Chef Mary’s Infamous Sticky Buns
We love these sticky buns for brunch or for an indulgent afternoon treat. We include sources we love because some ingredients can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. This recipe makes enough dough for 24 buns, but you can make just eight and save the rest of the dough for later. Enjoy!
For the rolls:
¾–1 cup warm milk
1½ Tablespoons instant yeast
6¾ cups Four Star Farms bolted bread flour
½ cup North Hadley Sugar Shack granulated maple sugar
1 Tablespoon Maine Sea Salt
8 Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm pastured eggs
1 pound Cabot Creamery unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, at room temperature
For the filling (You won’t use it all, but it’s good on everything.):
2 cups maple sugar
1/3 cup ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup Fairland Farms apple juice sweetened dried cranberries
For the sauce
1½ cups butter
3 cups maple sugar
2/3 cup Shelburne Farms honey
2/3 cup Mapleline Farm grass-fed heavy cream
2/3 cup water
1 cup Stonybrook Farms brined toasted pepitas, OR 1 cup raw pepitas and 3/4 teaspoon salt
This recipe is enormous. It will make 24 very large sticky buns, 48 smaller ones or eight sticky buns and a lot of gorgeous brioche for later. Fortunately, it freezes very well. You can freeze at two different points in the process–either once the dough has finished rising and chilling in the refrigerator, or after shaping into rolls but before proofing them.
First, proof your yeast. Stir yeast into ¾ cup warm milk and wait five to 10 minutes. It should start to bubble and get a little puffy. Add flour, then maple sugar, sea salt and eggs. Stir in, then allow to rest and hydrate for 10 minutes. This is easier in a tabletop stand mixer fitted with its dough hook, but if you are feeling very industrious you can also knead it by hand. You may need to knead in a bit more milk, but this will be a very dry and stiff dough to start.
Begin kneading butter into your stiff dough, just a couple little pieces at a time. Add a couple pieces of butter, knead until it’s almost disappeared, and repeat. Continue until all the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth, elastic, and has a good bounce and stretch to it. There will be points in this process when the dough seems to be coming apart and it doesn’t look like it will ever come back. Trust the brioche. It will work.
When your dough is shiny and smooth, turn it into a buttered bowl. Cover, and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then put it in the refrigerator for at least four to six hours and up to overnight to rise slowly. You’ll want to give it a nice fold and turn about halfway through. The dough is ready when it is fully doubled, which means when you give it a couple good pokes with your fingers it doesn’t readily grow back to fill the space.
While the dough is rising, make your cinnamon sugar filling. Whisk together maple sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. This makes FAR more than you’ll need, but it’s great on pancakes, toast and everything. Make your sauce. Combine butter, sugar, honey, cream and water in a non-reactive pot. Do not add the pepitas yet. If your pepitas are salted, you won’t need salt in your caramel sauce. If your pepitas are not salted, add ¾ teaspoon salt to your caramel sauce. Bring sauce ingredients to a boil, and allow to cool fully.
Pour a layer of sauce just to coat the bottom of your baking pan(s). One-third of the dough, or eight rolls, will just fit in a 9×13 dish or two 8×8 dishes, but don’t crowd any more than that. If using raw pepitas, sprinkle them into the sauce. Set aside for now.
Fold the dough again and turn out onto your work table. Divide into three equal portions. A scale is very useful for this process. If you only want to make one batch of buns, take the other two portions and wrap them very well and pop them in the fridge or freezer for later. This brioche dough is delicious and super versatile, so you’ll be glad you have extra! If you’re feeding a crowd, just hold the other two-thirds of the dough in the fridge while shaping the first piece.
Take one-third of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle. Exact measurements are not mission critical, but it’ll be around about 17-18 inches long and about 10 inches wide. Leaving a good inch to an inch-an-a-half margin on the bottom long edge unsprinkled, sprinkle the rest generously with cinnamon sugar filling. Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup dried cranberries. Starting at one of the far corners, start rolling toward you a little at a time, then move across in a row. Move back across and keep rolling in a little at a time until it’s evenly rolled into a cylinder. Pinch your seam closed. With a sharp knife or bench scraper moving straight down with no sawing motion, cut into eight equal pieces. We like to do this by cutting in half, then matching up the halves and cutting in half, then cuting each piece in half again.
Place buns, cut side down, in the prepared saucy baking dish. Now you have a choice: you can put them back in the fridge and bake them tomorrow, or you can set them out to rise for about one-and-a-half hours, until nice and puffy.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake buns about for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and amazing. Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan. Use a flat spatula to turn buns out onto plates. If using already toasted seeds, sprinkle them on now.
P.S. Want to enjoy amazing local food like Chef Mary’s Infamous Sticky Buns without dirtying a pot or pan? Join Cuisine en Locale (156 Highland Ave.) for brunch on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy produce-forward cocktails, live music from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and more tasty treats!