Sticky buns made with homemade brioche and filled with a layer of pastry cream and brown sugar-bourbon-butter schmear are the perfect breakfast treat!
Between the half marathon and the marathon there’s one little endurance event milestone that you don’t often hear about even though it’s kind of a big deal.
The Sticky Bun.
The Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery Sticky Bun, to be precise.
More akin to a triathlon, and certainly not for the faint of heart, it boasts such challenges as a sprint through brioche-ville, backstroke into pastry-cream-land and cycle right into brown-sugar-butter-bourbon-schmear-topia.
Never one to turn down an opportunity to fatigue my muscles in unprecedented ways, I, uh.
Kinda sorta signed us up.
If I’m going down into the Sticky Bun abyss, you, my foodie friends, are coming with me. (Besties.For.Life.)
No hard feelings?
As with training for any endurance event, the key is in the planning.
The brioche requires an overnight stay in the fridge while the pastry cream only needs an hour, but do both the night before and you are vastly ahead of the game.
Other than that it’s a lot of hurry up and wait.
Wait for the buns to proof, then wait for them to bake and perfume your apartment with their heavenly scent, and then wait for them to cool before eating.
Though, there are times to play by the rules and there are times to, well, not. And I absolutely positively won’t tell if you totally ignore that last step and dive in headfirst.
So. On your mark, get set.
Let’s do this.
Three years ago…Pork Schnitzel with a Roasted Potato and Brussels Sprout Salad
Four years ago…Macaroni and Cheese with Mushrooms
- 263 g all purpose flour
- 6 g instant yeast
- 31 g sugar
- 6 g fine sea salt
- 132 g (about 3) eggs
- 44 g whole milk
- 118 g unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 132 g egg yolks
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 110 g sugar
- 83 g custard powder or all-purpose flour (I used Birds Custard Powder
- 550 g whole milk
- 27 g unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
- 255 g light brown sugar
- 168 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 30 g honey
- 5 g bourbon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole pecans
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- To make the brioche, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix for about 15 seconds. Add the sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather all the dough into the center. Mix again on medium speed for 10 minutes.
- Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle. It will stick to your fingers a bit, and that's okay. Stretch the left side of the dough up and out and fold it over two-thirds of the rest of the dough. Then repeat with the right side as if you were folding a letter. Repeat the process with both the top of the dough and then once again with the bottom of the dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
- After the hour is up, repeat the patting, stretching and folding. Place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, make the pastry cream. To do this, put the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla to the yolks and mix on medium-low for about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the sugar. Increase speed to medium and whisk for 1.5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 3 minutes, until it is pale yellow and thick.
- Reduce the speed to low and add in the custard powder. Mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the milk. Scrape the bowl again and mix on low until combined, about a minute.
- Pour the custard into a large saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir until it begins to thicken. Whisk as it comes to a simmer, making sure to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan to keep from burning. Once bubbles start to appear, cook for about five minutes longer, whisking constantly, until the cream has thickened. Pour into a bowl and whisk for a few more minutes, until cool. Whisk in the butter in two additions. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- When you're ready to assemble the sticky buns, heat the oven to 350. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and stir it with a fork a bit to break up any clumps.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium-low speed until creamed. Add the sugar and mix for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the honey, bourbon, and vanilla. Mix until combined, about 1 minute.
- Place 1 tbsp of the brown sugar/butter mix in each of 12 muffin cups (I used these silicone cups). Set the pan in the oven for 2 minutes to melt the schmear. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of pecans into each cup. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Release the brioche dough from its bowl and put it onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough into a 16-inch square. Spread 140 g of the pastry cream in an even layer over the dough. Top with the remaining brown sugar/butter blend. Dust with cinnamon and the remaining pecans.
- Lift up the side of the dough nearest you and roll up as tightly as possible. Turn the roll seam side down and use a scissor to cut it into 12 equal portions. Tuck the end of each roll underneath itself to keep it from unraveling as it bakes. Put it in a muffin cup. Push the center layers of the roll outward, making a small hole in the center, which will close up as the buns rise. Push the tops of each bun so that they reach the sides of the cup.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1½ hours.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the buns are a rich golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto a silpat or piece of parchment paper so that the pecans and melted, caramelized schmear are now on top. Let cool completely before serving.