I moved back to Montreal three weeks ago after living in Lausanne, Switzerland since mid-February for a student exchange. As I fielded through the pile of mail that accumulated on my bed, one much-anticipated package stood out. I unwrapped it to find a copy of Flour, a recipe book written by Joanne Chang, pastry chef and owner of Boston’s Flour Bakery. Back in May, while I was glued to my desk writing a term paper for my history class, my mind kept wandering back to the kitchen. To motivate me to power through the 1848 Federal Constitution of Switzerland (along with the help of a bottle of red) I placed an order online for Flour.
I decided to break in this new recipe book of mine by baking a batch of Flour’s most famous treat: the sticky sticky buns. Joanne beat Bobby during a sticky bun bake-off in an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay back in 2007. Since then, they’ve been getting lots of attention. These soft and sweet sticky buns would be a decadent addition to a Sunday brunch. Next time I’ll add more pecans though to decorate the top of these gooey buns. I haven’t been to Boston yet, but maybe a roadtrip this autumn is in the cards?
The brioche recipe makes two loaves, and the sticky buns recipe only uses half of the dough. Joanne does not recommend halving the brioche recipe. Instead, you can use the other half of the brioche dough to make brioche au chocolat (a recipe I will be posting soon) or you can freeze it.
I love that Joanne recreates many childhood staples in her book, such as pop tarts and oreos. I really appreciate that the measurements go by weight (volume measurements are given as well). I highly recommend investing in a scale in order to obtain consistent, accurate results. My only disappointment was the lack of photographs. I find it so much more enticing when each recipe is accompanied by a picture.
Recipe adapted from Flour
Yields 8 portions
315g (2 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
340g (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
3 1/4 teaspoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
82g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp.) sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
120g (1/2 cup)cold water
310 g (1 cup + 6 tbsp. or 2 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
170g (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
330g (1 1/2 cups) packed light brown sugar
115g (1/3 cup) honey
80g (1/3 cup) water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 batch brioche dough
55g (1/4 cup) packed light brown sugar
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g (1 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine both flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and eggs. Beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes.
2) Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough will be stiff and dry.
3) Add the butter on low speed, one piece at a time. Mix after each addition.
4) Continue mixing on low speed for 10 minutes. The butter must incorporate into the dough.
5) Bring the speed up to medium and beat for 15 minutes. The dough will become sticky, smooth and silky.
6) Bring the speed up to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. The dough should stretch a bit. If it is wet and loose add some flour. If it breaks off in pieces when pulled continue to mix for a few minutes. It is ready when you can gather it together and pick it up in one piece.
7) Place the dough ball in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap directly on the dough. Let the dough proof in the fridge for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this stage you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
1) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
2) Add the brown sugar, whisking until it dissolves.
3) Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the water, cream, honey, and salt.
4) Pour the mixture into a 9×13 inch pan and set aside to cool completely.
1) Flour your work surface, then roll out 1/2 batch of brioche dough into a 12×16 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick.
2) Mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and half of the toasted pecans together in a small bowl.
3) Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough.
4) Roll the dough tightly, starting from the short side.
5) Slice the roll into 8 equal pieces (about 1 1/2 inches wide). At this stage, you can tightly wrap the unbaked buns and store them in the freezer for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them overnight in the fridge or for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. Then proceed to step 6.
6) Sprinkle the goo with the remaining toasted pecans.
7) Place the buns, cut side down, into the goo.
8) Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to proof for 2 hours, or until the dough is pillowy, soft and the buns are touching.
9) Preheat the oven to 350F.
10) Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
11) Let the buns cool in the baking pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
12) Invert the buns on a serving platter.
Store the sticky buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Warm them up in the oven at 325F for 6-8 minutes before serving.