Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sticky Buns with Pecans

This recipes comes from one of my favorite cook books, "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science" by Kenji Lopez-Alt. I had never even heard about it until it was given to me by my awesome MIL (thank you!) The mission of Food Lab is similar to that of my beloved America's Test Kitchen but instead of an arsenal of chefs, it's a one-man army. Kenji tinkers with the science of recipes in the quest of not just perfection - but understanding how to achieve such results. Luckily for us, he's done the hard part and we get to reap the benefits! It's an insightful read that will give you the tools to grow as a home cook.

The first recipe that I ever tried from this book was one of my arch nemesis... the buttermilk pancake. I love a good stack of pancakes! Heck my husband refers to last year as, "the year of the pancake." They are one of the few things I crave and one of the few foods that can frustrate me in the kitchen. A good pancake has to be fluffy, not overly sweet, and can stand its ground without tons of maple syrup.  

Suffice to say, I was impressed by some of the tips in Food Lab. The key lesson that won my approval was how to coat the frying pan. In the past, Mike has donned my apron as a cape and came to the rescue as Captain Pancake - the King of Flipping Pancakes. I hate it when pancakes stick to the pan or the butters starts to burn.  Thanks to Food Lab, I learned that the best approach is put a little oil in the frying pan, spread it around evenly, and then wipe the excess off with a paper towel. It prevents the pancake from being saturated in excess fat while ensuring a smooth flip. Point Food Lab.

After passing this initial test, it was time for the big leagues: Christmas morning. This recipe for Sticky Buns was the perfect way to start a holiday! 

Point #1: these buns can rise overnight in the fridge saving you from getting up at the crack of dawn to impress friends and family. Just make sure you don't start too late because the dough needs to rise for two hours before forming the actual buns. Once you have them rolled and cut, then they can go in the fridge for at least 6 and up 12 hours. To put it into perspective, if you are a late riser on the weekends, you could commence the first dough rise by 8pm so it's done by 10pm. By the time you finish rolling and slicing, it will be about 10:30pm. Shove 'em in the fridge and go to bed. By no later than 10:30am, the buns needs to be out of the fridge and awaiting the oven as it preheats. No problemo!

Point #2: simple dough with almost a brioche flair thanks to the eggs in the mix. I've never made dough that incorporated brown sugar and they still came out marvelously light! If this is your first time making rolls, don't be intimidated.  

Point #3: the pecan caramel sauce is super easy and won't make a huge mess in your kitchen like normal caramel - phew! I hate it when the filling runs from the heat of the oven but that's not a problem with sticky buns. The caramel sauce on the bottom seals everything in.

Point #4: delicious. I was fascinated that the bread didn't get soggy after sitting in a bunch of caramel goo over-night and held its form even while baking. You don't need the cream cheese glaze but if you must, use one with a little orange or lemon zest - always kicks things up a notch! 

These buns are a gold star in our kitchen! The recipe for Kenji's, "The World's Most Awesome Sticky Buns" can be found in his cookbook, Food Lab, as well as online, i.e. check out this post on Eater.