Birch Sticky Buns

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My fascination with birch syrup continues…

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Today I thought I’d make sticky buns with birch syrup used in making some of the sticky part. Because why not, right?

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I decided to check a few sites online, and Ultimate Sticky Buns from the Bon Appetit and Epicurious websites seemed to fit the bill in terms of “easy to follow” and “tried and true” recipes. This recipe rated very highly with 97% of 66 reviewers saying that they’d make it again. So I decided to not waste any time, and made the dough last night so that this morning it would be a cinch.

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The verdict? I decided that there are some things I prefer as a classic recipe, and the birch syrup, while I enjoy the flavor of it, I thought it had a slightly citrus-y note to it (some might read that as “sour”) that was not the expected taste for classic sticky buns. But still very good with the pecans and the soft dough. That being said, you’ll want to tell people there is birch syrup, otherwise they might be turned off by the taste, which is very unique and different than maple syrup, or the traditional sweetness found in sticky buns.

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Birch Sticky Buns with Pecans (from Epicurious, which is from Bon Appetit) ingredients

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)

1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

2/3 cup sugar

1 stick, 1/2 cup, or 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 + 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

4 + 1/4 cups all purpose flour

glaze

1 + 1/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons corn syrup

1/4 cup birch syrup + 2 Tablespoons birch syrup

4 teaspoons cinnamon and 4 teaspoons sugar

2 cups chopped pecans

method

For dough:

Mix 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Add the yeast and let bloom. It should take about 8-10 minutes to get frothy. If it doesn’t, toss it, and try again. Sometimes yeast can get stale. Sometimes you might use water that is too hot. The water should be like a comfortable water bath temperature. Lukewarm.

Beat the remaining sugar with the butter, milk powder, and salt in a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer, until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in remaining 3/4 cup water and yeast mixture, then add the flour, one cup at a time.

After 3 cups, add the last cup, but using a rubber spatula, mix it in.

Sprinkle the 1/4 cup on a work surface, and place the dough on it, kneading for about 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, but still sticky or tacky.

Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about two and a half hours, until doubled.

Punch down and cover again with plastic wrap in the bowl, and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, make the glaze and form the rolls.

For the glaze, simply blend all the ingredients together in a bowl, except reserve 1/4 cup of the butter, and the cinnamon and sugar.

Divide equally into the two prepared 10-inch round pans, if using. (I used one 14-inch round pan, which is roughly double in volume to a 10-inch pan. I also reserved the toasted pecans as a topping at the very end, because nothing is worse than when you bake nuts in some sort of liquid, and then turn soggy or chewy. Nothing!)

For making the rolls, punch down the dough and divide into two even pieces, forming each piece into a 12-inch by 9-inch rectangle. An easy way to guesstimate if you don’t have a measuring tool, is to place a standard size piece of paper on the counter, which is 11 and a half by 8 and a half, so the rectangle you want to make is going to be slightly larger than that.

Brush off any excess flour, and spread the remaining 1/4 cup of the butter on each of the rectangles.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over each rectangle. Roll each rectangle from the end closest to you and cut each into 12 pieces.

With cut side down, place into prepared pans. Cover with plastic and let double in size, which could take about 1 and a half hours. I boiled water on the stove top, placed a towel on the unused burner and left the prepared pan on top of it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown on each roll, including the ones in the middle. These would be the bottoms, but you want to make sure that the center of each pan is not raw. You also do not want to over bake, which is why I decided to bake mine at 350, not 375 degrees, as called for in the original recipe. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a platter or serving dish. Place chopped pecans on top and serve. I made extra 1/2 recipe of the glaze on a stove top and topped the buns with it before adding the pecans. If desired, drizzle some birch syrup on each bun at service. Enjoy!

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11 thoughts on “Birch Sticky Buns

  1. This looks delicious!
    I was very intrigued by the birch syrup, after your last post, and tried to get it online. I’ve found a few, from Canada and Alaska, that vary from dark to amber and I’m not sure which one is better. I’m wondering if you have any recommendations?

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    • So far, I’ve only had the dark ones. I’ve tried a few companies over the last year, but it has always been dark. Think it’s probably the more flavorful, but after this last recipe, I’m wondering now if a lighter kind might be more appropriate for dessert? The dark is pretty bold and robust, which I like, but now you’ve got me thinking about buying lighter varieties? Either is quite spendy, but I think I’ve read somewhere that this would be the best time to buy it because this is the season they harvest the sap. I’m a novice and haven’t had lighter types, so I can’t recommend which type to get. But good luck with that.

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  2. Well those buns look fantastic. Although I haven’t tasted them I imagine them to be really delicious but think I would agree about sticking with the traditional flavor. It really is great to experiment love doing that. The buns look just perfect.

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  3. Suzanne,
    It’s odd, but I’ve been on the fence about it all day. I’ve given most of them away, but have eaten about four of them. I think the reasons I thought I’d like it (not too sweet, birch having a distinct flavor) are the same reasons why I don’t like it as much. Does that even make sense? I think it’s like when you expect something to taste a certain way because of how it looks, and when it doesn’t taste as you expect, it’s sort of a let down. I’m not completely disappointed by it though. But by far the best thing I’ve had with birch syrup so far is simply just drizzling it over a good vanilla bean ice cream.

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    • I could drink it straight from the bottle. Ha! Not really, but I do like the stuff. And yes, we are settled in. The commute is long, but getting used to it. Just have to think of it as my time to chill out on the bus! Have a great rest of the weekend.

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