Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Rolls

Saturday, January 24, 2009
It's below zero again in Minnesota (that is below zero on the Fahrenheit scale for readers who don't live in the U.S.) I figured that the intrepid band of coffee-breakers who were willing to trudge over to our house this morning deserved something special for their trouble, so I made fresh-from-the-oven caramel rolls.

While I was considering how to make these rolls without getting up at 3:00 a.m., I remembered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I haven't used for a while. I am going to go out on a limb here, and say that these rolls are probably worth the cost of the book. They will give you a (possibly undeserved) reputation as a baker. I heard, "Where did you get these rolls? You made them? That's amazing!" so often that my store of modesty was quite used up. Granted, these people have an interest in encouraging me to keep providing them with food, but this was genuine enthusiasm.
The 5-Minute-a-Day method requires you to make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you want to use it. The authors, Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, say you can keep most of the doughs in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. The brioche dough, which I wanted to use for the pecan rolls, could be kept for only five days, so I mixed it up Wednesday night, let it rise for a few hours, and stuck it back in the refrigerator. That part was easy.
You really can't make these rolls in five minutes, however. No step is really hard, but it is time consuming. I still had to get up a 6:30 (a.m.!) (on a Saturday!) to make sure these rolls were ready on time.

This is the dough as it's dumped out of its plastic container. It doesn't look that promising, does it?
But it rolls out nicely.

As I roll out the dough, I realize that I'm a sucker for any recipe that asks you to roll out the dough, strew good things on top of it, and roll it back up, jelly roll fashion, although I've never made a jelly roll. I don't think I've ever even seen a jelly roll in the flesh, but without it, how would we know what cookbook authors were talking about when they instruct, "jelly roll fashion." I guess if they didn't exist, someone would have to invent them.

In this case, the aforementioned good things are butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans. Usually this kind of roll just has you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the dough, but in the 5-Minute method, you cream the sugar and spices with the butter. This makes it harder to spread, and there's already so much butter in this recipe that I'm not sure that more is needed, but I have to say that nobody complained that there was too much butter.

Now you roll it up, you know how.
You cut slices off the roll and put them in a pan that's already been prepared with butter and brown sugar, creamed together, and then covered with pecan halves. More pecans than would be on anything that you might buy.

At this point, I had to punt. The recipe uses 1 1/2 pounds from 4 pounds of brioche dough. But I cut the brioche recipe in half, and I decided I might as well just turn all the dough into rolls. This gave me two pounds of dough for a recipe based on 1 1/2 pounds, so I increased all the ingredients in the pecan roll recipe by about 25%. This process overtaxed my math skills, so I'm going to give you the proportions in the original recipe, not as I fiddled around with them. The recipe says to put the rolls in a round cake pan, so I used an bigger oblong pan, figuring it would be about right. I was left with a lot of leftover dough, so I had to quickly grab a smaller cake pan, cream so more butter and sugar for the caramel part, and cut smaller rolls. I didn't tell anyone that these were makeshift, inferior rolls.

Then they had to sit for about an hour. I was so happy that I'd read the recipe the night before and allowed for this period of resting time. Otherwise, I might have had to lock the front door and hide when people started to arrive. As it was, I pulled the big pan of rolls out of the oven seven minutes before Robert, our first guest, arrived.

They looked nice and brown and fluffy in the pan, but inverting something like this is always an iffy proposition. There was so much butter that they could hardly stick. The worst that happened is that some buttery caramel sauce puddled out on the counter before I could completely get the rolls out of the pan.

Joe, our neighbor from across the street, told me they were the best sticky rolls he'd ever had, and he's had many. (Joe's wife Lela is the one who flattered my scones last week. I love Joe and Lela).
One more week of doughnut open houses, so I have to think of one more breakfast treat to make. I should have saved either this recipe or the chocolate babka as the final piece de resistance, because I'm not sure what I can bake next week that will be up to snuff. Any ideas?

BRIOCHE DOUGH (full recipe, makes about 4 1-poundloaves)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour, using the dough hook on a mixer, or just use a spoon, until all of the flour is incorporated.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours


Makes 8 rolls.

1 1/2 lb. premixed brioche dough

Caramel topping:

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
30 pecan halves For filling:
Flour for rolling dough
4 tbsp. salted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped and toasted pecans
Pinch of ground black pepper

To make caramel topping: In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together butter, salt and brown sugar. Spread evenly over bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Scatter pecan halves over butter-sugar mixture and set aside.

To make rolls: Dust surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off 1 1/2-pound piece. Dust piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching surface of dough around to bottom on all four sides, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick rectangle.

To make filling: In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread mixture evenly over rolled dough and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Starting with long end, roll dough into a log, jelly-roll fashion. Using a serrated knife, cut log into 8 equal pieces and arrange rolls over pecans in cake pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest and rise 1 hour at room temperature. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set well in center. Remove to a wire rack. While still hot, run a knife around inside of pan to release rolls and invert rolls immediately to a serving dish.


Melinda said...

My goodness they look... wow! What a perfect bread to serve for a bitter cold morning. They look so delicious.
Caramel draped over anything, always looks good to me! It might even make my shoes look edible.
My suggestion for next week is homemade Danish. Easy peasy.

By the way, I did my L.B. bread project today. It were loverly.

breadbasketcase said...

Homemade Danish--easy peasy? Are you serious? The only recipe for homemade Danish I know is from Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible and it looks the opposite of easy. Hardy pardy more like. Or complicated pomplicated.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is GORGEOUS!!! I just wish I had neighbours like you. Jeannette

Melinda said...

You crack me up!

Doughadear said...

Your sticky rolls look absolutely fantastic. What a wonderful treat for your guests coming in from the cold to enjoy. You really are a great neighbour preparing all these lovely breads from scratch.

I would like to send you this recipe for Refrigerator Bran Muffins from Anne Lindsay's Smart Cooking - Quick and Tasty Recipes for Healthy Living, that I have been making for years. The reason I love these so much is first of all you prepare a hugh batch and just stick in the refrigerator. It is great to have this batter, which keeps for up to six weeks in the refrigerator, ready for whenever you want to make up a few muffins for breakfast. You just line the muffin pan with paper muffin cups, spoon in the mixture and in 20 minutes you have fresh muffins. Secondly I think these are the best bran muffins ever. I thought these would be great for a crowd coming for coffee because they will already be mixed, you just have to bake them in the morning.

Refrigertor Bran Muffins

1 cup vegetable oil 215 grams
1 cup granulated sugar 200 grams
6 eggs 300 grams
½ cup molasses 107 grams
3 cups milk 726 grams
5 cups natural bran 225 grams
3 cups whole-wheat flour 432 grams
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins or dates 145 grams

In a large bowl beat together oil, sugar and eggs until well mixed. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight for up to 6 weeks.

Spoon batter into paper-lined or nonstick muffin tins and bake in 400 F. oven for 18 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Calories per muffin – large-231, medium-116

breadbasketcase said...

Seriously--do you have a way of making Danish that isn't like croissants, only more work?

Thank you. I wish you were a neighbor because you would properly appreciate me!

Thanks so much! I used to make a bran muffin recipe from Maida Heatter, and I loved them. Really delicious, and you totally forgot that they were good for you. This looks like a fantastic recipe, especially because you can keep the muffin batter on hand and enjoy a fresh, warm muffin any time. (And thanks for the translation into grams--I don't always bother to do the conversion, but I'm always glad when I do).

Bunny said...

I have this book, I think if i make these for my hubby I could sweet talk just about anything I want from him! LOL!!

Ethan said...

These look great. I've been using Artisan Bread in Five book a bit less lately too, but I often make the brioche sticky buns. I get requests for them now. I always make them the night before, roll, cut them up, and put them in the pan, then put them in the fridge to rise slowly overnight. Then you get up and take them out of the fridge while the oven preheats and bake away. I had to find a way to not get up too early.

Jeff Hertzberg said...

Hi Marie: Glad the recipes are still working for you, your rolls look great! -- come visit us at

Jeff Hertzberg (co-author)

Anonymous said...

Just had a look at this website given by your last commenter and book-marked it, so much to read! Do you recommend the book, Marie? I'm a sucker for baking books as most of us are on here.

breadbasketcase said...

It worked for me!

I thought about that method, but wasn't sure it would work, since the dough had already been refrigerated for a couple of days. I'm glad to know that it does, and that I wouldn't have to get up at 6:30 to have these rolls ready by 9:30.

Thanksk. I visit your web site frequently to see what you're cooking up. You seem to have an endless supply of ideas.

I do recommend the book, although I had some trouble with the recipes initially (mostly because the measurements are in volume rather than weight). I think that some of the recipes aren't as good as, for example, Rose's version of the same thing, but I love the concept of being able to come home from work and bake bread for dinner.

jini said...

i, the hesitant bread baker recommend the book too. i don't use it often, but then i rarely bake. now that qualifies me as a really really lazy baker. :)

evil cake lady said...

Maire, you've been Bakey McBakenhammer lately! And such delicious goods, too. If anyone could pull off a hardy pardy danish it would be you.
Along with many, I wish I could be your neighbor and come over for coffee and excellent baked goods on a very cold winter morning.

pinknest said...

simply gorgeous. i have the hugest brioche-y soft spot for pecan sticky rolls. they are one of my favorites. i remember the last time i made them, i was up til 3am. hahaha.

Maura said...

I would make Nick Malgieri's Apricot Sunny-Side Up pastries. It's from the Baking with Julie cookbook, but you could pull the ingredients from other books.

The individual pastries are small oval rounds of puff pastry topped with a blob of pastry cream and then topped with an apricot half before baking. Once out of the oven, they are brushed with thinned apricot jam.

They are utterly delicious, very easy, and adorable because the finished pastry looks like a fried egg.

If you don't have the book and want the recipe, I will gladly type it out for you. Just let me know.

Maura said...

PS - Your pecan caramel rolls look fabulous.

Maura said...

I was looking for an image of Nick Malgieri's Apricot Sunny-Side Ups on Google (no luck), but I did find a version using brioche dough, which wikk give you an idea of what they look like. I would stick to the puff pastry base, however, because the crispy-creamy contrast is so fabulous.

But if you Google this you'll get the general idea: Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastry

breadbasketcase said...

But you baked the speculaas! (Did you see that I finally posted your pictures?)

I have been a crazy baker lately, but you know how I love projects, and this month's project was a different treat every Saturday morning, so what could I do?

You are so funny.

jini said...

now i see them. thanks marie.
i have to go to the tucson gem show next week, then i'll bake the bread. honest. :)

breadbasketcase said...

The photo you sent is a pastry made from the same brioche dough I used to make the sticky pecan rolls. I saw that picture in the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes cookbook, and it looked delicious--probably even better with puff pastry. I dn't have the Baking with Julia cookbook. Do you recommend it? I think I'm going to get another baking cookbook, and that's one that I'm considering. I'd love to see the Nick Malgieri recipe, but I don't want you to go to the trouble of typing it out. (Puff pastry easy? You're like Melinda saying homemade Danish is easy!)

breadbasketcase said...

Oh you poor thing. You have to venture into warm weather to look at beautiful gems. Have a great time--the bread will still be waiting to be made when you get back.

Maura said...

To all -

First off, my apologies to Michel Richard for giving Nick Malgieri credit for his Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastries. Malgieri contributed some terrific cookie recipes (the X-Cookies are wonderful), but Michel Richard was the puff pastry king on the series. I haven't made every recipe in the book, and there are some I will never make, but I wouldn't want to be without many of the recipes in this book.


I sent the recipes to you for the Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastries to your Comcast email address since I didn't think they'd fit in the combox. Also, I forgot to note that the PBS website has videos of the recipe demonstrations on the Baking with Julie program. I very much enjoyed the series.

jini said...

you know marie, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it. i am really really hoping it is WARM!

breadbasketcase said...

I think Michel Richard would forgive you. I can't wait to try these!

I'll be thinking of you as the snow flies.

Chris said...

I'm a recent convert to Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, so a friend sent me here. Wow! Great blog. I will be back often, even if my blood-sugar requires caution in this department!

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks! I agree--you can't really be eating these sticky buns every day, or even every week, but as a special treat, they're pretty amazing.