In my career as a Human Being, I have had some interesting ideas: flour, water, sugar and pink food coloring to make a beverage for a tea party? Awesome! I've had some Terrible ideas: Gee, Greg (my younger brother), sorry I hit you very hard on your arm. Here, we'll put some baby powder on it so it will feel all better. Then you won't have to tell Mom and Dad when they get home.
I've had ideas that are good in theory but always need more tweaking to elevate them to Amazing than I am willing to give: coconut cupcakes with cucumber lime buttercream sound wonderful, but I just am not inspired to continue tinkering. And then, very occasionally, I have an idea that is just about perfect. The stars align, and what I dream up not only is interesting, but good, not only in theory but in practice as well.
Happily, my most recent set of ideas falls into the Latter Category. First, I was inspired by all the pumpkin pie lattes to make espresso pumpkin butter, and it is Wonderful. Then, I decided it would be a great idea to make sticky buns and sweet rolls using the butter as a filling. Honestly, friends, these turned out so well that they Just Might Be the best things I have ever made. For real.
What's great about this recipe (you know I hate that word) is that you can make half of the dough into sweet rolls and the other half into sticky buns. Or you can make all of one or the other. Or, you can make 1/3 into rolls and the other 2/3 into buns. Or...well, you get the idea.
The sweet roll dough is the same one that I generally use, but this particular batch turned out to be the best one yet. I attribute its success to the addition of Very Old Buttermilk. I smelled it first, to make sure that we wouldn't Die if we ingested it, and it still smelled fine, but it was...elderly.
If that makes you feel squidgy, by all means use new buttermilk. I found, though, that a)it was a great way to use up some sad buttermilk that had been sitting in the fridge for...a long time...crossing its fingers every time I opened the door and then slumping back despondently in the dark after I'd shut the door again, and b)buttermilk can sit around for a long time and still work well--even better than fresh--in baked goods. So for all of you folks who bought buttermilk for a recipe and now can't figure out what to do with the 7/8-full container in your fridge, know that it can just hang out in there for...a long time...and that you can use it to make bread.
If you've never made sweet rolls/sticky buns/cinnamon rolls before, check out my Helpful Video Tutorial. It shows how to make this Actual Dough plus the technique for rolling out, filling and rolling up sweet rolls.
And now, without further Ado, I give you Espresso Pumpkin Butter Sweet Rolls and Sticky Buns!
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 2 teaspoons dried yeast (see note)
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 oz. sugar
- 3 oz. melted butter
- 6-8 oz. (or more, if necessary) buttermilk (old is fine. Very old is better)
- 20 oz. AP flour
- Follow the link to Espresso Pumpkin Butter above
- about ¼ cup sugar, divided
- 2 oz butter, softened (1/2 stick)
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I used King Arthur)
- a few dribbles of dark corn syrup
- about ½-2/3 cup lovely pecan halves
- 3 oz. softened butter
- 3 oz. softened cream cheese
- 8 oz. powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- wee splash of vanilla
- half and half, enough to make an icing consistency (or glaze consistency--it's up to you)
- Put all of the dough ingredients (use 6 oz buttermilk) in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, adding extra buttermilk to achieve a fairly soft dough that sticks in the bottom of the mixer bowl but clears the sides of the bowl when kneading.
- Once the dough comes together, knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth, supple, only barely sticky and very extensible or stretchy, about ten minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place, smooth side up, in a large greased bowl (I just use the mixing bowl since it's already dirty). Spray the dough with nonstick spray or brush it with a little butter or oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled or even tripled in size. (I let mine rise in the oven with the oven light on).
- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto the counter and press out all the gases.
- Cut the ball in half (if making two types of rolls), and cover one half with a lint-free towel.
- Roll the other half of the dough into a rectangle about 12" wide and 10" high. Try to keep the edges as even as possible.
- Spread a fairly thick layer of pumpkin butter onto the rectangle, making sure to leave about 1½" of clear dough at one long edge of the rectangle. (at least ⅛" thick. You don't really want to see dough peeking through)
- Sprinkle the topping with a light dusting of sugar, about 2 tablespoons (I just did this by hand and didn't really measure).
- Roll up the rectangle of dough, starting at the far end and rolling towards yourself. The pumpkin butter is pretty soft, so don't manhandle it. Pinch the edge of the dough where it meets the rest of the cylinder to seal the seam.
- Cut off irregular ends (I like dental floss for this) and then slice the rolls however thick you'd like. Again, the filling is soft so this can be a little messy. Don't worry; persevere.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.
- Mash all of the sticky bun topping ingredients together, except for the pecans.
- Line 2 9" round cake pans with parchment circles. Spread the sticky bun topping evenly in one pan. Top with the pecans, pretty sides down (The pretty sides will be up when you turn them out onto a plate).
- Place your cut rolls in the prepared pans. I put one in the center and then six around the outsides. Try to leave about ½" of space between all the rolls to leave room for rising.
- Cover and let rise until poofy and almost doubled, about an hour in a warm place.
- Bake at 350F until the internal temperature of the center bun is around 200F (from 195F-205F is fine). This will take about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. If the tops of the buns start getting too dark, loosely tent them with foil.
- If you don't have a thermometer, you can judge doneness fairly well by color and touch, but you won't be able to do the old "thump on the bottom" trick, especially with the sticky buns.
- When the buns are done, let cool for about ten minutes.
- Mix up the cream cheese icing or glaze and apply as liberally or as lightly as you'd like. (If you have extra, it'll keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks with no problem. Or, just make less).
- Ice/drizzle glaze on the sweet rolls.
- Put a large plate over the pan of sticky buns. Wearing oven mitts or using towels, carefully flip over the pan of buns, shaking if necessary, so they slip out onto the plate. Scrape any topping left in the pan onto the buns, letting some drip Attractively down the sides.
- Cool to at least warm before diving in.
I ended up with seven of each type of bun, plus four end pieces that I cut off of the rolls which I turned into sweet rolls. You, of course, may slice the tubes of dough differently to get more or fewer buns.
I hope you try them, because I know that you will love them! Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.