Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: Sticky Buns

Another Update Review, March 2018

Waffling leftover sticky buns is no longer novel, I know.  I do it all the time, as you have read about before, with several different types of buns, like maple pecan sticky buns or my mom's "famous" pecan sticky buns.  This is yet another story about my mom's version, as she makes them, at least once, every time I visit.

Because she is the best mommy ever.  And these are the best sticky buns ever.
Pecan Cinnamon Sticky Bun Transformation.
Today's lesson? Yes, the waffle iron is a great way to revive day (or two) old sticky buns, but you need to be careful not the burnt the caramel.
The Original: Pecan Cinnamon Sticky Buns (Bottom View).
The originals were the same recipe my mom always uses, from King Arthur Flour, that we have tweaked over the years.  Doughy, moist, and we always slightly under-bake, because that is how I like them.
The Original: Pecan Cinnamon Sticky Buns (Top View).
They are crowned with a glorious layer of sticky maple syrup based caramel and pecans.

This photo was taken a moment after I tipped them over onto the platter, so the hot caramel hadn't quite solidified, but it turns a perfect softball caramel when done right.

The sticky buns were glorious.  I told my mom that these were the best batch yet.  They were so moist, so doughy, so gooey, just, absolutely perfect, hot and fresh out of the oven.
Leftover Pecan Cinnamon Sticky Buns. 
Glorious as they were, we had leftovers.

This was the second batch she made, just two days after the first batch.  The batch had 14 sticky buns.  My dad doesn't like them (he doesn't like the topping) and my mom only likes a little piece of one for dessert, and doesn't actually eat them for breakfast herself.  And that's everyone in the house these days.  Let's just say ... I had a lot of sticky buns.

And I love them, but, in my world, the shelf life of a sticky bun is ~5 minutes.  Ok, maybe a few hours, but, even by dinner time, they have lost some glory (I still warm up another and top it with ice cream, and love it, of course).  By the next morning, a warmed one is ok, but not great.  By that evening though?  No way.

They don't look that bad, but, the buns themselves dry out, the topping gets strangely moist.
Grilling ...
We had a big family dinner with a few extra relatives that night, and my mom, completely out of character, didn't prepare a dessert.  (Ok, to be fair, she made sticky buns that morning, a huge dinner and fruit crisp for the same group the night before and cinnamon rolls that morning, sticky buns the morning before that and strawberry shortcake that night ...).

I said I'd handle dessert.  I wanted to introduce more relatives to waffling!

So I loaded up the waffle iron with sticky buns, one in each compartment.  I usually just do one at a time, as I'm usually just waffling for myself.  It was fun to have a group to waffle for!

However, I made an error.  In my excitement to share my waffled sticky buns with everyone, I forgot to check the temperature of the waffle iron.  I leave mine set at 350°, but hers ... hers was set to the highest temperature.  And I didn't notice.

And then I made another error.  I went to socialize and set up the toppings bar (I was going to have everyone top them to order with ice cream, whipped cream, and more), instead of carefully watching them as they cooked, and discovering the error sooner.
Burnt Waffled Sticky Bun.
The result?

Uh, more crispy than I intended.  The caramel went too far, got too hard, and even tasted a bit burnt.

This was not my finest showing.  I covered it up somewhat with generous amounts of ice cream, but, oops.  One person liked it with maple syrup instead.

I did not sell them on the waffling concept, due to my own errors.
Waffled Sticky Bun Perfection!
The next day, I wanted to redeem myself, and we still had leftover sticky buns.

This time, I put the waffle iron on the correct temperature (I actually did 325° because I was paranoid), paid attention, and pulled one out perfectly done.  Just a bit crispy on the outside, still soft inside, caramel just caramelized, not burnt.

Redemption.  Of course these waffle, you just need to pay attention ...

Update Review, June 2017

By now, I know that waffling is a great way to "save" day (or more) old sticky buns, donuts, cinnamon sugar knots, or any other glazed sticky bread products. All staleness vanishes, and sticky glaze turns into excellent caramelization.
Sticky Bun Transformation.
So when I had another giant batch of sticky buns that really degraded quickly past their first day, I knew exactly what to do.
The Originals: Maple Pecan Sticky Buns.
The originals were fairly classic sticky buns, rolled with cinnamon sugar between the layers, a basic dough as the base, and sticky bottom side.

I had them at my office, and we had platters and platters of them. Suffice to say, there were tons leftover, and I grabbed some, thinking they'd hold up ok for another day, and I pondered making bread pudding from more.
The Original: Maple Pecan Sticky Buns (bottom).
Of course, sticky buns are all about their sticky side. The undersides of the buns were coated in a sweet, maple syrup based sticky sauce, with plenty of halves of pecans.
Day Old Leftover Sticky Bun.
After a day, they were dry and stale. These has zero shelf life. Even warmed up, they weren't good.

So I sliced one in half, and threw it, sticky side in, to my waffle iron at 350°.
Waffled Sticky Bun.
After about 5 minutes, the waffle transformation was complete.

The outside was crispy, the inside stayed moist, and the maple syrup coating turned into liquid that infused the whole thing, and then formed a slightly caramelized layer.

It extracted fairly easily from the iron, except that ... it split apart where the rolls were. I didn't really care though, and topped it with plenty of whipped cream. And dug in. I realized about halfway through that I forgot to take a photo of the completed "dish", but, I think you get the point.

These items are always a success, as long as you don't overcook. Highly recommended as a way to salvage 1-3 day old glazed bread products!

Original Review, September 2016

A few years ago, for Christmas brunch, my mom made incredible sticky buns, following a recipe from King Arthur Flour.  Since then, I request them literally every time I visit.  It is a given that I want them for Christmas brunch annually, but I'll also ask for them for a random breakfast when I visit in the summer, or for dessert even (because really, they *are* dessert!).  We've tweaked the recipe a few times over the years, trying different cinnamon fillings and ratios, and adjusting the cooking time slightly (I like them a bit under-baked, more soft and doughy inside, and the topping more gooey and sticky).  At this point, my mom has these sticky buns nailed, and they are a highlight of my visits.
Sticky Buns: Normal Version.
Anyway, I adore these sticky buns and they come out excellent nearly every time (there was one time when we baked them too long, and the topping turned into caramel brittle and the buns were kinda dried out ...).  Pictured above is how they normally look, with an amazing cinnamon sugar topping and tons of pecans bathed in the sticky topping.

A batch is fairly sizable, and not everyone in my family is as crazy about them as I am.  Which means, I generally end up responsible for eating ... 80% of the buns?  And, their shelf life isn't exactly long.

They are incredible hot and fresh out of the oven for a decadent breakfast.  They are pretty good later that day for a dessert, topped with whipped cream or ice cream.  They are acceptable the next morning, warmed, for breakfast again.  After the second afternoon though, I generally start to turn my nose up at them, and move on to whatever new baked good my mom's oven has produced (because, well, she knows I have a sweet tooth, and she keeps me very well fed!)
Sticky Buns: Not-risen.
So that is how things normally go.  Incredible sticky buns that I enjoy for about two days, and then move on.  But on my recent visit, things didn't quite go as expected.

My mom made up the dough in advance, knowing that is the time consuming part.  She stashed the dough in the freezer to pull out and easily make my sticky buns when I arrived.  On my first day there, she pulled it out and defrosted in the fridge.  She intended to surprise me the next morning with hot fresh sticky buns.  But ... she forgot.  And we had breakfast plans the day after that with my grandfather at 4 Aces Diner.  So, two days passed, and then she remembered the dough.  She pulled it out to make the buns on the third morning.  But ... they just didn't rise.  Was it from freezing?  Was it from being in the fridge for a few days?  We weren't sure.  But I still wanted my sticky buns, so, eventually, she put them in the oven, warning me that she could tell things weren't quite right.
Sad Sticky Bun: Not Risen, Way Too Much Topping.
And ... yeah, things weren't quite right.  The buns didn't rise, didn't get as fluffy and doughy as usual.  Instead they stayed fairly deflated.  The topping amount was too much, given the significantly reduced dough surface area.  So, what we had was kinda undercooked balls of dough, with way too much filling inside the folds and on top.  They looked horrible.

They tasted decent enough, but were crazy sweet, and totally not right for breakfast.  Warmed up later in the day with a huge scoop of ice cream to cut the sweetness, they made for a fantastic dessert (in my mind), but, no one else wanted to touch them.  They were going to throw them out.

I had another one after lunch the second day, warm with ice cream.  It was still pretty good.  I had one after dinner the second day, warm with ice cream.  Still a winner.  But, no one else wanted any.  I had an entire batch of sticky buns to eat myself (save for one that the others split the first day).

By day three, I decided to get creative.  Even a perfect version of the buns never holds up to day three.

I imagine you might know where this is headed.  What else would I do with a sad leftover that I desperately wanted to save?  Of course I waffled it, following my tradition of waffling all the things

So, Leftover Messed-Up-Sticky-Buns: Will It Waffle?  Yes!
Mid-Way Through Cooking.
I knew this idea had potential.  The cinnamon sugar coating would likely get crispy and actually caramelized when it came in contact with the hot irons.  The entire thing would hopefully cook a bit more and improve upon its under-baked state.

I threw the sticky bun in, unmodified, into a 350 degree waffle iron. (Of course, my mom has the same waffle iron I do, with adjustable temperatures, so, no modifications were needed to my technique).
Waffled Sticky Bun!
The result was certainly better than the original, but, I did accidentally leave it in a bit too long, as I was busy socializing with my family.  Rookie mistake!

The outside sugar and cinnamon did indeed turn more caramelized, into a crispy layer encasing the side of the bun.  It went a touch too dark though, so had a hint of burnt flavor to it.  The pecans on the outside sadly did burn, so I ended up scraping those off.

I think the dough did cook a bit more, but, really, it just mattered less because the whole thing was mushed down to be waffled, so the lack of rise wasn't as strange in this form.

I served the sticky bun with both whipped cream and ice cream, and preferred the whipped cream since I could dunk the crispy roll into it easier.

Overall, this was a success, and a great idea for what to do with future extra sticky buns, even ones that DO rise properly, after day two.
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