Monday, March 9, 2015

BB: Caramel buns

Caramel BunsRose has been telling the Alpha Bakers about these caramel buns since we got started on the bake-through. I've been thinking of them as sticky buns, where a sweet roll bakes in a pan with the topping ingredients on the bottom, and the whole thing is inverted when it comes out of the oven. These are not sticky buns. Rose's caramel buns are a cinnamon roll made with brioche dough, and drizzled (or doused) with a caramel sauce after baking. It's vaguely the same concept, but not at all the same results. These are better. :) For family members, think of Aunt Fan's caramels as a pourable sauce, covering rich cinnamon rolls.
Caramel BunsAs is common with The Baking Bible recipes, this one takes some time, and due to some travel in mid-week I stretched things out more. I made the sponge Sunday night, let it rise an hour on the counter then overnight in fridge, and it nicely bubbled through its flour blanket.
Monday after work I completed the brioche dough. My dough was a bit soft and didn't glom onto the dough hook very well after 4 minutes, so I gave it another few. Then in went the very soft butter in chunks, and I scraped the whole buttery mass into a rising container. It rose enthusiastically in my warming drawer and doubled in just under 1.5 hours. To make it easier to handle and not coat everything with the butter, the dough got chilled an hour, stirred down, chilled again, then turned out onto floured surface to knead a bit and fold. Then it was back to the fridge wrapped in plastic and in a zip-top bag.Caramel Buns

Thursday evening, back from my trip, it was time to make the rolls. First came the raisin debate: I'm indifferent to raisins, but some of the folks next door really dislike them. However, raisins (in my view) are easily removed if you don't want to eat them, and this recipe incorporates the raisins into making a glaze with the rum-and-water soaking liquid. I could have made my usual substitution of dried cherries, but there were golden raisins in the fridge so I went with the recipe as written. Having tasted the results with raisins, I don't think I'll repeat them and will do something else for the post-baking glaze. The raisins seemed like a no-value-added distraction in the caramel buns...or maybe I'm losing my taste for raisins, too.

The well-chilled dough was easy to roll out on a floured mat, and pretty easy to get an even distribution of the sugar-and-nut mixture after brushing the dough rectangle with egg. Rolling and cutting the dough got a little messy, as the sugar filling quickly moistened and started to leak a bit, then to coat the work surface and my hands as I cut the cylinder into individual rolls. I tried both dental floss and a serrated knife for cutting the rolls with mixed success--really what I needed to do was chill the dough again at that point.

Caramel BunsThe rolls go in 6 to a 9" cake pan, around the perimeter. The center is filled with either a Ball jar or ramekins of about 3" diameter. Whichever vessel you choose gets partly filled with boiling water as the pans go into the oven, and my choice of a ramekin was a bad one. Halfway through the baking, the ramekins (or jars) are to be removed so the rolls will brown on that inside edge...and pulling an oven-hot, water-filled ramekin from a pan of sweet rolls that had risen about to its top edge was a challenge. I think I only anointed one roll with some hot water...

Caramel BunsWhile the rolls were rising I made the caramel, and while they baked I made the glaze from the raisin soaking liquid plus some butter. The rolls got brushed with the glaze while hot, and then I did the step of using some caramel to glue pecan halves on each roll. At this point the rest of the caramel could have been poured over the rolls, but as none of mine were to be consumed until the next morning, I stopped at that point. Quite a test of will-power to not grab a roll warm from the oven and dunk it in the caramel!

Caramel BunsI had a roll the next morning for breakfast, reheating it slightly and warming the caramel before pouring it over the top. Heaven on a plate, I must say--this hits most of my food preferences. As I said above, the raisins will be left out the next time I make these, and perhaps a little chocolate could go in instead. Or I can wait for the Monkey Bread recipe which seems to be just about that idea.

I took the bulk of the rolls next door to sister-in-law for her Friday teachers' session. The report I got back was that my brother had one without added caramel, fearing it would make it too sweet. He really liked the roll....until he hit the raisins. The report from various teachers were all very positive, especially the one who had a microwave available to warm hers up--I think R had heated the caramel sauce, but not the buns, before putting them out.


  1. Nancy, I really enjoyed reading your process and your logic as you worked through the recipe based on your personal time table available, I used a mixture of half white raisins and the other half dried berries such as cherries, blueberries and cranberries. Like you, I think dark raisins are not as flavorful as other choices. Your finished product looks amazing and I'll bet the teachers were very happy with each bite.

  2. Nancy, chocolate is a good idea!!!! Next time I'll try that too! Your sis-in-law stay next day? That's nice!

  3. Hi Nancy, great post. Really informative. I can't wait for the Monkey Bread either. I eyed the recipe when I first got the book. Anyway, we all enjoyed this week it seems.

  4. Great post. I love your idea of using dried cherries instead of raisins. Might have to do that sometime.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  5. Hubby told me, there's no such thing as too many pecans so I subbed the raisin amount with more pecans. Your rolls looks beautiful! Loved the flowy caramel glaze.

  6. Hubby told me, there's no such thing as too many pecans so I subbed the raisin amount with more pecans. Your rolls looks beautiful! Loved the flowy caramel glaze.