So I know this isn't going to "fall in order" of when it was supposed to be baked but my sister Sarah requested this specially to be done while we were all home for Christmas at my parents house. She and I talked about doing this for a couple weeks going into break and insisted she would wake up with me at 5am to make these for the family to have for breakfast! So when she rolled out of bed at 9:30am when they were about to go in the oven I wasn't quite shocked....but I digress! :)
This was one of the recipes I marked when I initially went through it as being something I was incredibly excited to make so when Sarah suggested I make it for Christmas Eve, I was more than happy to oblige and skip ahead to make them for my family.
The start of this recipe began with making a batch of brioche dough. I had never made brioche specifically but I had made donuts that used a very similar dough method so I was somewhat familiar with it. This dough is famous for being incredibly smooth and easy to work with so I was excited. It began as any bread dough recipe does which is blooming yeast before adding it to the dry ingredients. The surprising line to read in the book was that it was meant to mix for 30 minutes, while adding small cubes of softened butter one at a time until you couldn't see the next one throughout the whole time frame. I was worried I was going to wake up my family since I was doing this at 5:15am but luckily no one heard it (including Sarah who slept like a log). At any event I was happy to see the dough take shape and that it was similar to the donut dough that I made previously from a different recipe book (not bouchon since I'll be making donuts for this project at some point).
After this part of the dough came together, I took it out of the bowl and kneaded it for 2 minutes until it was entirely smooth and I left it in a bowl to undergo bulk fermentation. Throughout this time it grew in size as well as retaining its smoothness (I included the before and after shots to show the growth because it didn't look like a lot but it definitely worked well).
While the bulk fermentation took place I went to work making a crème pâtissière (vanilla pastry cream). It started with egg yolks and sugar and you basically cook it down whisking before adding milk that has reached simmer (not boiling....that's a big no no). Once you add a small volume of the milk to the eggs whisking the whole time to temper them (you don't want to end up with sweet scrambled eggs) you add the rest of the milk in before finally adding it back to the pan on the heat. You keep whisking until it finally turns and thickens into the consistency we are all used to. There was just enough that I made to have a little snack throughout the bake since this took roughly 4 hours start to finish.
The last thing I had to do while the dough was fermenting was to make the "schmear" that would go on the dough. This was quick enough to just mix together the butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla into a wet sand consistency to then spread on the dough once it was rolled out. Once the dough was rolled out to a 10" x 16" rectangle, I spread an even layer of the crème pâtissière over the dough before trying to get an even spread of the schmear on top. The final touch was to add some roughly chopped pecans over the dough (they said to use whole ones but my Mom and I agreed it would be better with chopped pecans).
Then came the fun part of rolling the dough up into a log and then trimming the edges before cutting 6 equal portions to put in the jumbo muffin pan that had schmear that had been melted in the bottom. The sticky buns were then left in the pan and allowed to do a final prove for 45 minutes before they were set to be baked (finally!).
Finally....FINALLY these were ready to hit the oven. Now before I tell you how delicious they were, I have to warn people to put a rimmed baking sheet under these as they bake as the melted schmear in the bottom will bubble up and fall over the sides and cause your oven to smoke up and it will be quite dramatic and you don't need that on a morning where you've already spent 4 hours making sticky buns.
The bake itself did take roughly 10-15 minutes longer than the book instructed and that was simply to bake them enough to get the insides cooked and not raw. They are so big and so thick, the inside needs that extra time in order to bake all the way throughout. After spending hours and hours on this, trust me you can wait the extra 10-15 minutes to make sure it's done The one issue that you can see in the image below is that the very tops got a little burnt but trust me you couldn't taste it and you'd much rather the inside be baked through. The unveiling of the sticky buns when flipping them upside down was just as dramatic and wonderful as I'd hoped. There was a cascade of melted schmear running down the side that I spooned back over the buns as they started to begin to cool. One of these bad boys was definitely enough for a full breakfast and so I was glad to have my family there to help me eat them (even if Sarah didn't help me in the kitchen! ;) ).