After seeing Joanne Chang’s Sticky Buns featured on the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I knew I had to get them during my trip to Boston last year. Stuck in the predicament of not having a car, I braved the streets of Boston (on St. Patrick’s day, mind you) and power walked 20 minutes to the nearest Flour Bakery + Café. After fighting off ignoring and walking past a group of drunkards, a passing driver, and a homeless man that were all hollering at me unintelligibly, I finally made it to my destination. My heart fluttered as I walked through the door and towards the line of people waiting to put in their orders. There, behind the display case, sat the coveted sticky buns, glistening in all their glory.
Once I took my first bite of the sticky bun, I understood what Bobby Flay was talking about. The rich, tender brioche topped with the sweet, sticky “goo” was simply divine. I bought a few sticky buns to take home that night, and they did not last long between my boyfriend and me. Before we finished the last sticky bun, I was already set on making this delicious treat on my own. Luckily, Joanne Chang’s recipe was readily available on the internet. I love it when great chefs share their recipes and techniques!
I followed the recipe pretty closely. First, I made the brioche dough, then allowed it to proof overnight.
Ingredients for Brioche Dough:
350 g (23/4 cups) all-purpose flour
340 g (23/4 cups) bread flour
11 g (31/2 tsp) active dry yeast
80 g (1/3 cup + 1 Tbs) granulated sugar
1 Tbs salt
120 g (1/2 cup) cold water
5 large eggs
310 g (23/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 15-17 pieces
Mix the dough ingredients: Combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and eggs in the bowl of stand mixer. Using the dough hook, beat on low speed for 6-8 minutes, until all ingredients are combined into a stiff dough. Add the butter, one piece at a time, while continuing to mix on low speed for another 10 minutes. Make sure all the butter is thoroughly mixed into the dough.
Knead the dough: Beat the dough for another 15 minutes on medium speed, then 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed. The dough should be sticky, shiny, and very elastic. If not, mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes until the dough can be pulled and stretched without breaking.
Proof the dough: Place the dough in a container, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight (at least 6 hours).
I checked on my brioche dough the next morning, and it more than doubled in size! I began working on the filling and the “goo”. The original sticky bun recipe calls for only half of the brioche dough. I decided to use all my dough for the sticky buns, so I doubled the sugar in the filling, tripled the pecans, and quadrupled the cinnamon.
Ingredients for Filling:
110 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
150 g (11/2 cups) pecans, toasted and chopped
I made the same amount of goo specified in the recipe, but added extra water. This was enough for both batches and the goo was still sweet and sticky.
Ingredients for Goo:
170 g (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
330 g (11/2 cups) brown sugar
110 g (1/3 cup) honey
80 g (1/3 cup) heavy cream
180 g (3/4 cup) water
1/4 tsp salt
50 g (1/2 cup) pecans, toasted and chopped
Make the goo: Aside from the pecans, add all ingredients for the goo to a medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat to melt and evenly distribute the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Make the filling: Combine all ingredients for the filling in a bowl, and stir to evenly distribute. Divide the filling in half.
Roll the dough: Roll half of the brioche dough into a 10×20-inch rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Sprinkle one of the fillings evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting from one of the 10″ sides, tightly roll up the dough (like a jelly roll). Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. Repeat this step with the second half of the dough and filling.
Proof the filled dough: Mix the 50g of chopped pecans with the goo. Divide the goo in half and pour each half into a baking dish that is at least 9×13-inches; spread the goo to completely cover the bottom of each dish. Place the buns, equally spaced, in each baking dish. Cover the baking dishes with plastic wrap and let the buns proof in a warm place for 2 hours.
Bake the sticky buns: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the buns in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. After a couple minutes out of the oven, invert the buns onto a plate (otherwise they risk sticking to the pan); spoon any leftover goo from the baking dish over the top of each sticky bun.
Makes: 16 large buns
Although they are delicious at room temperature, the sticky buns are definitely best served warm. This recipe was time-consuming, but it was definitely worth the effort. The only adjustment I might make next time is to add more pecans to the goo. Now I never have to wait until my next trip to Boston to have some sticky buns!