Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Sticky Bun Experience

 Also known as, How I Spent My Easter:

Sticky Bun: aka, giant brick of sweet, rich, caramely decadence.

I made Pecan Sticky Buns, invented from a recipe in April's Bon Apetit magazine.  Problem is, they somehow ended up taking half the day to make!  This was pretty much due to a few "mishaps" that occurred along the way.  In the future, I will also make everything the night before, roll them out, and then will only need to slice and bake them in the morning.

At any rate, these turned out sinfully rich, sweet and delicious.  Since I didn't use yeast in the recipe, they have a more flakey than doughy consistency, but still fine nonetheless. 

This recipe has three parts: the dough, the filling, and the topping/glaze.  Before I go into the making of them, let me explain the "mishaps" that I had. 

1. First of all, gluten-free flour must absorb less water than normal flour. (Maybe? Let's blame it on that?) - I added less milk than called for to my batter at the last step, yet still turned it to a sticky, unrollable mess.  So, I had to keep adding more and more flour....  I was already making a double recipe, so this nearly made my mixer bowl overflow.  (It also prompted some delirious song... "25 gallons of sticky bun dough, 25 gallons of dough.... add some flour, mix it around, 26 gallons of sticky bun dough.....")  After adding about a cup, I gave up, threw it in the fridge, and it ended up fine after chilling.

2. Second major issue-- Bon Apetit recipe calls for 1 cup of the glaze to be poured into the pan before putting the raw buns in, before cooking.  I somehow missed the "1 cup" part, so I dumped the whole pot in.  This led to sticky buns swimming in a pool of caramel sauce.  When I realized my mistake, I tried to pour some out.... this did not end well either. (Actually it was fine- but sticky buns were still baked in WAY more glaze than necessary!) - So that one definitely changed the final product.

The moral of the story is, they're still delicious, even if you mess up a little. (Or "improvise!")

Without further ado....


1/2 c millet flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 c potato starch
3/4 c all-purpose GF flour
1.5 tsp guar gum
2 tsp baking powder
5 tbs coconut sugar
1 tsp sea salt                       --> combine dry ingredients, stir to mix

2 large eggs                        --> break into a cup, whisk until smooth
~1/3 c almond milk-- or less!
1/4 c ghee
1/4 c coconut oil  (soft, but not melted)

Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Dough hook is probably optional, especially since we're not using a yeast dough... but I used one anyway)  Gradually add all eggs, and about 1/4 c almond milk. Add milk slowly until dough is moist enough, but not too wet to roll.  Mix in butter a little bit at a time.  Mix on medium speed for ~5 minutes.  Place in refrigerator to chill (2-3 hrs).

1/4 c ghee
1/4 c coconut oil  (soft, not melted)
1/2 c coconut sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients using an electric mixer on high speed, beating until light and fluffy, 2-3 mins.  Set aside.


1 3/4 c chopped pecans, toasted     (toast on a cookie sheet in oven, if not pre-toasted: 10-12 mins at 350)
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c ghee
3/4 c coconut sugar
1/3 c agave
2/3 c almond milk + 2 tbs soymilk powder + 1/8 tsp guar gum  (= "heavy cream" substitute!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp finely grated orange zest (optional- I did one batch with, one without-- both great!)

Melt oil/ghee in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in all other ingredients. (Coconut sugar will probably separate out/turn tar-like... this is okay! Proceed!)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  (MAGIC!) Sauce should be uniform, glossy, and smell (/taste) like caramel. :)
What NOT to do: pour entire pot of glaze into pan.

Pour ONE CUP :) of glaze into a 8x8 baking pan, and tilt to coat sides. Set aside the rest for later use.  Sprinkle 1/2 c toasted pecans over bottom of baking pan, and let cool.

Roll out dough- I recommend between 2 sheets of waxed paper, or between two silicone rolling sheets.  Either way, flour surface liberally (I used brown rice flour.) Roll into a 12"x16" rectangle, about 1/4" thick, with the long side facing you.  Spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1" plane border on the edge farthest from you (so it doesn't goo-out post-rolling!)

Sprinkle 3/4 c chopped pecans over filling.

Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough, trying to tighten as you go.  Use a metal knife/spatula to help free it if necessary.  Pinch long seam together when rolled. Pat open ends to make them flat (un-tapered). Arrange log seam-side-down.

Buns swimming in glaze.... yummo!
Use a knife to slice log into 9 pieces (buns)... or more if you want lots of shorter ones! (but then you will need more pans... possibly with more glaze in them....)  Turn buns cut-side up, and pat top to flatten slightly.  To make a bun more round in shape, cup it in floured hands, and gently push and turn it in a circular motion. 

Place buns in prepared pan, evenly spaced, and preferably not touching.

Preheat oven to 350, with a middle rack available. Whisk one egg with 1/2 tsp water in a bowl, and brush tops of buns with egg wash.  Bake for ~50 minutes, "rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly" (--yeah right Bon Apetit, I did neither of those two things).  Buns should be golden-brown, and filling (/glaze goo) should be bubbling.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then spoon remaining glaze over them.  Sprinkle on remaining 1/2 pecans, then let cool completely.  --Bon Apetit also says to lightly sprinkle sea salt over them. I forgot to do this, but I think it would be good! --> so let's say sea salt optional.


Outta the oven.  Maybe more like Sticky-Bun-Loaf... but delicious all the same.

For me, the experience of making these was equally important as the outcome.

(Sadly, I can barely eat the outcome, as they're just so darn sweet and rich! ..and probably calorie rich too... oh well!)

Oh oh and you know what my favorite part was??? Making the glaze taught me that coconut sugar does indeed caramelize, and if you boil it with almond milk./agave, it WILL melt! (contrary to its low-heat tar-like behavior!) Yay!

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