Today is my husband’s birthday. We got married about five months ago and it was literally the most amazing time. I realize that’s what EVERYONE says, but it’s the absolute truth. I got to marry the best human I know with all of my favorite people around while eating delicious food and wearing a gorgeous dress. It was a fantastic day.
But as beautiful as the wedding was, the marriage has proven to be even better. I won’t go on too much, but I count myself very lucky to have such a cool, hot, funny, supportive, and incredibly intelligent partner in life. It’s not often you find someone who compliments your particular brand of weird so thoroughly.
OK, gushing over. But it was a necessary gush, one because who doesn’t want to be embarrassingly praised on a small corner of the internet on their birthday, and two because the idea of marriage is key to today’s recipe in which two very cool, very independent, very successful in their own right baked goods come together to form an even sweeter pair. If you think about it, banana bread and sticky buns were sort of made for each other. The banana makes the dough sweet and tender and the sticky caramel topping lends its own je ne sais quoi to the mix. When you’re done you have something deeply comforting, uniquely interesting, and pretty damn sexy. Sounds like marriage material to me.
Banana Bread Pecan Sticky Buns
Servings: 12 Time: 4 TO 5 HOURS
If you want to have these for breakfast but don’t want to wake up before dawn, you can do the lion’s share of the work the night before. After you cut and arrange the rolls in the baking dish, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Then in the morning take them out 2 hours before you want to bake them. This will give them time to come to room temperature and to get all puffy and beautiful, also this seems like ample time to take a shower, put your face on, sip some coffee, and clean up any disasters your children, or in my case cats have laid out for you in the wee hours of the night. Proceed with the recipe, erring on the side of five minutes longer in the oven to compensate for any leftover chill from the fridge. Then receive many compliments.
For the dough:
2/3 C milk
3 T butter
2 T sugar
2 tsp yeast
3 ½ – 4 C flour
½ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas, mashed
For the topping:
¼ C brown sugar
¼ C white sugar
½ tsp salt
5 T butter
½ C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ C pecan halves
For the filling:
2/3 C brown sugar
3 T melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, sliced thinly
Combine the milk and butter and microwave until butter is mostly melted (this took me about 45 seconds)
Add the sugar to milk and butter mixture and stir to dissolve. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. If it’s hot, let it cool down for a few minutes before proceeding to the next step.
Add yeast to milk mixture and stir to combine. Let stand for five minutes or until foamy.
Stir together 3 ½ cups of flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
Add the yeast mixture, egg yolk, vanilla, and mashed bananas to the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. If the dough is wet enough that it won’t clear the sides of the bowl then add the remaining ½ cup of flour. The dough should be a little sticky to the touch, but should only stick to the very bottom of the mixing bowl. Continue to mix for 6-7 minutes or until the dough is relatively soft and smooth. You can also do all of this by hand, by combining all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl and then turning the dough out to knead on a floured work surface, but kneading time will be more like 12-15 minutes.
Form the dough into a rough ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile prepare the topping by combining the both sugars, salt, butter, and cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the topping is glossy and deep amber in color. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
Pour topping into a 9×13 inch baking dish and tilt the dish to evenly spread the topping to the edges and corners. Sprinkle pecans evenly over the topping. Set aside.
Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured surface and gently roll into an 18×14 inch rectangle.
For the filling, pour the melted butter all over the surface of the dough and spread into an even layer with your fingers, remembering to go all the way to the edge.
Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Then sprinkle the mixture over the melted butter and spread and pat into an even layer with your hands.
Place banana slices in one layer on top of brown sugar mixture.
Slowly roll the dough into a snug log (ha), starting with long side closest to you.
When you get to the end, pull the remaining dough up and pinch it closed with the top of the roll to create a seam.
Trim the ends of the roll and gently cut into 12 equal portions. I find a sharp serrated knife is good for this. Saw back and forth, and let the knife do the work, rather than pushing down onto the rolls which will squish the lovely spiral you just worked so hard to make.
Place the rolls, cut side up on the pecan topping. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes to an hour, or until puffed and crowding the pan. This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 350° F.
Remove plastic wrap and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the internal temperature of the rolls hits at least 190° F.
Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, or until pan is cool enough to handle.
Place a wire cooling rack upside down on top of the rolls. Carefully pick up the pan and cooling rack together and invert the whole situation. Lift the pan up and the rolls should plop out in one big piece, nuts and all, onto the cooling rack. If you don’t have a cooling rack you can also invert them onto a cutting board or a serving platter, just be very careful because these buns are HEAVY.