When I saw cinnamon rolls and/or sticky buns announced as the September Daring Bakers challenge, I have to admit to sighing in relief. I have made cinnamon rolls many times, of many varieties, and it didn't look like I'd have to wrestle with caramel this time around. I read through the recipe, decided to make sticky buns, and realized... oops, still caramel. Darn! The recipe made it seem easy, but caramel has some kind of vendetta against me. I don't know why!
Rather than copying and pasting the recipe, please visit the blog of Marce, this month's hostess,
to see the recipe. It comes from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, a cookbook I have long contemplated buying, and I enjoyed how some of the steps of the recipe were illustrated, and there wasn't just a picture of what the final result should look like.
The first picture (above) shows my Sunbeam mixer trying to knead the dough. It was making such a ruckus and trying to jump off the counter, that at first I put a towel underneath it, and then decided to knead by hand. My poor Sunbeam has been challenged severely, although the worst thing I did to it was make divinity, which almost burned out the motor. Eventually I want to get a Kitchenaid with a snazzy color but I enjoy kneading by hand so much I didn't mind helping my mixer out. I could get the dough to feel quite right, and wish I had added a little less flour.
While the dough rose in an oiled bowl, I prepared the caramel mixture. I was happy to see that I didn't have to cook anything on the stove, just mix butter and sugar and syrup together in the mixer and spread it into the pan I would bake the buns in. The recipe said corn syrup but that you could substitute golden syrup - I had a bunch of golden syrup leftover from making treacle tart, and happily used it. Now this is where following the recipe exactly would have been helpful. It said to spread 1/4" of the caramel mixture on the bottom of the pan. I did, and thought it looked scarce, and had a bunch left over, so I scraped all of it into the pan. Little did I know the regret this would cause later on.
You may also notice that only half the caramel is sprinkled with nuts - we have one nut lover and one nut apathetic in my house. I made a little for each of us.
After the dough had risen, it gets rolled out and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. This step was the same for both the regular cinnamon rolls and the sticky buns. A step very familiar to me, although I was surprised the recipe didn't instruct me to leave a space to seal the rolls off (but I just did what it said). I also left all items resembling dried fruit out, since this was one of the ingredients we could omit if we pleased. If I had left them in, I would have been facing an entire pan of sticky buns to eat on my own. Yikes! The dough at this point was still not the texture I wanted - I made this recipe the first weekend of September and after reading other posts about it, it sounds like people let the dough rise longer if it wasn't quite ready. Well, I was anxious, and the rising time was soooo long already!!
The next step is rolling the dough into a log and slicing into 12-16 equal slices. I learned long ago that the best knife to use when slicing dough such as this is a bread knife, and was happy to easily make nice slices of the buns. I went with 12 buns because I wanted to bake everything in one pan.
The buns get laid into the caramel, covered, and left to rise a second time. If I had made them the night before, this is the stage I could have put them into the fridge, but I didn't plan that far ahead. This is another place where I should have allowed for extra time to rise, but I looked at them, saw they had proofed slightly, told them "Time's up!" and stuck them in the oven. At this point the process had taken 3-4 hours, the house smelled like Cinnabon, and we were starving!!
The buns smelled amazing while baking, well, until about 15 minutes before they were supposed to be finished. I opened the door and smoke started pouring out. You remember that extra caramel I lavished on the pan? Well, the reason you only put 1/4" on the bottom is that otherwise it bubbles over into the bottom of your stove. I had to take the buns out before I was really ready, and they were slightly underdone (not noticably, but not perfectly to my liking). I couldn't decide what to do about the oven for days - thanks to the advice from several Daring Bakers, I used lemon juice and baking soda, and it worked miracles (thanks everyone!!).
The finished product was delicious. Despite my rushing of the proofing, I felt like the dough was light and not that weird-sweet flavor of dough that has not risen correctly. The sticky bun part was tasty, but I think a little too sweet for me. The use of golden syrup lent a slight molasses taste to the buns which I think added a nice flavor dimension. On the other hand I felt the lemon zest was slightly overpowering, and might add less next time. I did like the way the caramel baked on its own, which technically should have meant less problems. I had plans to try an apple or orange version but never got around to it, but this recipe goes into my file as one I would make again. I would definitely do most of this the night before I wanted to eat them, however. 1 PM is a little late for breakfast!
Since this recipe is brought to you by the Daring Bakers, you can check out the other versions of this recipe by clicking on the blogroll on the left column of this blog. I have to warn you - there are now over 100 of us! I'll probably be spending the next few days reading and commenting on them!