

Overnight Banana Sticky Buns w/ Pecans

Ingredients for Dough
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 packet yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (at least 100 degrees)
- 1 large mashed banana (very ripe)
- 2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients for Filling
- 3 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Ingredients for Caramel-Pecan Sauce
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 large ripe banana (coarsely chopped into 1" pieces)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans


Make the dough for these buns first - combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast and stir in the warm water until just combined. Cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes - it will just start to rise a little bit and smooth out.

2. Using a dough hook, stir in the banana, melted butter, sugar, egg and salt until well combined. Then stir in the remaining flour to make a stiff, shaggy dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it becomes smooth and easy to handle (about 5-10 minutes), adding more flour to the mixture if you need it.

3. Work the dough into a large ball and place it in a well-oiled or buttered bowl, turning so every side of the dough is coated with oil or butter (I used veg. oil) before covering with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour until the dough doubles in size.

4. After you do your "happy-happy the yeast is working and the dough is rising!" dance, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle - about a 16x11 inch shape works best. I can never seem to get the dough into a rectangle, so mine usually looks like a mutant oval...oh well - it still works fine! Spread the surface of the dough with the softened butter, combine the ingredients for the filling and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the buttered dough.

5. Roll up the dough lengthwise, pinching the final seam to seal. If it doesn't want to seal, brush on a little bit of water - that always does the trick! Once it is rolled well, slice it into 12 pieces, about 1 1/4-inch pieces. Set them aside while you make the caramel sauce.

6. I have never worked with caramel before, so this sauce was a little daunting...I was surprised - it really was much easier than I thought! The key really is to watch the sugar while it cooks every second, it can burn so quickly so don't take your eyes off it! Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a medium saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook without stirring until it begins to caramelize/turn a light amber color.

7. Gently swirl the pan to brown the syrup evenly, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped banana and cold butter. Next, pour in the heavy cream and return it to the heat (LOW) to smooth it out. Whisk in the vanilla and salt, stirring until smooth. Strain the sauce to remove the banana chunks and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

8. Butter a muffin tin well and spoon about 2 tbsp. of the caramel sauce in each muffin cup, then sprinkle the pecans evenly among the cups. Place the dough slices over the sauce, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

9. The next day, remove the pan from the fridge and let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the sticky buns for 20 minutes - until the tops and edges of the buns are browned. I also put a layer of foil under the pan to catch any syrupy drips so they didn't spill into the oven.

10. Immediately invert the pan onto a baking sheet, replace any caramel and pecans that might have fallen off when you flipped the buns over. Let them cool for about 5 minutes, then dig in!

1 comment:

  1. These look awesome! Just might have to veganize this one.