Ever since I’ve bookmarked this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve been eager to put this Ultimate Sticky Buns to test. Sticky Buns are really like cinnamon rolls with a nutty, gooey caramel topping. Most of the sticky buns I’ve tasted tend to be greasy and overly-sweet. Honestly, I’m not a fan of overly buttered baked goods.
This recipe promises light, moist and fluffy dough thanks to the addition of flour roux (aka tang zhong) which is a cooked flour paste. This method can also be used for soft bread rolls and buns.
Traditionally, the topping is made by cooking butter and sugar together to form a caramel. This recipe requires no cooking and uses dark corn syrup (you could also use light corn syrup) to mimic the caramel texture and taste. While caramel tends to harden when cooled, this topping does not, making it easy for us to sink our teeth into without posing a threat to our dental work.
So what’s my verdict? It totally works! They are not too rich and the sweetness level of the sticky buns is just right. It is not necessary to reduce the amount of sugar (trust me on this) and they remain moist and fluffy even at room temperature. Since I’m staying in Singapore where the humidity level is extremely high, I kept the rest of my sticky buns in the fridge as they were sweating in the container at room temperature. To serve, just warm them in the oven at 180°C for 5 – 7 minutes.
Flour Roux (Tang Zhong)
¼ cup (34 g) bread flour
2/3 cup ( 158 ml) water
⅔ cup (158 ml) cup milk
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
2 ¾ cups (375 g) bread flour
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup packed (110 g) dark brown sugar
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (85 g) dark corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 cup (125 g) pecans, toasted and chopped (optional) – I’m using a mixture of pecans and almonds
¾ cup packed (165 g) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Recipe source: America’s Test Kitchen
Flour Paste –
In a medium bowl, add the flour to the water and whisk until lump free.
Microwave and whisk after every 25 seconds, until mixture thickens to a smooth consistency, about 75 seconds in total.
In a stand mixer bowl, add in warm flour paste and milk together. Whisk well.
Add in egg and egg yolk and whisk again until incorporated.
Pour in flour and yeast. Use a spatula to bring the ingredients all together. It is not necessary to mix the dough too much at this point.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 mins.
Let the dough rest for 15 mins.
Add in sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for 5 mins.
Stop the mixer and add in softened butter. Scrap down the sides if necessary and continue to mix for another 5 mins.
The texture of the dough should be soft and sticky.
Dust your work area with plenty of flour and transfer the dough out.
Lightly knead the dough to form a ball and transfer into a large greased bowl. Lightly spray some oil onto the dough surface and cover firmly with a cling wrap.
Rest the dough in a warm spot (I prefer to put it inside the oven) for 45 – 60 mins, until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by adding the melted butter, brown and white sugar, dark corn syrup and salt together. Whisk until smooth.
Pour mixture into a greased 13 x 9 inch metal baking pan and tilt pan to cover the bottom evenly.
Sprinkle toasted nuts evenly on top. Set aside.
Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl, whisk well and set aside.
Generously dust your work counter with flour and transfer risen dough onto the surface.
Press dough gently to release air and stretch it into an 18 x 15 inch rectangle with long edge nearest to you.
Sprinkle filling evenly, pressing it down firmly with your palm. Leave about 1-inch border on all sides.
Carefully roll the dough into a cylinder, taking care not to roll it too tightly.
Pinch the seam together and roll the cylinder seam side down.
Gently score the dough with a knife into 12 equal portion. Do not cut all the way through with a knife.
Use a long dental floss or string, place underneath one portion and cross both ends together to cut the dough. This way, it’ll ensure a clean cut dough.
Place the dough, cut side down, into the prepared tray.
Repeat with the rest.
Cover with cling wrap and let them rest for a further 40 mins, until the buns are puffy and touching each other.
Preheat oven to 375°F or 190°C and bake for 20 mins until golden brown. Lightly cover with aluminum foil and bake for another 7 – 10 mins until centre dough registers 200°F or 100°C.
Remove tray and set on a wire rack. Let them rest for 5 mins before turning them out onto a large plate.