First of all thanks to Madam Chow of Madam Chow's Kitchen for choosing this delectable treat for TWD:
While everyone might declare their own sticky bun recipe as the best, Ms Greenspan's uses a rich brioche dough so hers is just slightly more special. Incidentally, this is the same brioche dough that was used for Brioche Raisin Snails, my first TWD event. The picture below shows the base dough, a brioche Nanterre below it and the snails on the right. (Click on the image to enlarge).
A benefit of being a TWD member is the opportunity to build on techniques learned from previous events. For instance, after learning that a filled roll of dough is impossible to cut neatly if it is warm, I made sure this time around to chill my raisin and cinnamon sugar filled brioche log prior to cutting it. Also, recalling as well how unflavoured dental floss worked well for this task, I employed it again.
I froze most of the sticky buns and placed eight pieces in an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan that was filled with honey caramel and pecans. After a couple hours rest, these were touching each other and starting to surge up. These turned a deep golden brown colour in the oven with the hot caramel bubbling up the crevices between each stick bun. Click on the image below to enlarge.
Sticky buns need to be unmolded right after being taken out of the oven.
This is one of those moments that is truly rewarding to a home baker: to be the first to see how these golden rows of filled brioche are crowned with praline and enrobed in rich honey caramel. Soon its aroma - cinnamon, earthy and floral notes - wafts and entices.
At the same time, this is also one of the most trying moments for a home baker. The buns are burning hot and a steely will is required to wait for these to cool.
I love these sticky buns. The size is modest - probably about a 2-inch square - not gargantuan as are most store-bought varieties. What perfect excuse to reach for just one more piece. Honey provides far more complexity than just the one-note sweetness of sucrose. The crunchy sides and pecan praline crusted top contrast very nicely with the soft brioche, which was neither dense nor overly bready. All at once, this gooey treat is warm and spicy, buttery and sweet.
- When baking with raisins, it is always best to use a plump batch. Plumping a dried out bunch is easy - steep in hot water for five to ten minutes, then drain well. This has the added benefit of leaching off excess sugar, allowing more of the raisin's flavours to come through.
- Cutting with dental floss. Slip a piece of floss under the filled brioche log, then make an overhand knot. As you pull the floss with a quick, smooth and strong manner, the log will be cut very neatly.
- Here's a secret: because of all the sugar and spice involved in sticky buns, you can take shortcuts with the brioche dough. Try this quick and easy brioche recipe by Nick Malgieri. I'm sure Ms Greenspan wouldn't mind that I'm endorsing her good friend. Now, of course, if a brioche loaf is desired, nothing beats the multiple, long slow rises in developing aroma and flavour.