Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Baking Bible: Caramel Buns

This week's project is Rose's update on the sticky bun, which is a roll baked in a muffin tin with a blob of pecans and caramel at the bottom of each cup that melts during baking. Then, when the buns are turned out of the pan, the caramel oozes all over the bun hence the name. Rose decided to shape and bake these like a cinnamon roll, leaving the caramel and pecan topping to go on afterwards. This left room to double the amount of caramel per roll, which nobody will ever complain about.

These buns are made from brioche, which is also a major improvement over the regular sweet dough usually employed for sticky buns. The brioche needs to be made at least one day before making the buns, but there's enough room to stretch the making of the dough and buns to fit a busy toddler's schedule.

The dough starter can do most of its work during a 24 hour refrigerator rest after one hour on the counter. I did this after the child's bedtime.

after 24 hours in the refrigerator

In the late afternoon I mixed the dough, which takes about 7 minutes. The best part is that you don't have to wait for the refrigerated starter to come up to room temperature--you can pull the bowl from the refrigerator and set it directly onto your mixer stand and get going.  The dough then needs to double in bulk--in the past the microwave (turned off) with a cup of boiling water has been a great place to proof bread but it was busy being used as a microwave this time. So I turned the cooler, which has been lingering in the house since the Young Sir's birthday party, into a bread proofer with two cups of boiling water. Vicki reminded me Dorie Greenspan's husband fashioned their cooler into a bread proofer and that's where I got the idea. Thanks, Vicki and the Greenspans!

rise up, my friend

After 90 minutes the brioche had actually done a little more than doubling, and was ready for the first hour of refrigeration. In the middle of that hour I needed to put the child to bed, so I asked Mark to degas the dough at the proper time. This kind of freaked him out because he had no idea what I was talking about, but relaxed when I told him he just needed to stir it down with a lightly greased spatula. After that, the dough goes back into the refrigerator for another hour.

After the second hour of chilling, the brioche gets patted out, given a couple of business letter folds, and then put back into the refrigerator to ripen. Brioche can be left to ripen for up to 2 days, but I pulled it out about the next morning to get them buns made. We wanted caramel buns!


after chilling, ready to roll

The dough is rolled out to a 13x12 rectangle, which is just barely a rectangle, now that I think about it. The whole thing is brushed with egg and the filling sprinkled on.


The filling is a mix of light muscovado and white sugar, pecan bits, and raisins soaked in rum. I used golden raisins because that's what we had. Next time I will do as Jenn did and double the cinnamon and the pecan bits.

not enough crunchy pecans! not enough cinnamon! plenty of raisins.

Then the whole thing is rolled up like a giant sushi roll.

This is divided into 12 rolls, 6 per pan. At this point bakers have a choice to refrigerate the rolls for up to 14 hours, making them a mostly do-ahead brunch option. They would need about a 2 hour rise before baking the next day. Or, bakers can opt for semi-immediate gratification and let them rise immediately for about 1 hour and then bake them off!

ready to refrigerate. or rise. whichever.

It was about time for the child to wake from his morning nap, and we decided the day was too pretty to wait for buns, no matter how promising, to rise and bake, then cool while caramel is made and etc. So I stuck the pans in the refrigerator and we took Eliot to meet some goats and a couple of chickens. And eat pasta.

After dinner, and while my husband put Eliot to bed, I took the rolls out and let them do their final rise on the stove while the oven preheated. It only took about 90 minutes to be ready to bake.

puffy buns

Then they bake and after they come out they are lightly glazed with the reduced rum raisin soaking liquid.

i think i have a hot spot in my oven
 Then you get to make the sticky caramel. This stuff is really delicious. It tastes like a really good chewy caramel candy, with the perfect amount of vanilla and butter to round out the burnt sugar. This gets poured liberally over the buns, and there you have it. Caramel buns are done.

just caramelled. night shots aren't very pretty

day shot. hopefully that looks a bit more appetizing
 These are pretty much the best version of a sticky bun I have tasted. The only thing I wish is for more filling: more pecans, more cinnamon, maybe even more raisins (and I generally hate raisins). However, now I want to redo these buns with dried sour cherries, dark chocolate, and almond. Probably sometime after the bake through is over.


And a couple shot of the insides.


  1. Wow..your gooey caramel and the inside shot of the bread looks so good! Mouthwatering! I agree with more cinnamon too! Next time I'll double cinnamon and triple pecans and raisins. :) I like your pastry board! I saw one at Crate & Barrel almost similar and I was wondering if I should buy it.

  2. Everything looks as delicious as ever. It's funny how time is marked by the children's schedule. Children up and down, up and down. I bet he loved these. Yes, more filling next time!

  3. Hi Jen: These look GREAT! More filling--you are right!! I want lots more pecans next time. That sticky caramel is the best! My husband took some of the leftover caramel and put drizzled it over ice cream...where it promptly became hard candy caramel! Come and see my results if you have a chance!

  4. Now I want another one! Dried sour cherries, dark chocolate and almonds sound incredible.

  5. They look amazing. I am going to make them this weekend... I love that brioche dough. Life changing (will probably be quite waist changing too!).

  6. Love the fluffy texture of your rolls and the color of your color. Chocolate filling would be yummy!

  7. I actually just remembered these rolls I made with ground almonds, chocolate and orange zest!

  8. your absolutely right about "more of everything inside..."

  9. Yours look splendid , nine and plump