Recipe: I Love Your Harlem Sticky Buns

November 26, 2015


If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of come the holidays, it’s desserts. Pies, cakes, tarts, and the likes are present at every holiday party, every holiday meal, every holiday office mixer…you get the picture.
This year, we decided to truly own holiday baking, perfecting our favorite sweets in advance of the season’s festivities (annual cookie exchange, we’re looking at you).

Who better to help us master holiday confections than the queen of sweets herself, Samantha Seneviratne? She of the mouthwatering Love, Cake blog, and The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe For Bolder Baking cookbook. Her beautifully inspiring recipes are chock-full of fall and winter spices—cardamom, clove, and cinnamon—allowing the flavors of the season to really shine.

Take it from us: Homemade desserts are so worth the effort. Which is exactly why we handpicked four knockout favorites for every holiday occasion:

1) The unexpected piece-de-resistance to serve after that big holiday dinner.

2) The easy and delicious morning-after breakfast recipe that will feed a full house.

3) The scrumptious snack, perfect for any winter-y afternoon.

4) The fun-to-make-with-the-kids treat.

Maple Sticky Buns
Makes 8 buns

There is a sticky bun debate raging in our house: sticky buns for breakfast or sticky buns for dessert? To me, a traditional sticky bun, with its pumped-up stature and gobs of caramel, seems out of place on the breakfast table. I’m not saying I wouldn’t enjoy one first thing in the morning, but I’d likely have to spend the rest of the day lying down. My husband, on the other hand, is a breakfast partisan. For this recipe, I set out to create something we could both eat for breakfast. Something decadent but not gut-busting, classic but fresh. The tender, yeasty bread is adorned with a cap of crunchy nuts, sweet caramel, and a swirl of cinnamon so fragrant you may be able to forego coffee. A little maple syrup adds complex sweetness that belongs at the morning meal.

6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing the bowl
2⁄3 cups whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
21⁄2 cups (111⁄4 ounces) bread flour, plus more for the work surface, if necessary
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
13⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1⁄4 cup maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces (1⁄2 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped
2 ounces (1⁄2 cup) walnuts, coarsely chopped
1⁄3 cup (11⁄2 ounces) raisins

1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Lightly grease a large bowl and set aside.

To prepare the dough, in a small pot, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pot to melt. Add the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool to 105°F to 110°F. (It should be warm to the touch but not too hot.) Add the egg and stir to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm milk mixture and mix just until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Or, tip the dough onto a work surface and knead by hand for about 12 minutes. You shouldn’t need to add flour. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the prepared bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size. This could take 30 minutes or 2 hours depending on the temperature. Keep an eye on the dough rather than the clock.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Butter a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a full boil and looks foamy with large bubbles. (It should register 212°F on a candy thermometer.) Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Sprinkle pecans, walnuts, and raisins evenly over the top. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

When the dough has doubled, tip it out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Knead it once or twice to expel the air and then roll it into a 10-inch square. Spread the 3 tablespoons butter evenly over the surface and sprinkle with the reserved filling. Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the top seam closed. With a serrated knife, cut the roll crosswise into 8 equal pieces. Set them in the pan with the topping, spirals facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let them rest until the dough has almost doubled again, about 1 hour. They should look pillowy and all of the rolls will be touching.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Uncover the rolls and bake until deep golden brown and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. (Set a piece of aluminum foil on the rack beneath the buns to catch any caramel that may drip out.) Give the center roll a wiggle—if it’s set in place, the buns are ready to come out. If the middle of that center roll feels soft, give them another few minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes then carefully cut around the edge with a paring knife and invert the rolls onto a serving plate. Let cool slightly before eating, if possible. These are best the day they’re made, served warm and gooey.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. To reheat them, wrap them in foil and pop them in a low oven until warm (source).

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