This one in particular – Ina’s Easy Sticky Buns, chosen by Melissa of Made by Melissa – was nearly a disaster, because yet again I decided to change up the recipe rather than trusting to Ina’s instruction and experience. Lesson learned, folks – sometimes, you just have to follow the recipe, because chances are the person who wrote it knows more about food than you do.
This is probably a great recipe if you follow it, and really is a much easier way to make warm, gooey, sweet sticky buns. I may try it again at some point and actually do it right. Where in a standard sticky bun recipe you would need to make a yeasted dough and let it rise, these only require a package of frozen ready-made puff pastry. They are both easier and faster to make, and yield a lighter, flakier roll.
The mis en place is refreshingly simple: raisins (I used a mix of raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries, plumped up in a bit of almost-boiling water for 5 minutes), butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and puff pastry. And to prep before assembly, all I needed to do was mix together some of the brown sugar and some cinnamon for the insides of the rolls (I used turbinado sugar here), and cream together some softened butter and brown sugar with a big handful of chopped pecans for the outside (I kinda just wanted to eat this stuff by the spoonful).
That’s all there was to it, and then it was time to assemble the rolls.
I laid out one of the puff pastry sheets on a cold, clean board and brushed it all over with melted butter. The pastry then got a generous, even coating of my cinnamon/sugar mixture, followed by half of my plumped and drained dried fruit, arranged as evenly as possible, leaving about a 1″ border all around to insure clean rolling.
Time to roll! I folded the long edge up over the filling, then gently but tightly rolled the whole thing up away from me on the board, and carefully sealed the edge with my fingers.
About 1/2″ of each end of the roll got trimmed away, and then I sliced it into 6 even pieces. Set these aside, then moved on to the second sheet of pastry for roll number two.
Now, here is where I deviated from the recipe in a way that nearly ruined everything.
See, Ina instructs you to divide the butter/brown sugar/pecan mixture among the 12 cups of a muffin tin and then place the rolls on top to bake. This seemed like a bad idea to me – I was anticipating that the sugar would weld itself to the pan and make the rolls difficult to remove, and probably create a nightmare of a cleaning job afterward. So, in my infinite brilliance, I decided to reverse it and put the rolls on the bottom and TOP them with the butter mix.
This, my friends, was a mistake.
Puff pastry rises, and sugar tends to burn when it’s exposed to high heat for long periods of time. And, well, butter melts. So about halfway through the cooking time, the butter and sugar had liquified and was being pushed out all over the pan by the puffing pastry, and the sugar-coated pecans were getting rather too dark. By the time the pastry was cooked all the way, well, I had one heck of a mess. Sugar everywhere and burned nuts on every roll. Blech.
I managed to salvage them by scooping up the runny sugar and spooning it back over the rolls, and picking off the darkest of the nuts. Thankfully, the rolls came out of the pan with relative ease once they’d cooled slightly, so no problems there.
I tried one once they were cool enough to handle, and it really wasn’t bad. A little too toasty, perhaps, but not bad. They certainly didn’t look very good though, and frankly I would’ve been embarrassed to show them here. So I did what every improvising baker does who needs to hide an ugly product – I covered them with icing. 🙂
See, they don’t look so bad, do they?
And I guess they must’ve been alright to eat, too, because they disappeared in record time when I brought them into work the next day.
But yeah, never again. I promise Ina, when it comes to baked goods, I’ll never doubt your wisdom again. At least, not when it comes to technique. Flavorings are still fair game. :-p