This weekend I had the pleasure of going apple picking at Smolak Farms with fellow Boston-area food bloggers Elina, Shannon, Lauren, Kerstin, and Nicole. (You can check out Elina’s recap here.) In other words, by the time I finally (almost) finished off my apple stash I found myself with 1 1/2 crisper drawers of apples again. Given that most recipes seem to call for no more than 1 to 2 apples you can expect to see a lot of applicious recipes around here for awhile.
Kerstin and her lovely husband were kind enough to give my boyfriend and me a ride up to the farm. While en route we got to talking about our food philosophies and specifically the fact that my boyfriend could gladly eat the same meal for dinner each night, while I tend to be less loyal, trying new recipes whenever I can. Part of it stems from the fact that there are an overwhelming number of recipes on my ‘to make’ list. At last count I’m up to 1,056 recipes in my recipe organization software. Still, there are a few recipes that are so good they justify being made again. These favorites include dishes like Cooking Light’s Vanilla Balsamic Chicken and French Toast Souffle, The Slanted Door’s savory Caramel Sauce (my latest version here), and Rosie’s Bakery’s Chocolate Souffle Brownies. One of the new recipes to get added to this short list is Joanne Chang’s Sticky Buns. For those not from the Boston area, Joanne Chang is the mastermind behind the Boston bakery Flour. The bakery is quite popular and almost every time I have been to the South End location the line has snaked around the tiny shop. Flour serves up scrumptious eats from hearty sandwiches to pastry to a killer vegan chocolate muffin, but arguably the most famous item is the sticky bun. This calorific delight is so good that Chang went head to head against Bobby Flay on a Sticky Bun throw down. I first made these buns for Easter and blogged about them here. They were soft, rich, and oh so indulgent.
As soon as I made them I knew I was destined to make them again, but put it off for awhile because they are insanely rich (in other words, unhealthy), time consuming and yield a lot. It’s basically an equation for me to eat far more butter and sugar than any 5’1″ girl probably should. For some reason my bounty of apples made me reconsider. Funny how something as healthy as an apple can bring to mind thoughts of sticky bun goodness. I kept thinking about the fact that I could adapt Flour’s signature rolls by imbruing them with the flavors of a good caramel apple. Thus, this recipe was born.
As you can see, it’s no health food, but quite delectable in moderation. The key is the homemade brioche dough. It’s unbelievably soft and supple. I love how it’s simultaneously light and airy from the abundant air pockets and rich from the butter and eggs. The apple flavor is incorporated in two ways: first, boiled apple cider is stirred into the sticky goo and second, chunks of tart apple are swirled inside the roll along with cinnamon and sugar. The result is a treat that’s a little less sweet than your average sticky bun, but every bit as irresistable and well worth the time and effort. They garnered positive comments from my co-workers and are sure to be a hit for brunch.
Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Sticky Bun recipe
This recipe requires a lot of rising time so it’s perfect for making on a long rainy weekend or any time you have extra time to spare in the kitchen.
-3/8 ounce active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 packets)
-1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
-2 tablespoons lukewarm water
-2 1/2 cups bread flour (310 grams)
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (310 grams)
-1 tablespoon salt
-1/2 cup ice water
-11 ounces butter, softened
-1/2 pound butter
-15 ounces light brown sugar
-5 ounces boiled cider
-1/2 cup half and half
-2 cups brown sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 cup peeled, diced tart baking apple
In a small bowl combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let the yeast develop until it is thick and foamy like yogurt (about 1/2 an hour). Combine yeast with all dough ingredients, except butter, in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Beat on low for 10 minutes. Add the softened butter and knead for another 20 minutes, or until dough slaps the sides of the bowl. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Remove from the oven and let rise for several hours on a warm radiator or on top of a 200 degree oven.
When the dough is almost done rising, prepare your sticky goo by melting together the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, let cool, and whisk in the boiled cider and half and half. Set aside.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple and sprinkle evenly on the dough. Roll up the dough jelly roll-style and slice the roll into buns about 1 inch thick. Spread the sticky goo on the bottom of a roasting pan and place buns, evenly spaced, in the pan. Cover and allow to rise for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place buns in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes (check after 30). Let cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving platter.