Staying up until 2 AM baking sticky buns is not generally advisable, unless you a) can sleep in the next morning and b) you're watching the season 6 finale of Dexter. As I was putting together these sticky buns, the season wound up in my living room and I alternated between being on the edge of my seat and on the edge of barfing. Such hideous, horrible grossness in the last few episodes. And that final scene, when your gut drops... if you watch, you know the one. Please don't spoil in comments.
It's good that I had the promise of these sticky buns to balance out all the bad things playing out on screen. Just like the buns balanced with Dexter, the sweetness of the buns were balanced with tart little bursts of flavour from the plums I added. Plums are one of my favourite fruits to add to baking - they're much like cranberries but a bit sweeter and less bitter.
So when you're settling down to watch a particularly difficult bit of TV - such as the final few episodes of Dexter season six, the end of Six Feet Under, or perhaps a Curb Your Enthusiasm marathon - bake some plum and walnut sticky buns at the same time. You'll be glad you did.
plum & walnut sticky buns
Adapted from Foodess.com
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (one envelope)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Adapted from Foodess.com
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter (half a stick), room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped plums (I used 1/4 cup and felt they could use more!)
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons golden corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped plums
- Note: If you have a standing mixer, you may want to head over to Foodess to check out her directions with respect to the dough. I don't have a standing mixer, so I did everything by hand.
- Dough: put butter pieces into a small bowl with the milk and microwave until it has reached somewhere between 120ºF and 130ºF. Start with 30 seconds and test as microwaves vary. If your milk is too hot, it will kill your yeast!
- In a medium bowl, combine yeast, 1 cup of flour and sugar. Add the milk mixture and the egg. Mix with a spatula for three minutes.
- Add the rest of the flour and incorporate it in with your hands. When the flour is absorbed and the dough sticky, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, or until the dough is elastic. Form into a ball.
- Oil a large bowl and place dough inside. Cover it with plastic wrap and a towel. Allow it to rise for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Topping: While waiting for the dough to rise, make the topping. In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, stir together butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and honey. Remove from heat once sugar has dissolved. Grease a 9x13 walled baking pan and pour sticky topping into the bottom, tipping the pan to coat evenly. Scatter chopped walnuts and plums evenly over sugar mixture and set aside.
- Back to the dough: Punch down the dough and roll it out to roughly 15 x 11 inches.
- Filling: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Spread butter over rolled dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar and plums evenly, leaving a 1/2" border along the edges.
- Roll the dough carefully, jelly-roll style from the bottom horizontal edge. Holding it together, cut down the centre. Cut each half into four. Place your 8 rolls into the pan, leaving a little bit of space between them if you can. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel, then allow to rise for a further 45 minutes. Note: If you want, you can just put them in the fridge overnight at this stage for baking the next morning. They will turn out slightly less awesome this way, but you will get to have your sticky bun breakfast before noon!
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Flip your buns immediately onto a plate and allow to cool for about 5 minutes if you have superhuman willpower. If you're like me, go ahead but be careful! The delicious baked good you are about to eat is very hot!