Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pecan Sticky Buns: Sometimes a Girl Just Needs a Good Slap.

For those of you who don’t spend a lot of time making brioche dough, let me tell you: things can get a little violent.

It’s not that I like violence, exactly. I’m more of the passive-aggressive type. But every once in a while I like to get tough. I like to inflict pain upon unsuspecting heaps of butter and flour. (Maniacal laugh.) Here’s how it all went down with the brioche dough needed for pecan sticky buns:

The war zone on day three
Straight out of the box, on page one of the SIX-PAGE recipe, I was instructed to listen for the “satisfying slap” of dough coming together against the side of the work bowl. No problem. I’ve made brioche before. I’m a bread-baking goddess. I knew what I was getting into. I fearlessly plopped all my ingredients into the bowl and began whirling them together.

But where was the slap?

Grind grind, sgush sgush. No slap.

Glurp. Glurp. Grrrrblup. Still no slap.

Check recipe. Breathe.

All right, time to get serious. Add more flour, be patient. I won’t do anything for at least two more minutes. Tick tick. One minute passes….Must... Add... More... Flour.

Glurp. Grind. Glurp.

Still no slap? What the…?

Forget the recipe: I know better.

I stopped measuring. I stopped counting minutes. I threw all caution to the wind and moved on pure instinct. More flour, more!

And finally, the dough began to cooperate. At last I achieved that sought-after rhythmic slap. My baker's high kicked in. Brioche dough, I will destroy you! (Some days I like to coddle my baked babies, but I was in a domineering mood by now. And I know you talk to your dough too. Admit it.) 

By this point, the KitchenAid was getting pretty heated up over all the work it was forced to do. I was secretly hoping it would finally poop out on me so I could save the day with my kick-ass hand-kneading skills. (Flex Captain America biceps.) But no luck. The mixer persevered. At least I didn’t have to aggravate the old carpel-tunnel syndrome. (Sad face emoticon.)

Look at my butter layers!
Next came the instruction to “beat the butter into submission” with a rolling pin. I opted for a more visceral path. I simply strangled it with my bare hands (body heat transmission be damned). Julia and her guest baker specifically advise against this approach, but I was living on the edge now. I’d missed my opportunity to get physical with the dough, so I grasped on to whatever was left. Namely, the gelatinous mass of butter on my cutting board. No worries. Dump that in.  Give it a whirl. Like I said: fearless. 

Yeah, the gorgeous dough fell apart at this point, but eventually I got it to behave. I knew I could do it all along.

The rest of the project proceeded as expected: Add butter. A little more butter. Now add some more. Roll dough into submission. Incarcerate in refrigerator for awhile. Remove from fridge and add more butter. Re-roll. Just for a little more punishment, place dough in solitary confinement in the freezer. Remove from freezer, slice into rounds. Add pecans, butter and some brown sugar. No, more than that. More. A little more. Okay, good.

Ignore for two hours. Bake. Flip onto plate. Torment family with enticing scent of warmed butter, cinnamon and sugar, but refuse to let anyone taste a morsel for at least an hour until buns are cooled and brunch guests arrive. (Looks good. Evil happy dance.)

Lastly, serve results to sublimely clueless but still super-impressed guests.

Another winner. After three days of perfecting my torture techniques, it better be.

Thanks to Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat for hosting this week.  You can find the recipe at her blog as well as at the blog of our other host, Nicole of Cookies on Friday.


  1. love the sticky coating on yours!!! absolutely loved this recipe!!

  2. Yes, this was not an easy "slapper". And I totally used my hands to squish the butter...

    Fun post

  3. Nice butter layers! I enjoy your writing, too!

  4. Great post! I also talk to most of my doughs/foods - you have to let them know who's boss!

  5. Fun post! Your butter layers are impressive, mine didn't turn out nearly as neat. I think I read right past the instructions to listen for the dough to slap - I'll have to pay more attention next time.


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