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Decadent banana sticky buns with caramel pecan sauce

Home & Garden

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Last weekend I had to find something fabulous to make for a friend who gave me an amazing gift – a night and day of babysitting, which enabled me and my husband to get away to the city for a much-needed break.  Although we still had one kid in tow, it did feel pretty awesome! (It’s amazing how little work an 8-week-old is compared to a 2-year-old!) 

I came across this recipe while flipping through my stash of beloved Fine Cooking magazines.  It was one of those recipes that I’d been meaning to make, but never got around to, so this was as good a time as any.  Homemade sticky buns are universally beloved and put any store-bought imitations to shame.  They’ve also got this wow factor that most other baked goods don’t have!

This version with bananas and pecans is somewhat more labour-intensive than a regular recipe, with the added step of making caramel, but the final result is well worth the effort.  Don’t get daunted by the long recipe!  I skipped the overnight rising and they turned out fine.  Baking them in a muffin tins also makes sampling much easier for the chef, which I like!  If you’re planning a brunch with friends, or craving a delicious treat to go along with afternoon coffee, or simply wanting a culinary adventure, these are definitely a fun project that will both satisfy and impress. 

Overnight Banana Sticky Buns with Pecans


3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed

1 ¼-oz package instant yeast

½ cup very warm milk

¾ cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 medium)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted; more for the bowl

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1¼ tsp table salt 


3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1¾ tsp ground cinnamon

Caramel-Pecan Sauce

2 tbsp cold unsalted butter; more softened for the pan

1½ cups granulated sugar

1 large ripe banana, coarsely chopped into ½- to 1-inch pieces

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Generous pinch table salt

1 cup pecan halves

Making the dough:

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast.  Stir in the warm milk until combined.  Cover the bowl and let sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes.  Stir in the banana, melted butter, sugar, egg, and salt into the yeast mixture until well combined.  Stir in all but ¼ cup of the remaining flour to make a stiff, shaggy dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead and sprinkle remaining flour on work surface as necessary.  Continue to knead until dough becomes smooth and easy to handle, 5 to 10 minutes.  Put the dough in a buttered medium bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 40 to 50 minutes.

Fill the rolls:

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle.  Roll out into a 16x11-inch rectangle.  Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough to within 1/8-inch of the edge.  Combine the chopped pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the butter.  Roll up lengthwise, starting from a long edge, and pinch the seam to seal.  Turn the log so it’s seam side down.  Trim off and discard 1/2-inch from each end, then cut the log into twelve 1¼-inch pieces.  Cover with plastic wrap.


Make the caramel-pecan sauce:

Generously butter a 12-cup standard muffin pan.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and ¼ cup warm water and stir until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes.  Bring the syrup to a boil and cook, without stirring, until it begins to caramelize.  Gently swirl the pan to help the syrup brown evenly.  Once the syrup has turned an amber colour, remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the banana and cold butter.  Stir in the heavy cream, returning the pan to low heat if the mixture doesn’t smooth out immediately.  Add the vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.  Strain the sauce, discarding the banana.  Let the caramel cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.  Drizzle about 1½ tbsp of caramel into each muffin cup, reserving the extra sauce at room temperature.  Sprinkle the pecans evenly among the cups.

Place the dough slices over the sauce and nuts, cut sides down.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the sticky buns:

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Position racks in the center and lower third of the oven and heat to 350 F.  Put the muffin pan on the centre rack and set a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflowing syrup.  Bake until the tops and edges of buns are browned, 20 to 22 minutes.

Immediately invert the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet, replace any pecans that fell off, and let cool for 10 minutes.  Reheat the reserved caramel sauce and serve buns drizzled with sauce.  

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Thursday, January 19, 2012